Holy Name is proud to be part of a richly diverse community across our federation and we want all of our children to flourish. Appreciating that language has a leading place in education and society, we provide a high-quality curriculum in English. We teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas, researched facts, opinions and feelings to others and, through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
At the heart of Holy Name’s English curriculum, high-quality literature ensures that every lesson is engaging and purposeful, enabling our children to access language, grammar and punctuation in context, acquire knowledge and build upon what they already know. The content has been carefully selected to reflect our diverse school community as well as complementing and deepening the understanding of other curriculum areas to inspire children’s speaking, listening, reading and writing opportunities. In addition to the main text chosen to inspire each unit, resources such as digital texts, picture books, paintings, songs, poems, lyrics, TV, film and media clips are also used as a stimulus to engage our children. Effective teaching strategies are employed so that every child can build upon their successes. Through developing the fundamental skills of language as a means of communication, including the acquisition of new vocabulary, we give our children access to all of the other subjects taught and provide vital skills for future learning as well as life beyond the classroom.
A love of reading is shared from the moment pupils begin their education at Holy Name. Our youngest children are immersed in language through books and environmental print as well as listening to and sharing songs, poems and stories. Using phonics as their first strategy, we teach children to become fluent readers and actively encourage reading for pleasure. We believe that every child can love reading and we inspire in them a want to read for themselves. We teach children to be curious about our world, to ask questions and to engage with texts to form their own ideas.
Children have opportunities to write every day to develop their confidence, fluency and voice. With genuine links to their reading, we endeavour to engage all writers, but especially those who may at first appear reluctant. While a range of genres are modelled in order to develop children’s knowledgebase, there is some flexibility within the curriculum for children to choose their own written response to a stimulus and children are guided through the planning, drafting, revising, editing and publishing process for whatever type of writing they choose to do. At Holy Name, we understand that children learn best when there is a purpose to their learning. Therefore, whenever possible, the writing that children are asked to produce, will have a genuine purpose and audience.
Statutory requirements for the teaching and learning of English are laid out in the ‘Communication and Language’ and ‘Literacy’ sections of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021) and in the National Curriculum in England: English Programmes of Study – Key Stages 1 and 2 (2014).
Building on the aims of the statutory frameworks and considering the unique context of Holy Name, we intend our children to:
- be interested in books and read for pleasure and for information both in school and at home;
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;
- have an interest in words and their meaning and a growing vocabulary, including a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing as well as other areas of their learning;
- have fluent and legible handwriting;
- understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell confidently, fluently and with understanding;
- develop an awareness of purpose and audience for both written and oral language and develop an understanding of how purpose can dictate form;
- be able to reflect on and accurately evaluate their own and others’ contributions, feeding back sensitively and acting on advice as appropriate;
- write confidently in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to a range of situations;
- be confident, competent and expressive users of the language with a developing knowledge of how it works, e.g. grammar, spelling and punctuation;
- plan, draft, revise, edit and publish their own writing;
- be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At Holy Name we endeavour to instil a lifelong love of literature both in school, at home, in partnership with our local libraries, and through national initiatives, including the ever-popular World Book Day. It is vitally important to us at Holy Name that children see themselves in stories and information books. Therefore, each class begins the academic year with a book inspired by Black History to provide positive characters and role models who look like our children.
Teaching reading skills and developing a love of books is vital within the Early Years. As such, there is great emphasis on the teaching of phonics, which begins in the Nursery, moving throughout the EYFS and into Year 1 with the ambition that all children can learn the English alphabetic code: the 150 plus graphemes that represent 44 speech sounds. The children rapidly learn sounds and the letter, or groups of letters they need to represent them, in 3 sets of Speed Sounds lessons. This knowledge is taught every day. Lively phonic books are closely matched to the child’s knowledge of phonics, through the Read Write Inc scheme. Yet, to teach children where they are at, pupils are placed into small groups so that each child is taught at the level they are ready for with their home/school reading book also closely matching this level. These groups are fluid as children are regularly assessed. This has proved particularly important as we support children in accelerating their progress after the pandemic. Phonics is taught daily to all pupils within the EYFS and Key Stage 1, plus there are interventions in place for those children in KS2 who still need extra tuition.
