At South Borough our English curriculum celebrates the importance of English in all aspects of daily life and has been developed to ignite children's love of reading, writing and discussion, from the moment they join us. We believe that good literacy education is pivotal to every area of learning and recognise the huge contribution reading, writing and oracy make to the development of a child’s imagination, as well as their understanding of the world. We place great importance on nurturing a culture where children are passionate about reading, take huge pride in their writing and can clearly and accurately adapt their spoken language skills for a range of contexts.
By supporting the progress of every pupil, we aim to inspire confidence in our learners as readers, writers and effective members of society, who are able to use discussion to communicate and further their learning. We are passionate about providing an environment where every child sees themselves as a writer and is able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. By reading, thinking, sharing and talking about writing, our pupils are provided with the tools to learn alongside their peers, whilst building on their own cultural capital, as they turn thoughts into their own writing voice. As we guide our pupils on their personal journey to becoming successful writers, every child, regardless of their individual starting point, is encouraged to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage and develop a life-long love of literature.
Our English curriculum recognises the key role that language and literacy play in enabling children to communicate their thoughts and ideas to others and embeds inclusive teaching strategies for all pupils. Writing from Years 1 to 6 is taught daily within a carefully developed sequence of learning. English lessons are planned using National Curriculum statements, alongside our English Progression of Skills document and the Swale Trust Writing Scheme. Structured, well considered planning ensures our teaching is well sequenced, builds on knowledge and skills gained as pupils progress through the primary curriculum and ultimately enables learners to access the next stage of their education and beyond. A range of embedded inclusive teaching strategies are used within every classroom, as well as generic adaptations for individual SEND pupils.
Our English teaching immerses pupils in purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion, with relevant resources and high level texts to motivate, inspire and engage pupils. Children discover the various components of the writing process, including: planning; drafting; editing and publishing, as they consider the purpose of good writing: whether it is to entertain, persuade or to inform. Throughout this, pupils are encouraged to consider their audience, as they learn to write for a variety of readers.
With a focus on spoken language in EYFS and Key Stage 1, learning opportunities include role play and the retelling of new or familiar stories, which provide valuable opportunities to develop vocabulary orally. By immersing children in stories, poems and non-fiction texts, we aim to support the early development of vocabulary, language and a love of the reading experience. Within the early teaching of writing, language development and the acquisition of language skills sit alongside the development of phonics knowledge of our youngest learners through the Read Write Inc programme. Letter formation is linked to pupils’ learning in phonics, ensuring children have the skills to write words using the graphemes they have been taught. Similarly, early writing activities use the knowledge and skills already acquired, just as in the early stages of learning to read. This approach is carefully designed to ensure success for our youngest children. As children develop their learning in phonics, letter formation and writing skills, they continue to use oral retelling of stories and repeating words in a sentence they wish to write. This allows children to increase fluency in spelling and handwriting, and, in time, to focus on the compositional aspects of their writing.
As spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing, children continue to develop their speaking and listening skills throughout their primary education. Poetry, drama, workshops, discussion and debate are all carefully planned within our curriculum, alongside constant opportunities to acquire new and exciting vocabulary. Children are exposed to a variety of high quality texts in English, and within every lesson pupils will experience the joy of the written word.
The Swale Trust Writing Scheme is designed to enable pupils to produce a high-quality example of one specific text-type, e.g. a story, set of instructions, poem or factual text, ensuring children are taught the necessary skills within each genre. Each writing sequence begins with pupils exploring, discussing and identifying the key features of a high quality model text (WAGOLL): children are encouraged to discuss the audience, purpose and skills required for each writing sequence, as well as having an example to motivate and inspire. Model texts specifically include examples of each key feature to be taught in the sequence, as well as consideration of the traditional devices that are often found in different types of stories, poems and other text-types. Subsequent scaffolding lessons are based on the teaching of each key feature as a skill and include specific and contextualised teaching of how to identify, interpret and employ relevant features of a given text-type. They include a range of teacher modelling, reading, writing and speaking and listening opportunities, as well as pre-writing activities, where children may research an unfamiliar topic, or arrange their ideas visually. Writing tasks, consisting of a range of independent and or grouped tasks, gradually increase from word and sentence level tasks to more extended writing opportunities. Within these scaffolding lessons is the integrated teaching of SPaG. Handwriting skills through our Pen Pals scheme and spelling through the No Nonsense Spelling programme are taught alongside each sequence of learning to ensure children’s skills develop in line with National Curriculum requirements.
By the time pupils reach the stage within a sequence of learning where they record a full draft of their own version of a text-type, they will have had the opportunity to practise employing all of the key features. Much of this practice may be on the learning wall, resulting from pupil opportunities to collaborate ideas, without the high-stakes nature of writing in books. This work, together with purposeful and subject-specific vocabulary banks, is then used as a resource, designed to support children’s writing, alongside engendering a greater degree of independence. During extended writing lessons, a calm and purposeful atmosphere is encouraged, as is allowing adequate time for pupils to commit their ideas to writing.
In Years 2 to 6, children’s draft piece of writing is both self and peer edited to ensure it is of the highest quality before publishing. This important stage of the writing process involves pupils working in mixed ability groups, where they have the opportunity to read aloud their work and others’, as well as taking part in conversations about how all group members’ writing can be improved. A clear order of priority is established during these sessions, to ensure children are aware of the focus. During the editing process children will discuss whether the content is accurate and suitable for the text-type, give examples of where vocabulary could be up-levelled and identify spelling and grammatical errors or omissions.
Children are aware that publishing is an important part of any writing project, and in Years 2 to 6 a final draft is often written in a child’s Writing Portfolio. Here, the wealth of writing opportunities undertaken by a pupil is beautifully showcased. Alternative ways to celebrate a completed sequence of learning include performing, where children are often eager to participate in a variety of ways to demonstrate their writing talents as well as their speaking and listening skills. Year group productions are enjoyed by many and provide children with physical, social and emotional opportunities, as well as exposing them to a healthy appreciation of culture and the arts.
Leaders continue to consider ways to bring the school together to develop a collective love of writing: one way this is done is through a Whole School Writing Task. A carefully chosen text is selected for its ability to appeal to a wide age range, and is studied by all classes within a shared sequence of learning. As children are immersed in the language and literary conventions of the text, even our most reluctant of writers are inspired to create writing, they they can be proud of, writing alongside our highest achieving pupils, as they are motivated to experiment with language in new, challenging ways.The resulting writing is always of an extremely high standard and is proudly showcased throughout the school.
Throughout the school the literary achievements of all children are celebrated. Where necessary children will receive scaffolding to ensure they make progress in line with their peers. Our more able writers are provided with opportunities to discuss and explore conventions associated with a specific text-type and are then encouraged to emulate that authorial voice within their own writing. Precision of vocabulary and an awareness of literary conventions gives some pupils the ability to draw on what they read as they transfer this to their writing.
Teachers use a range of ongoing formative assessment strategies, in addition to summative assessment, to ensure pupils have the best opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to achieve age related expectations in reading and writing. Regular internal moderation of writing acts as a valuable tool to ensure consistent standards and reliable outcomes, whilst providing a benchmark to support teacher judgements. This valuable process, whilst ensuring quality assurance, also provides colleagues across key stages the opportunity to collaborate, developing teacher subject knowledge and supporting them to create writing goals with pupils that build over time, according to specific and individual needs and extend the breadth of pupils’ knowledge.