English subject information
Rationale: (why we teach the subject, context of BPS, why we teach and plan the subject as we do)
At Bournville, we are striving to equip all children with the tools required to read and write at a level that allows success across all areas of the curriculum and life. Through the acquisition of these skills, we hope to instill a love of reading and writing that is formed in the earliest stages of our early years provision, nurtured and developed through KS1 and 2 and then continues to flourish as the children transition into KS3 and beyond.
Following a progressive curriculum in both reading and writing, children are targeted to meet the age related expectations for their year group. The basis of these curriculums are phonics rich, using the Extend Letters and Sounds Program” to support early reading and writing skills in the way of letter and word formation. Newly introduced strategies such are guided and controlled writing are then used to progress children to independent sentence writing during the transition from EYFS to KS1. Once these writing fundamentals are secured, children develop their independent writing skills through carefully planned activities and learning journeys – often linked to high quality texts. These learning journeys offer the children the chance to learn all aspects of the English curriculum including planning, editing and publishing.
Reading also follows the phonics approach as children are taught the 44 phonemes of the English language and graphemes that correspond to them. Securing this knowledge allows the children to access books and texts independently and further reading skills such as inference, vocabulary and sequencing are taught through discreet and daily guided reading sessions.
At Bournville Primary, we follow the Learning Exchange’s “Y2 – 6 Spelling Program” to deliver the appropriate SPAG objectives to children from Y2 upwards. This progressive document follows on from the phonics program and allows spelling rules to be introduced as it works alongside the National Curriculum objectives for each year group.
Subject organisation: (eg hours taught if year groups)
English is taught on a daily basis, with all areas of the English curriculum being address throughout the day. Teachers will plan opportunities for children to read and write each day, with some writing occurring in a cross curricular manner. The English curriculum time can be divided as teachers deem fit each day as the planned learning journeys (linked to a high quality text) often require immersion and exploration elements where little writing is completed inside the “English” lesson. These sessions are still vital to the journey as a whole and give the children a well balanced understanding of the English curriculum. Guided Reading sessions are conducted in a carousel fashion, with a daily rotation as well as individual reading opportunities worked into the day. SPAG is also covered daily. In KS1, phonics will form a vital component of the daily timetable whereas in KS2, teachers will ensure an equal coverage of both spelling and punctuation/grammar sessions over a fortnightly period.
Pedagogical approaches: (how do we teach the subject and why do we choose to use that approach)
Our English curriculum is based on the National Curriculum objectives and follows a sequential and progressive structure which allows children to secure a fundamental understanding of the English language (in both written and word form). As previously mentioned, EYFS start the journey towards well equipped readers and writers through the teaching of mark making and oral story telling. This develops throughout the EYFS as children are introduced to the phonics curriculum where teachers are able to build on children’s knowledge of letters and sounds to support their reading and writing of words and early captions. This transitions into KS1 where children continue to follow a phonetic approach as they become secure in using the full range of GPCs when reading appropriate books for their level and then apply these GPCs in their independent writing. This reading and writing is initially support heavily with adult support until the children are deemed secure enough and equipped with tools to support them independently. The writing process is taught through “controlled write” sessions with small focus groups of children working with a member of staff. A particular GPC is identified and a simple sentence is constructed around it. Children are supported in practicing the formation of this GPC before being taught the process of oral repetition and then the writing of the sentence. This small group focus allows for clear differentiation across the class and is an opportunity to address any gaps in the phonics curriculum. This approach is used until the children are secure in step 3 phonics. This means they have a secure understanding of the initial GPCS for the 44 phonemes in the English language. Once children have reached this stage, they are encouraged to apply their newly acquired skills to write independently, using a phonetic approach to spelling words. As the children progress through KS1, sequences of learning are introduced through the “Bournville 8 Part Planning Cycle”. This planning cycle was devised to allow teachers to plan a sequence of learning that encompasses all parts of the English Curriculum – from immersion to publishing. Working alongside a high quality text, teachers identify a genre of writing that the children will produce a piece work in the form of. This learning journey can last as little as two weeks or stretch up to 4 or 5 weeks depending on the depth of immersion and modelling required. A key component of the planning loop is the high quality modelling that is shared by teachers. As a staff, we understand that we cannot expect children to produce high quality pieces of work if we haven’t first shared how to write and apply new skills ourselves.
A carousel approach to guided reading allows staff to plan effectively and appropriately based on the levels of children within the class. Phonics still plays a major part of the guided reading process as the first half of any adult led session is heavily focused on GPC recognition, sight word reading and vocabulary understanding. This works throughout the year groups, with spelling rules becoming a future focus on latter year groups. Children are then taught the discreet skills of comprehension through carefully planned questions linked to the text. Follow on activities are also well planned by teachers and are done in a manner which allows for independence.
