English Policy

Revision History

Version Date Comments  Review Date
1 September 2005 First draft
2 November 2005 Approved and issued November 2006
3 November 2006 Approve and issued November 2007
4 December 2007 Amended, approved and issued November 2009
5 November 2009 Amended, approved and issued Autumn 2011
6 November 2011 Amended, approved and issued Autumn 2013
  1. Rationale

The study of English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, so using language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.

  1. Aims/Objectives

2.1 The aims of English:

  • to enable children to speak clearly and audibly in ways which take account of their listeners; to encourage children to listen with concentration in order to be able to identify the main points of what they have heard;
  • to enable children to adapt their speech to a wide range of circumstances and demands;
  • to develop children’s abilities to reflect on their own and others contributions and the language used;
  • to enable children to evaluate their own and others contributions through a range of drama activities;
  • to develop confident, independent readers through an appropriate focus on work, sentence and text-level knowledge;
  • to encourage children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers through contact with challenging and lengthy texts;
  • to help children enjoy writing and recognise its value;
  • to enable children to write with accuracy and meaning in narrative and non-fiction;
  • to increase the children’s ability to use planning, drafting and editing to improve their work.
  1. Inclusion

3.1 At St John’s we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in English lessons as recommended by the Primary Framework for Literacy including whole class shared reading or writing, activities, guided group or independent activities and time to review progress and learning through self assessment (WILF), peer assessment (SWANS) and pupil progress interviews. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills and understanding in English. They have the opportunity to experience a wide range of texts and use a range of resources such as dictionaries and thesauruses. Children use ICT in English lessons where it enhances their learning, as in drafting their work and using multimedia to study how words and images are combined to convey meaning. Wherever possible we encourage children to use and apply their learning in other areas of the curriculum.

3.2 There are children of differing ability in all classes at St John’s. We recognise this fact and provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies. In some lessons we do it through differentiated group work, while in other lessons we ask children to work from the same starting point before moving on to develop their own ideas. We use classroom assistants to support some children and to enable work to be matched to the needs of individuals.

3.3 Teachers provide learning opportunities matched to the needs of children with learning difficulties. Work in English takes into account the targets set for individual children in their Pupil Passport. Teachers provide help with communication and literacy through:

  • using texts that children can read and understand:
  • using visual and written materials in different formats
  • using ICT, other technological aids and taped materials;
  • using alternative communication such as signs and symbols;
  1. Equality of Opportunity

The school recognises that all classes have children with different ability. A variety of teaching styles group strategies are used to develop all children.

  1. Planning

5.1 English is a core subject in the National Curriculum. We use the Renewed Framework for Literacy as the basis for implementing the statutory requirements of the programme of study for English.

5.2 It is the policy at St John’s to deliver writing objectives as set out in the renewed framework for Literacy. Each year group covers a balance of narrative, non-fiction and poetry throughout the year. The narrative units are taught in the order that they are presented in the framework as there is a progression of skills built into these units. The non-fiction and poetry units can be taught at any point throughout the year, although there is an expectation that a range of genres be covered each term. In addition to the units laid out in the renewed framework, additional units have been included in some year groups so as to ensure a wide range of genres are covered throughout the school (see appendices a and b). The action was a direct result of monitoring which found that certain genres were not covered until upper key stage two. Where these additional units have been included, staff are directed towards the Literacy World scheme of work for KS2 which provides a teaching sequence and suitable resources. At KS1 staff are asked to devise their own unit to cover the objectives. Please see attached grid for details of units to be taught in each year group (Appendix a). Staf are also asked to ensure they use the Progression papers from the renewed framework. These set out what the different expectations are within each year group with regard to different genres and ensure that ‘instructions’ for example do not look the same at Y5 as they do in Y2. These can be found in the literacy department folder in shared documents or on the Literacy framework site.

