The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum supports children’s understanding of English through the planning and teaching of communication and language, literacy development, personal, social and emotional development. This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside trips, visits and visitors.
At John Blow Primary School, English and the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum. Our main aim is to ensure every single child becomes primary literate and progresses in the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening. English is being able to speak, read and write fluently so we can communicate ideas, gain knowledge and articulate emotions to others effectively.
English at John Blow is taught daily and is at the cornerstone of the entire curriculum; it is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of objectives are met, the children at John Blow will experience an integrated approach to learning which is a language based, creative and continuous English curriculum where reading and writing are intrinsically linked. This will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
At John Blow, our vision is for creativity to be at the helm of our English curriculum and for children to learn new skills in a fun and engaging way.
Our whole curriculum is shaped by our school vision which aims to enable all children, regardless of background, ability or additional needs, to flourish and become the very best version of themselves they can possibly be.
We teach the National Curriculum, supported by a clear objectives and knowledge progression. This ensures that vocabulary, objectives, skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all children.
At John Blow Primary School:
• English units are blocked to allow children to focus on developing their knowledge and skills, studying each unit in depth.
• We have developed a progression of objectives, with each year group, which enables pupils to build on and develop their skills each year. This is supported with specific vocabulary and objectives for each topic.
• In order to support children in their ability to know more and remember more, there are regular opportunities to review the learning that has taken place in previous year groups as well as previous lessons.
• To support teaching, staff access a range of resources and planning including Rainbow Grammar, Literacy Shed Plus, Plan Bee, Grammarsaurus, Phonics Shed and Spelling Shed.
• Medium term planning for units will cover: previous learning and objectives; links to Close Reading and Comprehension opportunities; opportunities for ‘real’ writing; speaking and listening opportunities, including drama and links to visual literacy. Medium term planning will also highlight links with the National Curriculum.
• We plan for effective use of educational visits and visitors, to enrich and enhance the pupil’s learning experience and the English curriculum.
• Teachers use highly effective Assessment for Learning at different points in each lesson to ensure misconceptions are highlighted and addressed.
• Effective modelling by teachers ensures that children are able to achieve their learning intentions, with misconceptions addressed within it.
• Through using a range of assessment tools, differentiation is facilitated by teachers, to ensure that each pupil can access the English curriculum.
• Pupils are regularly given the opportunity for self or peer assessment, which will then be used to inform planning, preparation, differentiation and address misconceptions within that lesson, or for the next lesson.
• Cross-curricular links are planned for.
• Our Assessment Tracker (EAZMAG) allows us to use data to inform future practice. This is supported by whole school ‘First of the month’ writing opportunities and participating in ‘No more marking’ comparative writes across KS1 and KS2.
We have a full systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) scheme validated by the DfE. The scheme is a narrative driven programme, creating a meaningful and interactive experience for pupils. They become familiar our characters from the Phonics Shed garden as they progress through the scheme. We place great importance on speaking and listening in our Early Years and we teach different aspects and levels of phonological awareness in our EYFS provision. We focus on sound discrimination, rhythm, rhyme, oral blending and segmenting, sound talk and enhancing our children’s vocabulary.
We follow a text-based learning approach during English lessons. Core Texts have been chosen for each year group, but there is scope for change if necessary. A wide range of effective questioning will be used during class discussions to challenge, probe and extend children’s understanding and learning. We analyse the text either responding in writing or completing some explicit vocabulary teaching using words from the text (close reading). Teachers model writing objectives during whole class teaching and guided writing sessions will be used to meet specific objectives for individuals or groups. Opportunities are provided to reflect and edit their work whilst drafting. In years 1 – 6 teaching will take place as a daily lesson, with opportunities for cross curricular links planned in throughout the day where appropriate. Foundation Stage elements may be taught throughout the day. High standards and general English subject knowledge will be reinforced continually across all subjects. Please refer to our ‘Reading at John Blow’ document for further details.
All children in EYFS are taught to hold a pencil correctly and form all letters correctly. From year 2, children are expected to join up their writing. All staff model handwriting when they write for any purpose within the classroom. All children should be expected to write in this style of handwriting whenever they write, in all subjects. Handwriting is taught explicitly alongside our continual expectation of be the best you can be in all presentation.