SPAG and Phonics are taught using a structure that allows for revision of prior knowledge but also a heavy focus the acquisition and application of new learning. The sessions planned to last no longer than 20 minutes to ensure that content is delivered in a slick and pacey manner. Children are entitled to access the objectives for their year group and if intervention is required, this often takes place as additional Phonics or SPAG input.
Tools and learning environments are also designed to support the independent reading and writing.
Bournville Primary school follows Extend Letters and Sounds.
This programme is a nine step approach to the systematic teaching of phonics.
In the Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading carried out by Jim Rose in 2006, he clearly states that quality teaching of early reading, “involves a systematic approach to phonics which adheres to a small number of core principles”.
The core principles involve:
- children having knowledge of the alphabetic code;
- children having the skill to blend to read;
- children having the skill to segment to spell;
- children understanding these as a reversible process.
The knowledge children acquire to support their development of early reading is equally as relevant for their development as a writer. It is important that children are given equal opportunities to practise and apply their phonics skills in writing and reading tasks so that they can understand the relationship between decoding skills for reading and encoding skills for spelling.
These principles are underpinned by the modelling and teaching of good listening skills, combined with frequent opportunities to improve children’s visual and auditory memory and their ability to sequence. These skills are developed through the teaching of activities to promote phonological and phonemic awareness in young children before they embark upon a systematic phonics programme.
Knowledge of the alphabetic code
- A phoneme is a sound in a word. There are approximately 44 phonemes in the English language.
- A grapheme is a letter or sequence of letters that represents a phoneme.
There are approximately 140 different ways that graphemes are used to represent the 44 phonemes in the
These words each have three phonemes (separate sounds). Each of these phonemes is
represented by a grapheme:
- A digraph is a grapheme where two letters represent one sound kn representing /n/.
- A trigraph is a grapheme where three letters represent one sound igh representing /ie/.
Through the Learning Exchange Programme for Phonics into Early Spelling, children learn that:
phonemes are represented by grapheme the same phoneme can be represented by different graphemes:
- /c/ can be represented by c, k, ck, ch. Consider cat, kite, deck, chaos
- the same grapheme can represent different phonemes:
- ch can represent /c/ and /sh/ and /ch/. Consider Christmas, Charlotte and church
The English curriculum at Bournville aims to develop children’s skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening in a robust and responsive way. It also aims to develop a love of reading, writing and language which will last our children a lifetime and enable them to fulfil their potential once they leave us.
A love of reading is encouraged by an ever increasing range of provision such as:
- weekly library slots for all classes and all children able to take a library book home
- home library for nursery and pre-school changed weekly
- regular author visits
- whole school events and celebrations
- reading buddy schemes
- lunchtime story clubs
- school book club
- competitions and class based rewards
- daily reading of a class story for pleasure
Children are exposed to a wide range of high quality texts throughout the school. In the Early Years and KS1 this is supported by the core book list we have developed. These books are read to the children regularly so that they become familiar and the language and vocabulary begins to be embedded in the children’s own language patterns. The core texts also form the basis of play based activities in early years to allow children to use the language patterns in their play. In addition, the core list includes a range of nursery rhymes and poems to ensure that children experience a range of these in their time here.
In KS2 the texts children are exposed to are based on the ELAN Writing Curriculum. These texts have been carefully selected to ensure the children in each year group are exposed to a range of high quality texts which demonstrate excellent vocabulary choices, a range of narrative structures and give opportunities for children to build on their own prior experiences.
Bug Club is an online reading platform which the school now have access to. The children will each have their own personal log in that will take them to their account. Class teachers will be able to allocate books to the children that match their book level in school. This will mean the children can continue to read at home through the online platform without the physical need of numerous books. As an added bonus, the online versions of the books have ‘hotspots’ which challenge the children to answer questions based on what they have read.
To access Bug Club, simply search follow this link:
It is important for children to access texts that are appropriate for their ability in reading to enable them to apply the skills taught in phonics as well as other reading skills. Books for individual and guided reading are firstly banded based on their phonic step. It is vital that early reading is done through the use of phonically decodable texts and therefore we ensure that the first books children receive to read at home are matched to the phonic step they are on and contain graphemes that they will be familiar with at any point in their learning. "Big Cat: Letters and Sounds" are a publisher in which we use regular thanks to their easily decodable texts based on the phonics system.
Children are regularly assessed to ensure that their reading level is correct for them and this is done using running records and phonic assessments.
The important skill of decoding is taught using the Extend Letters and Sounds programme. Children in Reception and KS1 receive twice daily interactive phonics lessons to embed the skills of recognising graphemes and blending to read unknown words. There are also daily intervention groups to pre-teach and repeat parts of the programme as needed up to Year 3.
Guided reading is a fundamental part of a our provision at Bournville Primary School and is something in which we are frequently adapting based on the needs of our children. Using a carousel approach, teachers impact the development of reading skills through carefully planned group work. At Bournville, we have broken guided reading into three key stages:
1) Decoding - this is where the focus is on children building their decoding skills through the consolidation of phonics. Children working at this stage will be regularly assessed to determine they are exposed to the correct level of book. Adult led groups follow a phonics approach to teaching and give children opportunities for GPC recall prior to independent reading. Comprehension is discussed orally at this stage through the use of carefully preplanned questioning by adults.
