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English (including Reading)

The skills that children acquire in English remain with them throughout their lives, and enable them not only to read and write, but to communicate, socialise and interact with others in our society.

 

In school, the work we do in English impacts on every subject area, whether it be explaining a chosen method of working in Maths, debating an issue in an R.E. lesson, writing a letter, report or leaflet as part of our IPC work or agreeing the rules of fair play in sport sessions. Beyond the confines of the classroom, children interact socially on the playground, taking part in creative and inventive role-play situations as well as taking turns in games, they engage in dialogue with other adults when eating packed lunches or having hot school meals, and they demonstrate listening skills during Assembly time.

 

English is taught every day at Ellison Boulters.

The skills of WRITING are broken down into four sub-strands:

 

TRANSCRIPTION is initiated through a carefully taught phonics programme in Reception and Key Stage 1. This is developed as children move into Key Stage 2 (or whenever an individual child is ready to make the transition) through a carefully-planned programme of Support for Spelling, which enables children to understand rules, groups, patterns and exceptions, and how to apply these to their writing both in English and across the wider curriculum. Children become proficient at using a dictionary to check for accuracy of spelling as they move further up the school, and a range of dictionaries are available to suit individual needs. Thesauri are used by children in Key Stage 2 to further help and support vocabulary expansion.

 

The teaching of HANDWRITING is structured to ensure that pupils move from forming recognisable marks in Reception, whether on paper using a range of media, through to writing, for example, in sand, mud or shaving foam, through to use of a fully cursive script at the upper end of the school. Teachers follow our handwriting policy to ensure consistency for children, and letters are grouped together for teaching purposes to enable greater progression of skills. A strong emphasis is placed on the quality of presentation in all aspects of our curriculum.

 

The building blocks of writing are VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR and PUNCTUATION. When children enter the school, they explore and expand vocabulary by interacting with the environment and those around them, and we believe that in creating environments which are immersive and allow for role-play, we can extend this successful Early Years ethos throughout the school to encourage the expansion of vocabulary for all children. Grammar is taught in discrete focused blocks, as part English teaching time, and through other subjects whenever and wherever possible, to ensure maximum exposure. An example of this would be the Word Class game used in French lessons. Punctuation pervades every level of our study of English; children are asked to comment on the effect of punctuation in guided reading, they use lists and bullet points when writing about scientific investigations and they use speech punctuation when retelling, for example, the story of the Hajj in R.E.

 

COMPOSITION: Our underlying belief here is that children should enjoy writing, and develop a love of writing with a sense of pride and achievement in their work. Any good composition, whether it be the opening of an adventure story, a description of a dilemma a character is facing, a free haiku or tanka, a newspaper report about an archaeological dig, a set of instructions for how to build your own volcano or a persuasive letter to convince Mrs. Scott to buy new playground equipment, should begin with a shared discussion. Planning should begin with sharing ideas and the opportunity to practice words, phrases and sentences aloud. As children move up the school, planning becomes more formalised but is still underpinned by a “sea of talk.”[1] 

 

Children appreciate that writing is for a huge range of purposes and that audience and reader vary depending on the composition; we draw on our own experiences as readers to aid and support us in our composition work. As with all areas of English, writing reaches far beyond the confines of a single subject area, but we do plan time every week for children to engage in a period of extended writing through our Big Write sessions.

 

READING

Ellison Boulters is a school which loves books. All children read every day, whether as part of our guided reading programme, reading aloud to an adult as part of the reading scheme, or though shared reading of a text which is a prompt in English and other subject areas. Please visit our dedicated Reading pages for further information about how we aim to inspire and promote a love of reading for all involved in our school community.

 

The two inter-twined strands of DECODING and COMPREHENSION form the core of our work in developing children’s reading skills, but reading can never sit in isolation; it underpins and supports writing, it acts as a stimulus for speaking and listening activities and it is a key skill which must be in place for children to succeed across the curriculum.

 

Our reading scheme draws on a range of published materials, starting with Floppy Phonics and the Oxford Reading Tree scheme in Key Stage 1, with Discovery World and Fireflies running alongside to provide children with access to non-fiction texts. We also use the Songbirds and Project X books to give added breadth, and there are free readers at each stage. As children progress into Key Stage 2, they continue to use the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, Project X books, Tree Tops and free readers at every stage to ensure that all children have access to a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books to suit all interests and abilities. We strongly believe in encouraging breadth of reading; the colour of the sticker or the numbering system on the book or stage are for teacher guidance only, and we ensure that all children read as widely as possibly, and from as great a variety of texts as possible.

 

We run guided reading sessions for all our children from Year 1 upwards; children read a book in sections (including picture books, information books, poetry books, collections of short stories and longer novels), and then they prepare activities based on what they have read independently. They then meet as part of a small group once a week for a discussion about what they have read and their reactions to it. Part of this session includes each child having the chance to read aloud to the group and the teacher.

 

SPEAKING is a core skill which we encourage, teach and plan for across the curriculum. Children are taught to take turns, understand conventions of politeness, engage in role-play and drama sessions, plan for speaking by preparing and delivering speeches and play scripts, recite poetry and prose which they have learnt by heart and understand that different situations need different registers. Children from Ellison Boulters take part in the Lincoln Drama Festival and drama is evident across our curriculum and also in our shows which we perform to parents and the local community.

 

 

WOW days and trips often form the basis for our work in IPC, but English skills are always used widely throughout these days, whether discussing an exhibit at the National Space Centre, predicting what will happen in the Tornado Tunnel at Magma, or sharing exhibits with visitors to our stand at the Lincolnshire Show. Follow-up work often includes writing a recount of the day, a diary entry, a letter of thanks, a set of instructions on how to build something or a piece of creative writing which has been developed from a stimulus on a visit or WOW Day. We consider the development of subject-specific vocabulary to be essential for children, whether it be the expansion of mathematical vocabulary, scientific terminology or topic themed words and phrases which link to IPC work.

 

The English Curriculum at Ellison Boulters is reflected in our school improvement priorities for this year. Our aims for this year are:

 

  • to continue to raise standards in reading across the school at all levels;
  • to continue to improve the teaching and learning of SPAG (spelling, grammar and punctuation) throughout the school;
  • to improve writing standards across the curriculum.

 

At Ellison Boulters Church of England we aim to create a community of readers, writers, thinkers and debaters who can share a love of reading and writing whilst gaining skills which will equip them for secondary school and beyond. 

 


[1] Britton, J. (1970). Language and learning. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press.

 

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