The Curriculum and Writing
Books form the core of our English curriculum. They are the key which unlocks for pupils the pleasure of reading, the exposure to new vocabulary and the satisfaction of writing well. In both key stages, children explore fiction and non-fiction and a wide variety of writing styles: narrative and creative, diary, poetry, information and explanatory, instructions and persuasion. Pupils’ writing is assessed regularly by teachers and this assessment informs the planning of lessons. The learning target of each lesson focuses on the key skills children need to develop in order to become fluent and expressive writers.
We aim to develop a life-long love of books and reading in every child. The ability to read fluently and with a confident understanding is the foundation for a child’s progress in all areas of learning. These reading skills are taught in our daily Guided Reading sessions and during English lessons. Parents are asked to hear their child read aloud at home every day and to discuss what is read, recording this in homework diaries. Sustained reading for pleasure is developed and supported during independent, silent reading sessions in class and through the expectation that parents will encourage this at home too. Reading conferences with the headteacher promote the importance and enjoyment of reading books by giving children the opportunity to discuss a book they have recently completed.
We aim to ensure that all children hear quality texts read aloud by their teachers in class and by their parents and carers at home every day. Reading aloud to children feeds their imagination and supports their speaking and writing by exposing them to a richness of language and a sophisticated fluency of expression which is rarely used in everyday speech and which children may only hear in books which are at a higher level than their own reading ability.
(Please refer to the Class Time Reading Aloud for Pleasure grid below for a selection of the books read aloud to the children in class)
Guided Reading groups meet daily. The groups are set by reading ability and enable a teacher to meet each day with a different group to engage in “book talk”. When a group is not working with the teacher, they are doing independent reading activities or preparing for their group reading discussion.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening are vital parts of English lessons. Pupils are encouraged to articulate their thoughts before writing, share ideas with a partner, and participate in group and whole-class discussions. Debating skills are taught to develop the art of argument and to enhance listening skills. Oral storytelling, poetry recital and narration are developed in both key stages. Each class leads a Learning Assembly where every pupil has the opportunity to speak in front of a large audience of pupils, staff and parents.
Phonics is taught daily in our EYFS class and in Years 1 and 2. We follow the Floppy Phonics scheme which is set across Key Stage One. Year 3 children who still need phonics teaching to improve their reading fluency are placed in appropriate phonics groups. Each pupil works within a small group, led by a teacher or teaching assistant. Teachers plan cooperatively and meet with teaching assistants regularly to ensure the highest standards of teaching are being met. All staff receive regular training, refreshers and the chance to share good practice. At Wateringbury, good phonic knowledge is viewed as an important skill for all ages to support sophisticated vocabulary development and complex spellings.
In Years 3 – 6, we follow the Read Write Inc. spelling scheme. Children are grouped by ability, and a spelling/handwriting lesson is taught daily. Children are tested weekly on spellings. Our approach is to develop an interest in words from the earliest age so that the desire and ability to spell well become a natural part of a child’s development and motivation. Teachers expect to see an improvement in spelling generally within a child’s written English work as a result of the daily spelling lesson and the school’s approach to words and language.