2) Developing Fluency - Historically, fluency has been an element of reading that has been forgotten. Thanks to an extensive period of research, we decided that developing fluency was in fact a vital component of reading and the missing link between strong decoders and strong readers who understand what they have read. Once children are secure in their decoding skills, teachers move in a stage where fluency and prosody is heavily modelled. Again, comprehension is woven into the learning through the use of cold comprehension tasks.
3) Developing Understanding - The final stage of guided reading at Bournville Primary School is developing understanding. This is where children's comprehension skills are built on through the use of carefully planned questions which cover a full range of reading skills. These skills include vocabulary, inference, sequencing, retrieval, explanation and prediction. The use of Question Level Analysis allows teachers to identify the specific gaps in children's learning and allows them plan skills accordingly. At this stage, written answers are also modelled and expected.
As a school we recognise that it is essential for all children to learn to read and we provide a range of interventions to ensure that no children are left behind. These include Reading Recovery, Bournville Reading Partners, Bournville Reading Partners Plus, additional guided reading pre-reads, Inference Training, Rapid books, book groups and 1;1 reading.
We aim to develop enthusiastic writers who can use their writing skills in a variety of contexts and for a range of purposes. This includes developing language and transcription skills but also we aim to ensure children feel ‘like a writer’ not just someone who can write.
Children are taught spellings in an interactive way through a variety of activities. They begin with learning to spell the ‘non-negotiable’ first spelling list alongside their phonics in reception and KS1. In KS2 children are taught spelling rules according to the programme devised by North Somerset and they receive three discrete spelling sessions a week.
The spellings and rules being taught are displayed clearly in the classrooms and are referred to by adults and children at the point of writing and during shared writing sessions. Feedback given by adults will included spellings and these will be corrected by the child using the resources in the classroom.
The teaching of handwriting skills starts in Nursery and Pre-school where activities are provided to develop the gross and fine motor skills needed later when writing letters begins. Mark making is highly valued and a wide range of tools and contexts encourages children to experiment with it.
In reception, children are taught to write in print formation. In KS1, and once secure in print, children begin to form letters using a precursive style before becoming fluent cursive writers. Those who need support in developing their motor skills are identified for interventions such as Dough Gym or Write Dance and there are also intervention groups across year groups giving focused support with letter formation.
Grammar is taught in KS1 and 2 during the teaching sequences for the different genres of writing. Once an aspect of grammar is taught it is then modelled through shared writing before being included in the success criteria or writing toolkit for use in independent writing. Any discrete teaching of grammar must be used in context through writing.
All writing in Bournville begins with reading. Whether a core book in EYFS or KS1 or ELAN high quality text in KS2 the children are immersed in the language of quality text as a starting point for their own writing. This text then provides hooks, or reasons to write as well as providing new vocabulary, language patterns or text structures which will be used in children’s own writing.
The children are taught to write in a variety of genres both fiction and non-fiction and these are taught using a clear progression through the year groups.
Within years 1 to 6 children will write each non-fiction genre at least once during the year which will then be applied in cross curricular work.
There are 6 basic pure genres:
- Non-chronological report
There are 7 basic narrative plots:
- Overcoming the monster
- Rags to riches
- The quest
- Voyage and return
Early Years and KS1 use Talk for Writing approach to teaching writing. This includes a focus on oral rehearsal of text using actions to reinforce the key language. Once children are able to imitate the text they move onto shared writing where the text is modelled and they innovate to make a new story with similar language patterns. Children will also work on short burst writing which aims to develop strong sentence level skills within the text type. Children are encouraged to invent stories through their play when they can make story maps and use role play to tell their own stories. Invention is also done through shared writing once a week where teachers model the writing process and use children’s ideas to develop class stories.
In KS2 the key features of a text type are constructed by the children through looking at model texts, real life examples of text and work on the text type from previous years. This then forms the success criteria for their own writing. Short burst writing and oral rehearsal of sentence structures is followed by shared writing. Once children have these tools they are ready to write independently, edit and improve and then publish their work.
Speech and Language:
We recognise that communication are crucial to future success for our children and the development of excellent speaking skills underpins our curriculum in all areas at Bournville. Vocabulary is explicitly taught through topic work and in guided and shared reading. Talk for Writing provides a structured platform to developing children’s speaking skills and we have developed a progression of storytelling language to be taught in EYFS and KS1
Opportunities for developing confidence and skills in communication are built into every lesson. At the end of each topic children share their learning and this is used to provide audience and purpose for speaking in increasingly formal contexts - from talking about art they have made, to becoming experts in an exhibition, to delivering motivational speeches to a hall full of people.
For further information about the curriculum at Bournville please contact the school.