The Village Academy

The Village Academy is a group of town, city and village schools that have joined together to provide the very best education for the children in our care and where we believe that education is very much a matter of the individual.

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English

Overview - Intent

Through our English Curriculum we aim to promote high standards of communication and literacy, developing the essential and life-long skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Through providing a secure knowledge base in literacy which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum, we aim to equip our children with the tools they need to participate not only in the wider curriculum but also as members of society. We aim to make the learning journey an exciting, enriching and holistic one whereby we weave our English learning with our wider learning journey; discussing, reading and writing about topics that are relevant, challenging and engaging.

Speaking and Listening - Intent

We believe that the skills of speaking and listening are essential in developing effective, curious and resilient learners. Therefore, speaking and listening are core to our curriculum and underpin not only the development of reading and writing but also the wider learning journey for all learners. 

Speaking and Listening - Implementation

In line with the English National Curriculum (2014), we teach the Statutory requirements set out in the English Programme of Study which underpin all aspects of spoken language. These are reflected and contextualised within the reading and writing domains. We seek to create opportunities where new vocabulary can be acquired and rehearsed orally in relevant contexts. Further, we create opportunities where we model and encourage all learners to engage in discussion and debate in a meaningful and respectful way, thus developing life-long skills. Through promoting the use of drama in our classrooms, we give children the opportunities to take on and adapt to a variety of roles, thus developing new vocabulary as well as deepening understanding of a character or a situation.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play/improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication

Reading Intent

At Selling School we place a priority on reading not just because it is an essential, life-long skill but because it is the gateway to wider learning. In our aim to foster a life-long love of books and reading for our learners, we immerse our pupils in high quality texts that we hope will excite them, challenge them, develop their imagination and open them up to worlds of possibilities.

Reading Implementation

We have a whole-school, quality text based approach to English lessons which also feeds into our reading lessons. We have planned a progressive and engaging English curriculum based around high-quality, challenging texts for each year group. The children are immersed into the same text via English lessons and the daily reading lesson. These sessions are led by the class teacher and allow the children to develop their reading and comprehension skills through following a clear progression from year to year. We use reading VIPERS as our way of supporting children with their reading comprehension skills. All children work on VIPERS during class reading, whether it is reading as a class, in a small group, or one-to-one with an adult. Class teachers plan reading lessons that explicitly teach, model and then practice each of the VIPERS skills. Please see below for tips on how to support your child using VIPERS at home.

 

In addition to the daily reading lesson, children are given opportunities throughout the week to read their reading book. This may be reading to an adult or it may be independent reading. In EYFS and KS1 we aim to hear all children read 1:1 at least once per week. This may be with the class teacher, TA or a reading volunteer. This continues into KS2 for those children who we identify as needing additional support with comprehension, fluency or just some additional time spent reading with an adult.

All children have a reading book that they take home daily. In Early Years and KS1, Reading books are organized on a colour book banding system ensuring the children read books appropriate to their developing phonics level (the children’s reading should be 99% accurate in these books).  These books will be provided and sent home on a daily basis for parents to read with their children.  We use books from a range of schemes including:  Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat, Lighthouse readers and others.

Each parent is given the opportunity to liaise with teachers through reading record books which record when the children have been listened to in school by a member of staff or a volunteer, and at home, and any issues or positives there may be. 

Children who have moved on from the reading scheme will choose books from their class reading area or from the school library. When they begin choosing books in this way, children are supported by the class teacher or TA in how to select appropriate books that are at the right level (comprehension and interest). Book choice and reading frequency is monitored via the reading record and through opportunities that arise during reading times throughout the week.

In addition to their reading book, all children are also given the opportunity to borrow books from our school library. Children can access the library at various points in the week where they can change and borrow books. We have a team of upper KS2 librarians who are trained to support younger children with choosing books. We run various whole school competitions, sponsored reads and book fairs throughout the school year where we are able to not only promote our love of reading, but also raise funds that allow us to purchase new titles to add to our book collections in the library and classrooms.