Children have the opportunity to revisit previous learning, learn new skills, practise and apply their increasing phonic knowledge in an engaging environment. Increasing phonological awareness supports children’s ongoing decoding development and is just part of what makes a child a successful reader. All children have daily opportunities to explore and read a variety of materials in school, including reading regularly with an adult. Each classroom has a dedicated reading area; which children are able to access throughout the day.
Guided reading sessions are planned and implemented regularly across the school. In Nursery, children have focused reading sessions in smaller groups, where they share a familiar book together. In Reception children follow guided reading sessions based upon Read Write Inc story sessions, these are delivered in small groups with opportunities to apply their phonetic knowledge, and develop comprehension skills and Year 1, children are grouped and have small guided reading sessions led by an adult. Children focus on a book which is one band above the colour of their home reading book. From Year 2 upwards, children are taught as a whole class to begin with, followed by group-based activities to provide more in-depth analysis of the text being explored. From Year 2 in Guided Reading we use the Pathways to Read scheme which is linked to our English lessons and whole school curriculum. Pathways to Read follows a mastery approach to learning with three categories of skills developed each half term:
- Ongoing skills - linked to text choices and achieved through selection of teaching activities
- Core skills - prediction, vocabulary development and retrieval
- Mastery skills - 2-3 objectives are focused on for pupils to master over the course of the half-term
Every child is given a colour-banded reading book to take home to enjoy and practise the skills learned in school. We encourage children to read daily with their caregivers and request that each child’s reading record is utilised to comment upon their reading and as a method of communication between home and school.
To begin their reading journey, in Reception and where needed in Key Stage 1, children are often given a decodable reading book which specifically matches the phonics level they are working at, to build on their skills and consolidate their learning of sounds. We use books that are then banded by colour and vary in a range of ways including layout, size, vocabulary and length, to give children a rich diet of literature. Some of the schemes of books we use in school are Oxford Reading Tree, Big Cat Collins and Alien X Adventures. The above is in addition to the Read Write Inc phonic reading book, which the children use in school and at home.
Where children are not reaching the standard for their age, interventions are put into place to support these learners, including additional guided reading opportunities, daily reading sessions with an adult, additional phonics lessons and some children will access additional interventions, including precision teaching, led by our highly qualified Interventions Manager.
Additionally, we have a thorough process, on entry to school, for newly arrived EAL children. They are assessed with English language development and are then supported with an individual structure and our EAL reading scheme, Rainbow Reader. The children are placed on this scheme at their appropriate level and complete further stages towards being placed on the correct level of reading, through our school reading scheme.
To create tangible links between learning, children in Reception follow the Read Write Inc Get Writing Programme which facilitates opportunities to write in context relating to the stories they read in their guided reading sessions. The Get Writing programme supports children to learn a key set of phonic skills, including grapheme recognition, phoneme pronunciation, oral segmenting, that can be transferred to writing in familiar contexts. To apply phonic knowledge to write words and sentences accurately. Children have opportunities to write some irregular common words, which cannot be segmented referred to as ‘red’ words. In following the programme children develop the ability write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.
Children across EYFS have daily writing opportunities which they access in continuous provision these include topic based writing opportunities, such as recording the weather, labelling their families, describing animals’ homes and incidental opportunities such as shopping lists, labels for models, cards and invitations for friends.
For further links between learning, we use the Pathways to Write programme to support the teaching and learning of English. Together with the Pathways to Read, the schemes provide the context for our curriculum and inspire children to use new and exciting vocabulary accurately and for a range of audiences.