5.3 At St John’s our children need writing opportunities and as a result we have reorganised the units to be covered to ensure that all our pupils have opportunity to write for different audiences and purposes across all year groups. All units of work should result in at least one complete and extended piece of written work which is built up over time. Pupils should be taught using the basic teaching sequence which moves from reading quality example texts; into identifying the features, and then into modelled, shared and then independent writing (see appendix f). There is clearly a need for the skills for writing to be taught alongside the genres although these skills should then be applied to the genre being taught. The written outcomes should be supported by quality talk time, drama and other activities in order that pupils have the good quality talk time, drama and other activities in order that pupils have the good quality experiences to act as a stimulus for writing. Staff should, however, feel confident in choosing the activities from the renewed framework that will be most effective in achieving the outcomes and should not feel pressured into trying to cover everything that is suggested. It is quality that counts, not quantity.

5.4 Staff are expected to provide a long term plan at the start of every year which outlines the order in which units are covered (see attached pro-forma appendix e). This can be used by the subject leader when monitoring. Staff are expected to make literacy links to the Creative Curriculum and these can be found on our topic maps.

5.5 Each unit or work should be planned in detail every week, with daily objectives (WALT) being taken from the overall unit objectives. The school has an agreed planning document for Literacy which all staff are expected to use. Planning should show evidence of a range of activities and teaching approaches including; paired, group and individual working, teacher modelling, scribing, shared writing, guided writing, use of scaffold and writing prompts. There should also be clear evidence in planning of pupils being given opportunity to generate success criteria for their writing and then having the opportunity to self and peer assess against those criteria.

5.6 We teach English in reception classes as an integral part of the schools work. The format for the daily lesson is similar to that used in the rest of the school. As the reception class is part of the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum, we relate the English aspects of the children’s work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five. We give all children the opportunity to talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, to respond to adults and to each other, to listen carefully, and to practise and extend their range of vocabulary and communication skills. They have the opportunity to explore, enjoy, learn about, and use words and text in a range of situations.

  1. Reading

6.1 Throughout the school, pupils are encouraged to read aloud regularly to an adult. In Nursery & Reception pupils begin with picture books. Pupils would move onto books with words when almost secure at Phase 2, prediction is fully developed and only after discussion with parents/carers.   This includes guiding reading, WALT’s, teacher’s comments and spelling or phonics booklets. As pupils begin to develop their reading, they are given books at an appropriate level which will allow them to practise and refine their skills. As they move to become fluent and established readers, pupils are encouraged to select their own choice of reading material. In both cases, the reading material is monitored by the class teaching assistant.

6.2 At St John’s we encourage pupils to read their reading book at home with an adult on a regular basis. Every child is given a reading diary in which all reading with an adult can be recorded, both in and out of school. Pupils are expected to have their reading book and diary in school every day. The use of reading-book bags are encouraged throughout the school as they ensure books are kept safe.

6.3 As pupils complete a book, the class teacher or teaching assistant is responsible for assessing which level of book is appropriate to move onto. At KS1, or where reading books included limited text, books will be changed at least 3 times a week as appropriate.

6.4 At ST John’s reading is taught mainly through 25 minute lessons of guided reading which takes place every morning. These lessons provide pupils with the opportunity to be taught the skills of reading in small groups which are led by the teacher or teaching assistant. All pupils will be involved in at least one guided reading lesson per week.

During guided reading lessons, pupils are given the opportunity to read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts from different genres at levels that are appropriate. They also have the opportunity to develop their key skills such as comprehension and spelling. Each classroom has a timetable of Guided Reading activities displayed.

  1. The Big Write

7.1 In order to encourage our pupils to apply their learning and to reinforce the teaching, pupils are asked to complete a ‘Big Write’ task at least once every two weeks (more in Y6). The following is guidance on how that should be done:

  • Pupils should be asked to independently write in a genre that has been previously taught so that skills and learning are being reinforced.
  • The Big Write could be linked to other work being done e.g. a Literacy outcome from the unit or a link to another subject e.g. a diary from a historical character.
  • Pupils need quality ‘talk-time’ before being asked to write. This will be used to generate ideas, to reinforce and revisit the teaching points from that genre, to look back at previous work and at targets set last time etc. If pupils can’t talk it through – they can’t write it!
  • A mixture of genres should be covered over longer (35-40 mins) and shorter (20 mins) sessions – especially in upper KS2.
  • Written outcomes should be in Literacy books and should be marked and levelled by the class teacher and targets will be set. Pupil interviews may also be used. Targets should be taken from the level descriptors and should support a child in moving forward to the next sub-level. Marking should also refer back to targets previously set. These are then written on yellow target sheets which pupils should have access to in all subjects. The APP for writing is put in with the yellow target sheets, pupils should know their targets.
  • WALT and WILF should be included and pupils should be given opportunity to self assess against the WILF criteria.
  • SWANS assessment (peer assessment) may also be used with upper KS1 * KS2 pupils.
  1. Spelling

8.1 At St John’s Primary, we believe in the principle that spelling and phonics should be taught explicitly if our pupils are to become confident and independent spellers. With this in mind, we have spelling/phonics lessons timetabled and planned for.

8.2 Early Years & KS1

The classes in the Foundation stage and KS1 follow the CLLD programme for their phonics lessons. These sessions are made up of daily 15-20 minute sessions in the morning.

Pupils in Key Stage One receive phonics homework every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, which supports and consolidates the objective for that week. These phonics booklets link to the Phase that they are working at. Phonics is planned for separately.

8.3 Key Stage Two

At KS2 the staff are expected to teach spelling of rules, patterns and tricky/unusual words every week in at least three timetabled sessions. It is accepted that SEN pupils are having their daily input of spelling through SOS etc and so may be exempt from other spelling sessions. However if appropriate, they can join in and have words at an appropriate level.

In the whole class taught sessions pupils follow the spelling programme as laid out in the ‘Support for Spelling document. This provides spelling objectives for each year group together with the spelling rules and families to learn. This document also provides details of possible activities / investigations to do with the class.   Whilst this document will provide guidance for the majority of pupils, it is accepted that some pupils will need objectives from previous years as appropriate with their ability.

Pupils in Key Stage Two receive spelling homework every week which supports and consolidates the objective for that week. This is in the form of a spelling booklet.

Independent spelling activities which fit in with the weeks spelling / phonics objectives can be completed, as appropriate, during guided reading time.

Pupils in KS2 are encouraged to be independent in their spelling. To this end, classes are equipped with dictionaries for the pupils to use. It is policy for pupils to have a go at the spelling and check it with a dictionary or other suitable support material e.g. work banks etc before asking for adult help. Pupils are also encouraged to check their work for spelling errors before it is handed in for marking. Errors in the pupils work should be neatly crossed out (or erased) and the correct spelling written above. Spelling errors as picked up in marking should be identified with the symbol ‘sp’ in the margin and the word underlined. Up to three spellings per piece of work are corrected which pupils can use for future reference.

  1. Handwriting

9.1 At St John’s Primary, we believe in the principle that handwriting should be taught regularly and consistently throughout the school, if our pupils are to develop fluent, legible handwriting.

9.2 The school teaches pupils using the Nelson Handwriting Scheme.

9.3 The teaching of handwriting should consist of teacher modelling and explaining, pupils practising individual aspects under teacher instruction and independent practising. These activities can be done with the whole class together or parts may be better achieved with smaller groups particularly KS1, Foundation Stage and SEN pupils. The taught sessions could be part of the Literacy lesson or more likely, it will be done outside of the Literacy lesson for short sessions throughout the week.

9.4 Independent handwriting practise could be easily fitted into the guided reading time as an activity for your independent children (for KS2 pupils only).

9.5 Early Years & KS1 should teach children to start each letter from the line. Children are taught to recognise letters with entrance and exit flicks in the classroom and on display. Children should be encouraged to write neatly at all times but younger children are not discouraged if entrance flicks are not used.

9.6 Most Y2 children should be joining at the end of Y2.

9.7 Staff should also model joined or neat handwriting in the classroom and when marking.

  1. Contribution of English to teaching in other curriculum areas.

10.1 Literacy opportunities are planned for within the Creative Curriculum (see creative curriculum topic plan).

10.2 Mathematics

English contributes significantly to the teaching of mathematics in our school. Children in the Foundation Stage develop their understanding of number, pattern, shape and space by talking about these areas with adults and other children. Children in Key Stage 1 meet stories and rhymes that rely on counting and sequencing. Children in Key Stage 2 are encouraged to read and interpret problems in order to identify the mathematics involved. They explain and present their work to others during plenary sessions and they communicate mathematically through the developing use of precise mathematical language.