Phonics is taught daily in Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One following the framework ‘Letters and Sounds’. This will involve a 20 minute daily session of planned systematic phonics’ delivery, with a wide opportunity for application of skills through the environment and other lessons. The Letters and Sounds programme is separated into six Phases - your child's teacher will be able to tell you which Phase your child is currently working on. Throughout the school year we run phonics workshops for parents where we invite you into school to observe and take part in a phonics lesson with your child, or to a more traditional meeting, led by the class teacher or phonics lead, where we provide you with guidance on how you can support your child with their phonics learning. Additionally, should you ever have a question about your child’s phonics learning, do not hesitate to speak to their class teacher in the first instance. Please also see below for some helpful phonics information and resources.

When reading aloud to the class, whether that be the class text or a book borrowed from the class book corner, adults share these stories with the class displaying an enthusiasm for reading and setting a positive example as a reader. 

Writing Intent

At Selling, writing is a crucial part of our curriculum. All children from Foundation Stage to Year 6 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum. For example, these opportunities may arise from the focus text of the term, from the topic that they are studying or from an experience that they children have encountered.

Our aim is for pupils to be able to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. To be able to do this effectively, pupils will focus on developing effective transcription and effective composition. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Further, we want children to make well-informed and considered word choices to produce confident creative writers, who can compose, edit and improve their writing.

We also intend for pupils to leave school being able to use fluent, legible and speedy handwriting. 

Writing Implementation

We teach English lessons every day for all pupils. The curriculum is designed to ensure coverage and develop skills progressively. Writing is evident in every aspect of our curriculum and varying text types are taught throughout the school for a variety of audiences. The objectives of The National Curriculum are followed to ensure that the skills learnt in spelling, punctuation and grammar are embedded and transferred into writing. Lessons are planned so that skills are taught, developed and revisited in a sequential way which promotes learning and retention of knowledge and skills.

Strategies are used throughout the school which encourage oral composition and rehearsal as part of the writing process. Pupils are given a language rich curriculum and environment and are shown how to effectively select and use well chosen, interesting and adventurous language in their writing. 

In addition to the daily English lesson, pupils also have a spelling lesson at least 3 times per week from year 3 and daily in year 2. Following a well-structured and sequenced programme, pupils are taught: spelling rules and patterns, how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. We also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning. Furthermore, children are taught strategies for how to practice and learn spellings.

In line with the Primary Curriculum statutory expectations, children must be taught to write with ease, speed and legibility. It is important that the child’s handwriting becomes a skill that ultimately requires little effort and thought so that creative and physical energy can be focused on the content of writing rather than upon the act. At Selling, all children take part in handwriting lessons. In EYFS, KS1 and lower KS2 when children are learning letter formation and then letter joins, they will practice their handwriting daily. In upper KS2 teachers will meet the needs of their class and practice handwriting as much as is required.

In EYFS, children begin their handwriting journey by practising handwriting patterns. We use a sensory approach with children making set patterns in sand, flour or using chalk for example. We begin using gross-motor skills, gradually moving to smaller movements as the children are ready. Following on from this, the children are taught to form the print version of all letters. We teach groups of letters in “handwriting families” which is when letters are grouped together according to the natural flow that is needed to form the letter. In Year 1, children will continue to practice the correct letter formation in print style ensuring that they start and finish letters in the right place. They will also practice forming capital letters. In year 2 (or earlier if necessary), when the children are ready, they can begin to move to the un-joined cursive version of all letters which is using some diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters. As soon as the children can form letters correctly with appropriate diagonal and horizontal strokes, they are taught to write with a joined cursive style which is then practiced and refined throughout KS2. Through regular practice, we aim for legibility, consistency and quality in the handwriting of all children. Children will receive a special ‘pen licence’ at the point at which they are successfully, accurately and consistently joining all letters. This can be revoked at any point if the standard of handwriting deteriorates. 

Helpful Documents and links:

Glossary of terms used in English lessons

Reading at home

Tips for supporting reading at home

Using VIPERS when reading at home

Useful websites:

Oxford Reading Owl  

Literacy Trust 

Book Trust 

Phonics

Phonics Glossary

What is phonics?

What are the pure sounds?