English Curriculum at Beech Grove
At Beech Grove, we recognise the importance of early reading and value the need to establish a strong reading culture. We are very aware of the correlation between reading ability and wider academic success. Therefore, we consider learning to read, to be of paramount importance.
Throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, reading is taught explicitly as part of the Read, Write Inc. programme (RWI) as well as in a 1:1 context. RWI operates a ‘keep up, not catch up’ approach to targeting any children who are struggling with the pace of learning, using tailored tutoring sessions in the afternoons to revisit specific sounds or rehearse blending skills.
In Key Stage 2, children participate in guided reading, group reading and shared reading sessions, in addition to 1:1 reading times. In Key Stage 2, various additional reading supports are in place to support those pupils who are current below age related expectation in reading attainment or who struggle with specific areas of reading. These include RWI phonics (Y3/4), RWI Fresh Start (Y5/6), ILI (Individual Literacy Intervention),Trugs and Project X Code.
From Year 2 onwards the children use the Accelerated Reader scheme where each book is tailored to be a challenge within their ability level. The child then completes an online quiz to be able to proceed to the next level. This ensures every child achieves success and pleasure from reading.
Daily reading practise is essential, but so is the enjoyment of books. For this reason, every class has a timetabled daily story time and weekly library time. We celebrate reading through our Reading Challenge incentive, as well as national events like World Book Day. Our school Librarians assist with the running of our welcoming library.
See links to Pie Corbett’s Reading Spine below, which give extensive lists of recommended books to read with children in specific year groups.
At Beech Grove, our pupils participate in a wide variety of writing experiences. They draw from real life experiences, cross curricular enrichment opportunities and factual or creative pieces inspired by high quality books or events. We encourage children to write for a purpose and for enjoyment. We do this by planning a range of writing stimuli that will model and motivate children to write.
We follow a whole school approach called ‘Talk for Writing’. Children are taught genre-specific texts and follow a cycle of ‘imitate’, ‘innovate’ and ‘independent application’. We understand the importance of developing and broadening vocabulary, so each text is carefully constructed to meet National Curriculum objectives, broaden vocabulary and sentence construction and to meet the needs of the audience and purpose. Each unit begins with a ‘cold write’, which enables teachers to adapt the teaching sequence to what the children need. After the initial cold write, the children experience a ‘WOW’ starter to try and hook them into the new unit. The ‘imitate’ phase consists of learning new vocabulary which builds on prior knowledge and children are taught grammar and punctuation lessons linked to the text. This is then rounded off with a ‘reading as a reader’ lesson, which focusses on their understanding of the text after being immersed in it throughout the week.
In Reception and Key Stage 1, there is more of an emphasis on learning the text by heart, which fully immerses the children in the language and any associated grammar or punctuation. The ‘innovate’ stage is where the children ‘have a go’ at using and applying their new knowledge and skills through shared, guided and independent writing opportunities. The ‘innovate’ stage begins with ‘boxing up the text’ so that children understand what happens in each section of a narrative or non-fiction/poetry text. As a class, they discuss what tools are required for it to be a successful piece of writing. We encourage pupils to take ownership of their writing and to make conscious choices about which of the tools they use.
In addition, we have ‘non-negotiables’ linked to each year group’s National Curriculum writing objectives, so every child knows the minimum expectation. This phase is developmental in nature, thus every child will have a ‘next step’ marking comment to respond to in the next lesson; this also provides time to progress the skill of editing and improving. The ‘independent application’ stage is recorded in their English books and is completed immediately after the ‘innovate’ stage. This is where the children get to plan their own narrative, non-fiction or poetry, based on the skills taught and the knowledge they have gained. ‘Invent’ opportunities are planned across the curriculum to give children the opportunity to showcase their talents across the curriculum. This is a useful assessment tool for teaching staff. In both the ‘independent application’ and ‘invent’ stage, time to edit and improve their work is developed further through teaching and learning time. Children are given opportunities to publish some pieces of work.
High quality, vocabulary rich texts that will capture pupil interest are used. These are known as ‘Texts that teach’. A text that teaches has three things:
- something worth discussing
- rich language
- a plot/structure that is visible and a clear model for children's writing
Such texts are then explored by our children, using Talk for Writing techniques.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Beneath the awe and wonder of inspirational texts, is the need to address the basic skills of spelling, punctuation and grammar. In Key Stage 1, this is catered for by the Read, Write Inc. programme. In Key Stage 2, these key skills are addressed through focused daily practise, coupled with specific longer sessions that use the Nelson scheme and Rising Stars grammar. Spellings are a key focus. Weekly spellings are taken from the statutory word lists (see below). Twinkle spelling scheme is used throughout Key Stage 2 and for those pupils in Year 2 who have completed the RWI programme.
In EYFS and KS1, the focus of handwriting is writing position, correct grip and accurate letter formation. This is taught during Read Write Inc. sessions and is linked to phonics learning. As children move off the RWI programme and through KS2, a Nelson handwriting scheme is followed. This provides a clear and consistent whole-school handwriting approach.
Children then move towards joining letters and developing their own fully cursive script to ensure they meet the ‘expected standard’ in the end of key stage writing teacher assessments. When children are consistently joining their writing, maintaining equal height of lower case letters and showing clearly distinguished ascenders and descenders, they earn their much coveted pen licence.
Vocabulary is a vital element to reading and writing and an essential part of a child’s education. It helps with comprehension whilst reading a text, writing interesting stories to interest the reader and understanding a non-fiction text. From ages 6 to 8, the average child in school is learning 6–7 new words per day, and from age 8 to 10, approximately 12 new words per day. Here are a few fun games to share to increase your child’s confidence and understanding of new words. Practising their new words daily will help embed the understanding and confidence in language.