Planning the English Curriculum
When planning the units of work for English, we spent lots of time thinking about which grammar and punctuation objectives from the National Curriculum would work well with each purpose.
We then chose five or six key objectives to really embed within the unit. We chose to focus on two main outcomes each half term. This meant that in lessons leading up to writing a final piece, we were able to really embed their grammar and punctuation skills; spend time investigating vocabulary appropriate to the piece; unpicking high quality examples; creating plans and writing collaboratively with peers.
The end results in the four writing purposes document below which guides the English Writing process in school.
Read more about our teaching of English:
Reading, Writing and SPAG
Here at St Philip’s every lesson is an English lesson and will include some aspect of speaking, reading or writing to help develop skills, knowledge and understanding in other subject areas.
From Year 1, children who show mastery of writing will have a clear authorial voice with evident purpose and audience. Their writing will show control and restraint both of word choices and structures. They will often drew on models from reading, and manipulate them for their own purposes. They will also have the stamina to write for extended periods.
Teachers plan longer sequences of work in English to allow children to know a book inside and out, to look at how writers use language and words to impact on the reader and use them as models for their own writing.
Topics from other curriculum areas are linked to wonderful, high-quality books which can be thoroughly explored. Teachers place less emphasis on covering so many text types in each year group; identifying fewer text types to be taught, but teaching them in greater depth, so that that children are secure in the types taught and can write them in any context with confidence. Instructions, for example, can be taught and secured in Year 2. There will be many purposeful opportunities to write instructions across the curriculum all through Key Stage 2.
Mastery of Writing is about effective not formulaic writing. Children are beginning to understand that they need to make choices about the sentences and words in their writing. Simply applying a 'list' of grammatical features will not make great writing. eg - finding adjectives to describe a tiger went from first thoughts of orange, scary, stripy to majestic, fiery, ravenous. In the past, we have been too quick to accept first responses and too slow to say when a word choice is not effective. Mastery means children must be able to understand how to improve their work Using proofreading to check for accuracy – spelling, punctuation and correct grammar. Time to explore words, develop phrases, play with sentences and paragraphs means that children always consider impact on the reader when they write. When they recall the skill or feature and use it appropriately without prompting in their writing. At that point, children are doing this consistently, they have secured the learning.
Teachers will look for opportunities for children to write for real purposes, eg sports journalism - reporting on school competitions; writing to local businesses to request information or to support fund raising. Throughout the year children have the chance to show mastery in oracy skills in Christmas productions, class acts of worship and special assemblies.
To master English and achieve beyond the expectations for their age, children must be able to independently apply their Reading, Writing and Speaking skills in a range of contexts across all curriculum subjects.
To support children in addressing any misconceptions in writing, teachers set them an unaided writing task at the beginning of unit – this is called the 'Cold Write'. Teachers use the work produced to create a series of lessons which build on children’s prior knowledge and addresses any misconceptions. At the end of each unit, teachers then ask children to complete another unaided piece of work similar to that the beginning of the unit – this is called the 'Hot Write'.
To enable all children to be become self-regulated readers by the end of Year 6 reading lessons are designed around the content domains of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Children are taught a variety of techniques in each area with each domain taught through high quality reading texts.
Primarily, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar is embedded through our writing model whereby children are taught the National Curriculum requirements 'in action'. Teachers will plan their unit between the ‘Cold and Hot’ writes to ensure genre specific Spellings, Punctuation and Grammar are taught where appropriate. Alongside this, teachers teach explicit lessons to ensure children’s knowledge of National Curriculum requirements is fully understood and becomes second nature.
Read Write Inc - Our Phonics Scheme
The government strongly recommend the use of synthetic phonics when teaching early literacy skills to children. Synthetic phonics is simply the ability to convert a letter or letter group into sounds that are then blended together into a word.
Here at the St Philips Catholic Primary School, we are using the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their literacy. RWI is a method of learning based upon letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.
Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who can read more challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.
Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so they can put all their energy into composing what they write.
The children are assessed regularly and grouped according to their ability. They will work with a RWI trained teacher or teaching assistant. In addition to the RWI, children will also be working on writing skills in their classes with their own teacher.
The Read Write Inc Manager at the St Philips Catholic Primary School is Mrs Underhill. If you have any questions or need any guidance on the programme, please pop into the school office or give them a call and they will arrange an appointment for you.
When using RWI to read the children will:
When using RWI to write the children will:
When using RWI the children will also work in pairs:
Help your child learn to read words by sounding-blending (Fred talk) eg. c-a-t = cat, sh-o-p = shop. Children learn to read words by blending the letter-sounds that are in the Speed Sounds set (shown further down the page).
Help your child to say the pure sounds ('m' not 'muh', 's' not 'suh' etc.) as quickly as they can, and then blend the sounds together to say the whole word.
Support your child at home using the following guide:
Children in Reception who are learning the first 44 letter sounds and are not blending fluently will bring home sound sheets, picture books and a library book for you to read with them.
Once children can blend fluently and know the first 44 sounds they will bring home Ditty sheets or a red Ditty book, an Oxford Reading Tree or Storyworld book and a library book.
Children on Green level to Orange level will bring home a RWI book, an Oxford Reading Tree or Treetop book and a library book; these will be changed every 3/4 days.
Children on Yellow level to Grey level will also bring home a RWI book, an Oxford Reading Tree or Treetop book and a library book. As these books are lengthier, these will be changed once a week.
Read Write Inc Books: (This is your child's main reading book) Please encourage your child to read though the speed sounds page first, then the green and red words page and then check your child understands the meaning of words on the vocabulary check page, before they start reading the book. Your child will have read this book at least three times before they bring it home. They should be able to read this book with fluency and expression by the time they bring it home and they should have a good comprehension of what the book is about. At the back of the book are find it/prove it questions for you to do with your child.
Oxford Tree/Treetops Books: (These books are to support is your child's main reading book) These books are to extend your child's reading. Your child should be able to read most of this book however they might need a little support, especially with the first read.
Visit the Oxford Owl website (external link) which has has over 100 free ebooks for to enjoy with your child.
What else can I do to help my child learn to read?
Purchasing your own set of RWI sound cards will enable your child to practise the sounds he or she has already learnt and will be most beneficial. Please refrain from teaching new sounds until they have been taught at school. You can obtain them and other resources such as the Parent Handbook from Amazon.
Reading a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction, rhymes etc.) Discuss the different features of the books. Talk about the books and other reading materials that you have shared. Explain the meaning of new words. See if your child could change a part of the story to make a new version. You could use puppets or soft toys to retell the story. Most importantly though, show that fun can be gained by listening to stories and reading a range of texts, eg. cereal packets, shopping lists, road signs, web pages, magazines, comics, newspapers etc.
Finally, don't worry if your child is struggling at first with their sounds and words, they will get there in their own time. If you have time (we know it is very precious!), we would urge you to try and read stories to your child before they go to bed. This will help develop a wider vocabulary which makes a vast difference to their quality of writing but it will also encourage them to enjoy a good story.