The teaching of English incorporates Speaking and Listening, Writing and Reading. At Heber our aim is to foster a love of reading, writing and discussion where children are excited and motivated by the high quality, engaging texts we use. It is important to us that children see their cultures, families and relationships reflected in the texts we use.
Our English curriculum is meaningful and provides children with real reasons to write, whether to explain, persuade, inform or instruct. These writing opportunities are embedded within our texts and often link to other curriculum areas. Spoken language is developed through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text. We believe that children should be excited by literature, confident with their own abilities of reading, writing and spoken language.
Speaking & listening is not taught explicitly; it permeates every element of school life. A key strength of our curriculum is in the time dedicated across the school to the use of drama to support writing. Children are given the opportunity to rehearse and practice their ideas before committing them to paper. This is a particularly successful strategy for reluctant writers. Debate also plays an important part in the development of children’s speaking & listening skills. Debating is also crucial to the development of children’s critical thinking skills. Children have the opportunity to participate in debates throughout their school life during whole class teaching; these debates are linked to the class text and topics.
Heber is currently part of a very exciting two year fully funded project with The Globe Theatre. Four teachers from the school have had extensive training from The Globe practitioners and will become ‘lead teachers’. The project is focused on developing and embedding a range of drama techniques and storytelling throughout the school. By the end of this project, all year groups will cover a Shakespeare text during the year. The impact of this project can already be seen. Children involved in the project are using richer vocabulary in their writing as well as developing their confidence in drama sessions.
Teachers plan rich and varied writing tasks that where possible relate to the topic being studied at the time. Our teaching of writing offers;
Quality children’s literature by significant authors
Engaging starting points and immersion through experiential learning with a clear sense of audience and purpose.
A clear build up to writing longer pieces using drama, planning and shorter writing tasks.
Editing; this plays an integral part of the writing process and is taught explicitly.
Grammar, Spelling and Reading objectives are embedded throughout, with some opportunities for Phonics, all leading to well constructed pieces of work.
Every year, the coverage of books is reviewed and adapted to fit the needs of each individual cohort. Newly published texts are often replaced with older texts in order to ensure the curriculum is relevant and current to the children.
At Heber we are passionate about Reading and want to make sure that all our children develop a love of Reading and that every child leaves us as a critical reader.
Central to our approach is the teaching of systematic phonics using ‘Letters and Sounds’. Daily, discreet high quality teaching alongside effective assessment and tracking helps to ensure that children meet the ambitious reading targets that are set for them.
All of our classrooms feature bright, stimulating and inviting book corners for children to sit and read in and we regularly invest in high quality texts for the children. In our book corners you will often find children’s recommendations and reviews of their favourite books. By the time children leave us in Year 6 they have read many books by a wide range of significant authors.
Guided reading takes place every day. Children are asked to read high quality texts and show their understanding through drama, extended writing and reader’s theatre. We also ensure that throughout their time at school children regularly hear adults reading aloud.
Our reading curriculum is primarily delivered in two ways, through:
- ‘Guided Reading’
- Reading-focused lessons
During these sessions, children are taught the key skills of: retrieval; inference; structure; language choice; purpose/viewpoint and context.
At every stage of a child’s life, reading should be pleasurable and we believe that time should be devoted at school and home to ‘reading for pleasure’. Children have the opportunity to read books of their own choice, which they take home, read and discuss. This is key to the development and enjoyment of reading.
In Years 5 and 6, reading is taught through whole class lessons. Each child will receive a copy of the book being studied. Rich discussion, questioning, follow up tasks and pre-reading tasks form the basis for whole class reading.
Learning is planned in a cross curricular way and we routinely use books as our starting point for a topic. Using a high quality text as a basis for learning really engages the children and helps to develop quality writing as well as stimulating learning in other areas of the curriculum.
Where possible, links to spelling patterns are made through whole class English teaching and Guided Reading sessions. However, this is not always possible. In KS1, spelling is mainly taught through the phonics sessions. In KS2, children have an explicit spelling lesson once a week to ensure that all of the spelling patterns and KS2 word lists are covered. Spelling Shed is an online platform that all children have access to in order to support their spelling. Teachers set words weekly for the children to practice.