10.3 Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The use of ICT enables children to use and apply their developing skills in English in a variety of ways. Younger children use ICT as a source of information and as a way of enabling them to present their completed work effectively, or records.. Older children use the Internet when searching for information about a different part of the world, or when using desktop publishing to design a class newspaper. Children use the planning and proofing tools in a word processor when checking their draft work. Pupils are taught how to use ICT to create multimedia presentations of their work e.g. Microsoft Powerpoint, Movie Maker and Comic Life. Across the school, with the implementations of the New Primary Framework, there is an increasing focus on visual Literacy to engage pupils, especially in the early phases of each taught unit. The use of the ICT suite and the IWB for these sessions is developing across the school. We encourage all children to use ICT as a resource for learning, whenever they feel it is appropriate. Talking tins, Flip cameras, easi speak microphone and recordable storybooks are also used for talking the text in preparation for writing.

10.4 Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship

English contributes to the teaching of personal, social and health education and citizenship. We encourage younger children to take part in class and group discussions on topical issues. In their science work they talk about things that improve their health and about rules for keeping them safe around the school. Older children research and debate topical problems and events. They discuss lifestyle choices and meet and talk with many visitors who work within the school community. Planned activities within the classroom encourage children to work together and respect each others views.

10.5 Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

The teaching of English develops skills through which our children can give critical responses to the moral questions they meet in their work. Their understanding and appreciation of a range of texts brings them into contact with their own literacy heritage and texts from other cultures. The organisation of lessons allows children to work together and gives them the chance to discuss their ideas and results.

  1. Assessment and Recording

11.1 Teachers assess children’s work in English in three phases. The short-term assessments that teachers make as part of every lesson help teachers to adjust their daily plans. Teachers match these short-term assessments closely to the teaching objectives. Teachers gather evidence of attainment in writing throughout the term using the APP writing assessment tool. For reading, teachers maintain an on-going assessment sheet for at least 3 pupils during the guided reading slot. These judgements are highlighted and dated on the sheets. Teachers use these assessments to inform future planning for each of the guided reading groups. Teachers finalise these on-going assessments in reading and writing towards the end of each term. These assessments are recorded using the schools own tracking system ‘DCPro’ and are used to assess progress against school and national targets. With the help of these long-term assessments, teachers are able to set targets for the next term or the next school year and summarize the progress of each child before discussing it with the child’s parents. The next teacher also uses these long-term assessments as the basis for planning work for the new school year. These long-term assessments are made using teacher assessments, judged against the reading and writing levelling tools. Children undertake the national tests at the end of Year 2 and Year 6.

  1. Resources

12.1 There is a range of resources to support the teaching of English across the school. A large selection of fiction and non-fiction texts and big books are stored centrally for all teachers to access to support their teaching. Every classroom also has a selection of reading books for the pupils to read independently. Children have access to the Internet through their classroom computer and ICT suite. Access to the Internet is also available in the library area. The library contains a range of books to support children’s individual research.

  1. Monitoring and Review

13.1 Monitoring of the standards of the children’s work and of the quality of teaching in English is the responsibility of the English subject leader. Pupils work, lesson planning and assessments are all used to monitor the subject as are lesson observations and pupil interviews. The subject leader also undertakes weekly monitoring of individual classes on a rota basis to include all KS1 and KS2 classes every term. The monitoring takes planning and books into account and results in individual feedback outlining strengths and areas to develop. The work of the subject leader also involves supporting colleagues in the teaching of English, being informed about current developments in the subject, and providing a strategic lead and direction for the subject in the school. The subject leader gives the Headteacher an annual summary report in which s/he evaluates the strengths and weakness in the subject, and indicates areas for further improvement. This report is also shared with governors. Each term the English Subject Leader analyses results in reading and writing which are then shared with the Senior Leadership Team.