Writing including Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
In line with the new national curriculum, we ensure that each year group is teaching the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for that age group. As well as teaching the objectives, teachers are able to embed the skills throughout the year in cross-curricular writing opportunities. Teachers aim for all children to achieve the objectives at the expected level and that some children can achieve at a greater depth standard. Teachers assess against our set framework. Rainbow Grammar is taught across the school to make explicit links between grammar and writing. All year groups use the same format for assessing writing, reading and GPS which are in line with the end of Key Stage assessment frameworks as published by the Department for Education. We record our assessments and track progress on our EAZMAG system.
In order to expose children to a variety of genres, which helps to utilise and embed the writing skills, teachers use a variety of recommended texts to plan, structure and teach their English lessons. This plan is designed to show progress, teach the year group objectives, apply and consolidate these skills and develop vocabulary. Writing is taught through the use of a quality text, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation. Each text is purposefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child.
Spellings are to be taught in separate spelling sessions but also continuously throughout the school day. All children are to be taught their year group word list, whilst also revising previous year’s lists, and their year group spelling patterns. We have additional intervention for children where extra support is required throughout KS1 and 2 (e.g. those children who did not pass the Year One phonics screening test or the resit in Year 2).
Speaking and Listening
By the time our pupils leave John Blow, we aim for our children to be confident, fluent speakers, who are able to use a wide range of adventurous and ambitious vocabulary in the correct context. We aim for our pupils to give well-structured descriptions, explanations, presentations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings. They will maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments with confidence. They will be able to consider and evaluate different viewpoints, adding their own interpretations and building on the contributions of others.
We aim for our pupils to become good listeners who can follow instructions and ask and answer sensible questions in all lessons.
Sustained learning and transferrable English skills. We aim that by the end of KS2 all of our children have made considerable progress from their starting points in EYFS. With the implementation of the writing journey (including mastering of the Phonic Code) being well established and taught thoroughly, our children are more confident writers. By the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, all genres of writing are familiar to them, and teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. Our children also become more confident, fluent readers and they realise the importance of reading for pleasure along with reading for information and knowledge.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross-curricular writing standards are improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills, progression, and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity and passion for English travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is the systematic approach of teaching early reading and writing by matching the sounds of spoken English with the letters which represent them.
At John Blow Primary School, we recognise reading as a key life skill, which underpins access to the rest of the curriculum. We aim for children to become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One and develop a lifelong love of reading as they move through school. The systematic teaching of synthetic phonics is given a high priority throughout Early Years and Key Stage One. Children need to learn key phonic knowledge and develop skills in segmenting and blending to complete the phonics screening check at the end of Year One, and as part of developing automaticity and fluency in reading. We also value and encourage children to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills – enjoying success and gaining confidence from a positive experience.
We use the Department for Education approved scheme ‘Phonics Shed’ to support our delivery of phonics. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be consistent and progressive from Reception up to Year Two. In Reception, children begin by accessing Chapter 1 which concentrates on developing their speaking and listening skills. They then develop their listening skills and are introduced to Chapter 2 which marks the start of systematic phonics work. They have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they revise previous learning, are taught new graphemes/phonemes, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Through ‘Phonics Shed’, children are taught the 44 phonemes that are required for reading and spelling. Children work through the different chapters and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound.
Extra support is provided to those in Year 2 (and Year 3 where appropriate) who have not passed the phonics screening check in Year One and interventions are planned for those children who are working below the expected standard.
Children have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure they are regularly practising and applying their phonic knowledge. This includes extra support for children who need it, including one-to-one reading, to help them to make accelerated progress.
Teachers regularly assess children’s phonic knowledge, which informs planning and allows them identify any gaps in learning, which can then be addressed through specific intervention. Children have phonetically decodable books matched to their phonic knowledge which they are encouraged to read regularly at home to ensure fluency in reading is developed. Books are carefully chosen from a range of reading schemes to match the interests of our children, and to mirror our topics in school to encourage engagement.
As a result of high quality phonics provision, children make good progress from their starting points. The vast majority are ready for the next stage in their education as they transfer through Early Years, Key Stage One and into Key Stage Two.
Children enjoy listening to adults read and develop a love of reading, gaining satisfaction from their growing success in developing independence and fluency.
Our results from the phonics screening check is at least in line with national expectation, if not higher. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our phonics and reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments and can be seen in success across the curriculum as children progress through school.