At Prendergast Primary School, our intention is for English learning to reflect the diversity and creativity of our community, enabling pupils to develop effective Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing skills through engagement with a range of texts and literary experiences. English skills are integral not only to success within the English curriculum but to all areas of learning and we therefore ensure that pupils are fully supported to leave Prendergast as confident written and oral communicators, able to access a range of content.
Creativity is central to English teach and learning, as it is to the rest of our curriculum, and we aim to develop creative skills to ensure pupils are well equipped for 21st century life and that they develop the desire and motivation to communicate and express themselves in a range of exciting ways. We implement our English aims through a ‘core text’ approach, supported by planning sequences from the Literary Curriculum. The range of books that children encounter represent authors, stories and ideas from a diverse range of cultures and across many genres. Pupils broaden their tastes and develop their skills by getting to know poetry, fact books, biographies, narratives, TV adverts, play scripts and more.
Each half term, pupils become immersed in two inspiring core texts, which inspire a broad range of speaking, reading, and writing outcomes. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are taught in the context of the core text, enabling pupils plenty of opportunity to practise and apply what they learn in meaningful ways. The impact of this embedded approach, as well as working from an inspiring text as a writing impetus, is that pupils demonstrate and develop their creativity to narrate stories and recount facts and events. All National Curriculum requirements are embedded, making the grammar purposeful and there is always a mixture of shorter and extended writing outcomes where the audience and purpose is clear and exciting for children.
Pupils hone their speaking and listening, reading and writing skills in a sequential and purposeful manner, throughout their primary years, from exploring the structure, settings, and characters of books in Reception, to refining the purpose, audience and coherence of English language and literature in Key Stage Two.
Speaking and listening
Speaking and Listening skills are integral precursors to Reading and Writing and are fundamental to our English curriculum across the school. In Reception, Communication and Language is an essential area of development and is central to the provision set up in the classroom. Pupils are encouraged to communicate by sharing ideas, making comments, and asking questions about their everyday experiences. Pupils are supported by adults to expand their vocabulary, speak for a range of purposes and listening attentively to their peers and a range of texts. As pupils move through Key Stage 1 and 2, Speaking and Listening remains an important part of the curriculum that supports progress in both Reading and Writing. From building vocabulary, to role-play and story-telling, orally engaging with English supports pupils to understand texts in more depth and communicate their own thoughts and ideas fully.
In addition to Speaking and Listening regularly in English and whole class reading lessons, pupils practice these skills through home learning projects, whole school ‘No Pens Day’ events, the School Council and assemblies.
At Prendergast Primary, we strongly believe that the development of Reading skills goes hand in hand with a love of reading. We actively promote reading as a thoroughly enjoyable activity from which much can be gained, and we ensure that even as word reading skills are being established, pupils love to pick up and look through books. We continue to encourage a love of reading throughout the primary school experience and support pupils, and their carers, to continue to engage in a range of texts both at school and at home.
Word reading is taught initially through Phonics then through the exploration of spelling rules and etymology. Pupils take home reading books on a regular basis, which match their phonics and/or reading development. (See Phonics page for further details). Pupils also visit the school library regularly, taking books home that suit their personal interests that they can enjoy with an adult at home or independently.
Reading comprehension and fluency is developed through daily Whole Class Reading sessions, underpinned by the Literary Leaves reading resources. In addition to their two core books each half term, pupils focus on one class reading book, which all children get to know through individual, shared and choral reading, alongside a range of interactive activities. Activities cover a range of reading content and children become confident in identifying, applying and combining reading skills, such as: inference, prediction, summarising, retrieval, defining, relating and exploring.
In all year groups, we teach Writing through our core texts, ensuring that pupils have outstanding examples of how to creatively utilise their writing toolkit. The texts pupils engage with include a diversity of authors, genres, characters, events, and settings, which
we hope they can connect with on varying levels. These core texts also encourage pupils to explore their own author voice, utilising a range of grammatical and linguistic devices imaginatively and with purpose. Handwriting is taught through Letterjoin which supports accurate letter formation and cursive handwriting. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, handwriting development focuses on correct letter formation and the use of finger spaces. Cursive handwriting, and the consistent use of it, is the focus for Key Stage 2.
Phonics knowledge is integral to the development of writing, particularly in Early Years and Key Stage 1, as pupils utilise their knowledge of phonics to spell words. Spelling Seeds, from the Literary Curriculum, is utilised within English lessons in Key Stage 2 to expand pupils’ vocabulary and ensure it is being spelled correctly.