At Christ the Sower Ecumenical Primary School, we have adopted a book-led approach across the curriculum. High quality texts are at the centre of our English provision and these stimulate learning across our curriculum by promoting engagement and encouraging children to be reflective thinkers and learners. Our school is rooted in a story from the bible: the Parable of the Sower. By providing the good earth that is our English teaching along with a curriculum that engages and nourishes children, we expect children to grow as readers and writers.
Through our Cultural Curriculum and teaching with CARE we equip children with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to:
- be empowered to make confident choices about the range of texts that they choose to read both for pleasure and information
- develop a love of reading by exploring and appreciating a wide range of authors, genres and text types
- reflect on what they have read by making comparisons and analysing the impact of texts in detail
- read fluently and with confidence and engage with others as a reader by discussing what they have read
- make considered and well thought out choices about their writing by adapting their language and style to suit a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
- appreciate the skill of an author by studying a range of example texts and using this as inspiration for their own writing
- reflect on the success of their own writing by making reasoned and considered changes to vocabulary, punctuation and grammar to enhance effect
- engage with their learning and others as a writer by taking pride in their writing and sharing it with others
Our curriculum is ambitious and coherently sequenced to provide all our learners, but particularly the disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. It is our intention that every child is able to access the curriculum and that every child is empowered to achieve and strive to reach their goals; this includes challenging our more able readers and writers.
English at Christ the Sower is comprised of the following elements:
Our approach to phonics at CtS
Phonics is taught daily in Early Years and Key Stage 1 following the Read Write Inc programme. Read Write Inc is a validated Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme that provides the structure and resources required to support children to develop their phonics skills. This ensures that we have in place effective phonics teaching and learning which is essential for high attainment both in reading and writing and across the wider curriculum.
The Read Write Inc. speed sounds lessons follow a careful progression, with sounds being introduced sequentially in a structured and systematic way. Children are grouped in small focus groups linked to the phase of development that they are at. Groups are fluid and teachers’ day-to-day assessment informs any change to provision. Each half-term, every child’s phonic skills and knowledge is assessed to inform teaching groups for the following half-term to ensure that children are challenged appropriately and that anyone falling behind is identified quickly.
For any child at risk of falling behind, catch up interventions are quickly put into place to address the barrier to phonics learning. These include: precision teaching; recapping and revisiting sounds already taught; and home school links.
Our approach to reading
Across the whole school there is a rich, literate environment where high quality texts are explored and discovered at every opportunity: reading is always seen as an activity which brings pleasure and often has a purpose. In each year group reading and the enjoyment of texts is explored in a range of different ways:
- Independent Reading: This is dedicated, and focused time provided for children to read and enjoy a book of their choosing solely for pleasure. During this time, teachers are encouraged to model being a good reader and enjoy a book of their own. Children and teachers may share the books they are reading and give opinions about what has been read.
- Shared Reading: This is dedicated time for a teacher to share a story with their class purely for enjoyment. Teachers read aloud to children and model how to read clearly and with expression.
- Guided Reading: This is a whole class reading session where the teacher shares a text with the class which is slightly above the expectations for the age group and therefore presents an appropriate challenge. The adults and/or children share the text together and verbally discuss what has been read using the domains of reading to lead the conversation.
- Reading Comprehension: This a whole class reading session which looks at teaching the skills required to tackle formal reading comprehension. Children will explore how to read and understand different comprehension questions linked to the domains of reading and how to construct written responses to demonstrate their understanding of the text. During these sessions, strategies to support children’s comprehension are explicitly taught and modelled.
In each year group, children will be exposed to a range of the different types of reading listed above with the balance and focus towards each area of reading shifting as appropriate for the age group. There is a strong focus during all reading sessions (and other areas of the curriculum) on developing children’s vocabulary through exploration and discussion of texts.
In addition to the opportunities for reading detailed, above, reading is at the heart of each English unit with writing being linked to high-quality core texts. This enables children to see reading as an integral part of developing their skills as a writer.
All classes have a weekly library slot where children are encouraged to borrow a wide range of texts to read for pleasure. Each classroom also has a class lending library which children are able to borrow books from. Our in school libraries are supplemented each term by the Schools Library Service who provide a “topic box” to ensure each class has a wide range of up to date and high quality texts to support their learning.
In EYFS and KS1 we use a range of phonetically decodable books in line with our phonics programme. Children have a phonetically decodable reading book to take home and read that is in line with their phonics teaching that week; we call this our “I read” book. In addition, every child has a ‘reading’ book from our more traditional reading scheme (we read) and a book of their own choosing to enjoy.
In KS2, children receive appropriate adult support to select a reading book from either the class or school library. Teachers encourage children to select appropriately challenging books and to read from a wide range of genres and authors. Children with additional needs or those who are working below the expected level for their age are supported using reading books as appropriate for their age and ability.
Our approach to Writing
Our writing curriculum has its foundations around four main writing purposes:
- to entertain
- to inform
- to persuade
- to discuss
Each English unit is anchored in a core text, and this is used to inspire and engage children with their writing. Over time, the writing purposes are revisited across and within each year group to provide children with the opportunity to develop and secure their writing skills. This progression is detailed on our Curriculum Overview and our Growth in Knowledge – Writing document.
