Our Vision for English
To provide rich learning experiences driven by challenge, creativity, imagination and curiosity, giving children opportunities to express and communicate ideas in new ways and make real things for real audiences. Through carefully chosen, relevant topics and challenging and diverse texts, children take ownership of their learning pathways, developing self-esteem and confidence. Children develop a love of language and literature in all its forms, and through this a deep understanding of themselves and others.
The message to pupils
‘English is a creative subject where we are always making something new or original. It is a subject that allows us to explore our own and other people’s emotions and provides safe and interesting ways to express our thoughts, feelings and ideas through talking and writing. It is a chance to enter different worlds and experiences through reading or creating them for ourselves. In English lessons we can ask real questions and debate things that matter to us.’
Our English Curriculum
We pride ourselves on providing a creative and stimulating English curriculum that inspires children with engaging topics, rich texts and creative approaches to reading, writing, spelling and phonics.
Structured around a 4 year rolling programme, our English topics and texts weave in and out of all subject areas. Our curriculum has clear aims and objectives in line with the National Curriculum, but is sufficiently fluid and evolving to take into account new pedagogy and cutting edge thinking and research. Our staff are skilled at setting high expectations in their curriculum planning for all learners, and creating bespoke learning packages to meet the needs of our mixed-age classes.
High quality, challenging texts underpin our whole curriculum and provide the bedrock for learning in all subjects. Our children love reading, and a passion for books is shared by our teachers, parents and whole school community, who are regularly provided with stimulating reading lists. Our children are very proactive at recommending books to each other, and also asking for new ones when stocks are getting low!
Our younger children keep a detailed record of their independent reading in a ‘Reading Record Book’, and our older children are encouraged to make more personal reflections about the texts that inspire them in a ‘Reading Journal’.
All classes in our schools have a special reading corner. Class 2 at Kirkby Fleetham is home to the infamous ‘Story Chair’, where pupils can often be seen huddled around a new exciting literary treat, and in Class One at East Cowton, children make their way through a beautiful archway into the ‘Reading Garden’. We warmly welcome parents to come and read a story to us, or share in one of our own narratives.
Writing and grammar
By providing stimulating writing opportunities, with a sense purpose and meaning, all children are encouraged to find their inner ‘voice’ and learn to love expressing themselves through the art and craft of writing. Writing is a life skill, and our rich curriculum enables all learners to find new and stimulating ways to communicate with different audiences.
Vocabulary is at the heart of much of our learning in English, and from the very first days they step into our school, children are immersed in the awe and wonder of words. A ‘Golden Thread of Language’ has begun to physically weave its way throughout our schools, celebrating new words, and making exciting and challenging vocabulary tangible and worthy of celebration.
Our youngest children are encouraged to class themselves as writers and authors from their very first mark-making experiences, and they can regularly be found writing and illustrating their own books in their own free time. Our older children work arduously on their writing projects, and are constantly challenged to develop their personal style and voice, as well as learning valuable life skills such as editing and redrafting. Class 2 at Kirkby Fleetham is also home to the ‘Writer’s Apothecary’ – a mysterious little desk and cupboard, where children can literally mix words, ideas and potions together to stimulate their ideas and get the creative juices flowing.
We take a holistic approach to writing and grammar, and find that through carefully planned activities children can meet the demanding expectations of the grammar curriculum, by experiencing (and enjoying!) technical terminology in relevant contexts.
Phonics and Spelling
Phonics are the bedrock of learning to read and write. Children at East Cowton and Kirkby Fleetham enjoy daily phonics sessions, which are tailored to meet the needs of individual learners.
We start in Reception where the children learn sounds using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document which we use to plan the pace and progression of our phonics teaching through its six phases. We aim for the majority of children to be confident up to Phase 4 by the time they leave their Reception year.
In Year One we continue to use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document to plan our phonics teaching and we aim for the majority of children to be confident up to Phase 5 by the time they leave Year One.
In Year Two we continue to use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document to plan our phonics teaching and we aim for the majority of children to be confident up to phase 6 by the time they leave Year Two. If children need extra support with their phonics learning we can offer intervention sessions and groups to help them progress further.
In all classes we strive to plan a range of exciting hands on lessons which build on the skills needed to achieve each phase of the phonics programme. We subscribe to a range of web based resources which bring the phonics lessons alive with games and challenges. Some of these are then made available to parents to use at home. Phonics and reading sessions are available on request as your child starts at our school, here we model how we teach the skills of blending and segmenting and show how parents can continue the learning at home.
If you would like more information on how we teach phonics or have any questions please ask your child’s class teacher who will be happy to give you any further information and advice.
Our phonics learning doesn’t stop when the children leave the class one. Starting in Year 2 and carrying on into Year 6, we follow the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme, through which children are taught in differentiated groups of pacy and engaging daily sessions. Children then follow up their learning in their personal spelling logs at home.
Because children learn to spell in different ways, we aim to provide each child with a range of strategies to draw on when approaching new words. Children have easy access to word mats, dictionaries and a variety of visual pictures and stimuli in the classroom to cater for individual learning needs. Children who find spelling particularly challenging are given one-to-one tailored interventions with experienced members of staff on a regular basis.
Please click the links below to learn more about phonics and spelling and how you can best support your child’s learning at school.
SEN, SMSC and SEMH
English lessons, and wisely chosen texts, are frequently used as vehicles to teach wider curriculum objectives, such as children’s spiritual, moral and cultural awareness and development. Through sensitive questioning and delivery, teachers and children are skilled at leading discussions on a wide range of challenging, controversial topics. We also use texts carefully to teach children about mental health and wellbeing, and help them gain understanding of feelings and emotions and an acceptance of difference. Children with special educational needs, or those who find reading and writing challenging, quickly discover that they are wholly included in the planning and teaching of English, and learn to thrive and develop skills to take with them through life.
If you would like any further information about teaching and learning in English, please contact our subject leader Kirsti-Anna Hume.