ENGLISH: At Freshfield, we bring these aims to life by putting literacy skills at
the heart of our curriculum
“When I read great literature, great drama, speeches or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.” James Earl Jones
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. At Freshfield, we bring these aims to life by putting literacy skills at the heart of our curriculum. We want our children to become fluent speakers, avid readers and confident writers. Our children are empowered by a high-quality English curriculum that teaches our children to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
How do we teach reading?
Once the children have secured their phonic skills and have learned to read independently, they progress onto our whole class reading curriculum. From Year 3 to Year 6, each class has Reading Spines of carefully chosen quality texts linked to that year groups curriculum. Texts are used to stimulate thought and language and extend knowledge acquired through other subjects such as science and the humanities. This selection includes a range of fiction, non-fiction, videos and songs and poetry. As well as broadening their knowledge, this allows children to make links in their learning, support child-led enquiry and embed high-level comprehension skills whilst building greater independence. The resources used to teach reading are carefully matched to the curriculum and to the needs of the readers ensuring a breath of genres and topics are covered.
Having engaging and challenging core texts is one of the ways we encourage our pupils to develop a love of literature and to read for enjoyment. Evidence from research shows that ensuring our children develop all the skills of language is essential to unlocking access to the rest of the curriculum. Therefore, opportunities to read and write are embedded across the curriculum. This approach also expands our children’s knowledge of the world in which we live. When children encounter words in their reading that they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech, we can systematically teach our children new vocabulary. Therefore, rich and lively vocabulary instruction is an essential component of all our reading lessons. We know that by explicitly teaching vocabulary, we will encourage children to become interested and enthusiastic about words, keen to explore relationships among words and use them in a way that they come to ‘own’ the words.
Our approach focuses on further developing the pupils’ competencies and confidence in word reading and comprehension. Building on their early reading learning, we continue to teach our children to decode unfamiliar words and increase the number of words they can read on sight. Throughout Key stage 2, increased emphasis is placed upon developing each child’s reading skills – their ability to understand vocabulary, infer, predict, explain, retrieve and summarise.
Our home reading books are organised according to reading ability and interest level as identified through the Accelerated Reader Programme. Through both scheme books and ‘real’ (non-scheme) books, children are taught key comprehension skills using the VIPERS approach:
Children are assessed regularly through quizzing and move onto the next book when their fluency and comprehension show that they are ready. More information can be found here
Book Study Spine
Our Freshfield Book Study Spine comprises a carefully-selected collection of set texts which we commit to reading aloud to children in each year group. We believe that all children have an entitlement to hearing adults read engaging and challenging texts – often beyond the reach of independent reading for children in that year group. We have selected texts that are representative and diverse in both their characters and their author backgrounds so that the books can act as both a mirror in which the children see themselves reflected and a window to the wider world. Our selection of texts is regularly reviewed to ensure our offer reflects the very best of current children’s literature.
Please click here for a book list by year group.
Our writing curriculum helps develop children’s competencies in two key areas- transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). Carefully planned, regular writing opportunities are planned for using class texts or cross-curricular learning as an engaging stimulus. Each week our children write at length for a range of real purposes and audiences. The children are taught how to plan their writing by exploring and collecting ideas, drafting and re-reading their writing as it flows. Within these skills at the heart of developing our writers, we follow a cycle of reading to writing:
The individual writing roadmaps which show the high-quality texts and stimulus for writing used, along with the writing outcomes for each unit for Years 1 to 6 can be found here.
The teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar is embedded within reading and writing lessons so that children learn these skills and use them in context. Explicit knowledge of grammar and punctuation is important to enable the pupils to have a more conscious control and choice of their language. Once the pupils are familiar with a grammatical concept or punctuation markings, our teachers encourage them to apply and explore this concept in their own speech and writing. Children complete a daily SPAG fluency challenge to recap and revise previous learning and also weekly SPAG check which allows teachers to assess and monitor each child’s progress closely. We recognise that learning to spell can be tricky. In Key Stage 1, spelling is a focus of Phonics, which is taught using the SoundsWrite programme. In Key Stage 2, children use and apply the skills learned in SoundsWrite to follow the Spelling Shed Spelling programme. The children in Key Stage 2 continue with daily spelling sessions. Following on from SoundsWrite the children word build and analyse polysyllabic words and practise through a weekly dictation. Each week the pupils have a set of spellings to revise and practise at home. These spellings are linked to the spelling focus taught that week.
As a school, we know handwriting is a skill which affects written communication across the curriculum. Children must be able to write with ease, speed and legibility. Cursive handwriting teaches pupils to join letters and words as a series of flowing movements and patterns. In the Early Years, children take part in activities that develop their fine and gross motor skills and recognition of patterns, for example using one handed tools and developing a comfortable grip when making pre-writing marks. As children develop their fine motor skills, they begin to learn how to correctly hold a pencil. In Reception, they will begin to form recognisable letters most of which are correctly formed. They are given opportunities to develop their handwriting using a pre-cursive style, to their full potential at that age. Handwriting is taught in a multi-sensory way and as part of phonics sessions. If the children are ready, they will begin to join digraphs in the summer term.
In Key Stage One, children continue to develop their fine and gross motor skills and handwriting is linked with phonics sessions. The children begin to join digraphs and tricky words. They are taught upper- and lower-case letters correctly and use a comfortable and effective pencil grip. By the end of the key stage, children are able to write legibly, using a cursive style.
Please see our Handwriting policy which can be found here.
Poetry at Freshfield
Being a poetry friendly school means developing an environment and an ethos where children have the opportunity to listen to, share and see a range of poems in a range of circumstances. Exposing children to poetry regularly in formal and informal ways helps them to develop an appreciation of many kinds of writers and forms. Enjoying, reading and hearing poetry regularly and writing poetry develops a shared culture and an acceptance that poetry is important. We ensure poetry of all kinds is a prominent part of the reading environment as poetry is many children’s route into reading. Its rhythms and patterns introduce children to a range of reading skills. Children naturally pick up rhymes and rhythms, they want to join in, they enjoy the experience – and a rich experience of hearing and learning poems is a fantastic way of learning how language works. Wordplay is one of the most basic pleasures of poetry, giving the opportunity for playing games with language so that the shapes, sounds, and rhythms of words are enjoyed as well as their meaning.
Each year group has been assigned three poetry units to teach as a writing unit in English throughout the academic year. Each year group has also been allocated three types of poetry to study, explore, comment on, learn off by heart and perform throughout the year. Please click here for the detailed list.
Please click here for more detailed information about Poetry learning in each year group.