Each unit of work is further developed in the termly implementations plans for each year group. This ensures that the following is identified clearly to support focus and progression in learning:
- The big picture, purpose and audience for writing
- The text leading learning
- The journey to success for the unit
- The reading and writing focus for teaching in this unit
- Application later on in the year, in other subjects, to ensure opportunities to make cross curricular links and use of writing skills in other areas
In order to equip our children with the knowledge and ability to be a skilled and confident writer we:
- Use model texts as part of our teaching sequence to best exemplify the writing skills and knowledge focus listed on each unit journey to success. This clearly shows children what excellent examples look like and gives them a clear goal.
- Identify and display the big picture of the unit in the classroom. This is also articulated in every writing lesson to ensure children are clear on the expected outcome for the unit.
- A unit journey to success is created and adapted for each English unit to clearly communicate with children the skills they need to demonstrate in their writing to be successful in achieving the intended outcome. This is also used to provide positive and constructive feedback.
- Use of working walls to map the journey of writing and provide a resource point for children as writers.
We follow a writing process from pre-write to publish and make full use of the drafting process which includes the use of purple pens to edit to improve work.
Once a writing unit has been taught, it is revisited or the skills taught are utilised in another subject as outlined in the termly implementation plan. This provides children with further opportunities to make cross-curricular links and consolidate their learning.
Spellings are taught explicitly in each class on a weekly basis. In KS1 spellings are linked to the children’s phonics learning and National Curriculum statements. In KS2 spellings are linked to specific spelling statements as outlined in the National Curriculum. Children are expected to learn ten spellings each week which are linked to a spelling rule and they are encouraged to use these in their writing.
In addition to this, children in KS2 are expected to learn five additional spellings words linked to another area of their learning; this is an opportunity for children to develop and expand their vocabulary.
Each year group has at least one handwriting session each week to promote legible and appropriate joining. In EYFS and KS1, additional handwriting sessions and free play opportunities are provided in order to allow opportunities for children to develop their fine motor and handwriting skills.
In Year Four, children receive their pen licence to allow them to further develop their presentational and handwriting skills. In Year Six, children begin to explore writing with their own style using the knowledge they have acquired about letter sizing and joins.
Each year group completes one dictation session a week which provides children with the opportunity to put into practise their knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar in a “real world” application.
Dictation also promotes and provides an opportunity for children to develop their skills in segmenting and transcription.
Expert Teaching Team
We ensure that all staff at Christ the Sower Ecumenical Primary School have expert knowledge in English. We do this through:
- Internal professional development led by English and Phonics Leads
- External professional development through the academy trust and other external bodies
- English leadership and networking meetings with other schools (both locally and within our trust)
- Staff meetings where good practice is shared
- Planning with teaching teams
- Team teaching
All children take part in English lessons and teachers plan lessons so that all pupils are included and make progress within the lesson.
Work and questioning within the lesson is appropriately differentiated to support the needs of individual children to ensure they are able to access the learning and have success.
Additional resources are provided to support children with their learning as appropriate. For example differentiated texts, word mats and writing frames and prompts. Technology such as Clicker or word processing programmes are also used to ensure all children can demonstrate their writing ability.
During classroom teaching, discreet help may be provided by support staff or the class teacher as appropriate. During activities, children may also be supported by an adult or peer to enable them to access the work hand have success.
It may be necessary for some children to take part in intervention sessions outside the normal English lesson. These are operated in accordance with the class teacher, English lead and SENDCo. The impact of the intervention is measured by class teachers and monitored by SLT.
In KS1, children are expected to read on a daily basis and practise their spellings. Reading books are changed regularly and in line with children’s phonics teaching.
In KS2, children are expected to read on a daily basis, practise their spellings and complete online home learnings task on our electronic home-learning platform (Reading Eggs).
These tasks provide children with an opportunity to further develop and consolidate the reading and writing skills they are exposed to as part of their learning.
Assessment for Phonics
Phonics assessments take place half-termly using the Read Write inc programme and groups are reformed based on learning secured and next steps. In addition to these formal assessment periods teacher also monitor children’s individual performance within their phonics groups and make changes as appropriate.
Assessment for Reading
Teachers conduct formative assessments of children’s reading ability in class reading sessions and during lessons. Summative assessments for reading take place termly in October, February and May. Children are assessed using NFER Reading papers and SATs papers as appropriate for their year group.
In addition, to this PM Benchmarking and the Hertfordshire Reading Age test are used to assess children’s reading age where appropriate.
Assessment for Writing
Teachers conduct formative assessment of children’s knowledge and understanding and adapt their teaching sequence as appropriate. In addition to this, teachers assess children against key objectives to show how well they have understood key concepts relating to writing. These statements are listed on Target Tracker and our growth documents.
Each half term, teachers conduct a summative assessment and assess children against the objectives as expected for their age and make a judgement. This assessment is based on a number of factors: children’s performance in a half termly whole school write; work completed as part of English units; individual cold and final writes; and statements highlighted on Target Tracker.
We monitor the impact of provision in English through:
- Learning walks
- Book reviews
- Planning reviews
- Pupil Voice
- Staff feedback
In addition, there is a termly review of whole-school data, which has been validated through rigorous internal and external moderation and focuses on the progress and attainment of identified pupil groups. The SLT and English lead, review this information and this informs discussions and decisions around provision for all learners in English.