The Pathways to Write programme contains age-related skills for children to work on and master through a variety of activities and writing opportunities. By limiting the number of skills the units contain, children can really hone their writing techniques which builds confidence and fluency and engages all writers. Each unit follows the same structure to support and challenge children:
- Hook the pupils into learning
- Establish Gateway keys (skills previously taught)
- Through a piece of independent writing, assess the Gateway keys so that prior learning which has not yet been grasped can be addressed by the teacher
- Teach and repeat [Gateway if required and] Mastery keys (new skills)
- Modelled and guided writing
- Practise and apply (multiple opportunities to write in a variety of familiar previously taught genres)
- Identify Feature keys (new genre-specific features)
- Plan a piece of independent writing (sequence, section, share with a friend)
- Opportunities to proofread, edit and draft
- Check against Mastery keys (teacher to assess for iTracker)
To help children to make links with other subjects, our curriculum has been designed so that the texts taught in English support learning elsewhere. For example, literature for English topics, especially in the first term, are linked to Black History. An example being in Year 4, where children will study about Katherine Johnson. Katherine Johnson also appears in the book studied by Year 5: ‘Young, Gifted and Black’. There is a rich opportunity for children to be exposed to key texts that relate to History and Black History. In Year 3, the English texts of ‘Stone Age Boy’ by Satoshi Kitamura, links to the Stone Age topic. In Year 5, with the Vikings and Anglo Saxons topic, the text that is used is ‘Myths of the Norsemen’ by Roger Lancelyn Green. By making links with literature, children can place historical vocabulary within a context and explore themes through stories.
To support children in their writing, we have also adopted Pathways to Spell, an engaging, multi-sensory programme to fascinate pupils about words. Children in Year 1 upwards take part in a series of lessons following a Review, Explain, Practise, Apply and Reflect model to develop a school of spellers who use a series of strategies in lessons and in their independent writing. It covers the whole national curriculum to build phonemic, orthographic, morphological and etymological knowledge. Like Pathways to Read and Pathways to Write, the context of Pathways to Spell is linked to the class text so that sentences written in a spelling lesson may also be employed within an English lesson to help children to make the connections between their learning.
Letter formation is taught alongside phonics from when children first begin to produce recognisable letters. This is now supported heavily in Early Years and Key Stage On, with Read Write Inc. In addition, the school has also adopted the MSL(Multi-Sensory Learning) Handwriting rescue scheme. Cursive writing is taught explicitly when children are ready in Reception/Year 1 or Year 2 and it is our aim that children can join their writing and use a pen by the end of KS1. We use an intervention Speed Up scheme supported by occupational therapists for children who need further support.
By mastering the knowledge, skills and understanding required in English, we equip our children with a voice so that they may become positive members of society with a wealth of experiences which reach far beyond the classroom. It is our ambition that our children are not only ‘secondary ready’ when they leave us but that they have the speaking, listening, reading and writing tools available to be the role models of the future.
Impact is measured through end of Key Stage Assessments in EYFS, Y2 and Y6 as well as phonic outcomes in Y1 and Y2. Phonic knowledge is assessed every six weeks to ensure that children remain in the correct group for their learning. Termly, we use the PiRA and GaPS tests. Data from Guided Reading and independent pieces of writing are used as an ongoing assessment tool for all year groups and data from teacher assessments and tests is inputted into iTracker and analysed termly. We also gather information from Accelerated Reader, which is an online system to support Reading and assessment. The children are assessed Termly on Star Reader and Early Star Reader in Key Stage 2. They are then placed on a book band colour for their reading book. Those children who are on our SEN list, are also assessed using GL Assessments- York Reader. They are assessed for Phonological awareness, early word recognition and then aspects of comprehension. The children on our SEN list are also tracked using B Squared, as well as iTracker.
Throughout the course of the year, the English subject leader undertakes pupil voice, observations of reading and book looks. These judgements will inform the curriculum and whether children are ready to progress to the next steps.