At Middlestone Moor Primary we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often for pleasure and information. We recognise the importance of cultivating a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident when speaking and listening and to be able to use discussion to develop their learning, explain their ideas and opinions, and communicate their knowledge and understanding. Literacy and communication are key life skills that are woven throughout all other subjects in school and are vital for accessing the world beyond. We believe that a thorough grasp of literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
English Curriculum Implementation
Our English curriculum is derived around a sequence of high quality age-appropriate texts and films. We use each book/film to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading strategies and skills; develop grammar and punctuation knowledge and understanding to use and apply across the wider curriculum; explore the writing structure and features of different genres, identify the purpose and audience; plan and write an initial piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and evaluating.
Reading for Pleasure
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
In school, you will find things which celebrate authors – including our author of the half term book displays in classes, inspiring reading corners and spaces, children’s favourite book, authors, genres and recommended reads along with our library full of fiction books and a smaller library which holds non-fiction. Our school librarians take care of the libraries.
At Middlestone Moor Primary, we celebrate reading throughout every phase: we offer book exchange/swap for Nursery children and parents, weekly Stay and Read sessions for parents in Nursery and Reception and monthly sessions for Y1-Y6 children, every class has an author of the half term, as well as having a book-led English curriculum with challenging and engaging texts used in all phases. This includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author visits, book fairs and sponsored reading challenges to further enrich our English curriculum.
Each week, we spend time enjoying reading for pleasure in our classrooms during reading time. Pupils are able to choose the books/texts they wish to read and enjoy, can choose to share a book with a peer, read comics, ‘Picture News’ newspapers (to find out more about the world around them at Upper KS2), or choose to read topic books related to our wider curriculum.
Additionally, there are regular times across the week when adults read a class book aloud to the children to further promote a love of reading.
Reading at Middlestone Moor Primary
Reading is a high priority area of our English curriculum at Middlestone Moor Primary. Reading is a fundamental skill, used to stimulate children’s imaginations and give them a love for books. A centralised aspect of our book-led English curriculum across school, reading influences the thoughts, feelings and emotions of all of our learners. We dedicate a lesson at the start of our English planning cycle to developing reading skills, along with many other opportunities to develop reading across each week. We carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in this in order to support their child’s ongoing development.
In EYFS, reading skills are taught in phonics lessons initially, followed by whole class, small group and 1-1 lessons done with a teacher or teaching assistant. At Key Stage 1, reading is a combination of whole class, group and 1-1 reading sessions depending on the year group and time of year. Some children will access Lexia, an online program to develop reading skills. At Key Stage 2, reading is done in whole class reading sessions, three times per week. For these sessions, Year 5 and 6 use a reading program called Reading Plus (or sometimes Lexia), which helps them develop a fluent reading speed, wider vocabulary and good comprehension skills. If any child in school is working below the expected standard, targeted intervention and support is put in place with additional phonics and extra reading with adults. Some children will also read with additional adults who come into school, for example a Beanstalk charity volunteer or parent helpers. Children in all classes have story time and have a class book which their learning is based upon: this ensures that reading is correctly modelled to children by reading ‘experts’ (the teacher/TA), as well as giving them the opportunity to enjoy being read to! Each half term, our classes have a new ‘author of the half term’ and are able to read a wide variety of texts written by specific authors.
For Reception and Key Stage 1, we use a phonics scheme called Sounds-Write which is a quality, highly-structured phonics programme. It is a multi-sensory, incremental and code-oriented, instructional approach to teaching children to read and spell. The Sounds-Write programme provides fast and effective teaching for children at all levels. Teachers use lesson plans that are clearly structured and easy to follow within a systematic, synthetic phonics programme. They teach all key elements of conceptual understanding, factual knowledge, and the three essential skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation necessary for learning to read and spell and they do so on a daily basis until all children achieve the automaticity that underlies the fluency of every successful reader. Teachers send home reading books which closely match this programme and which are fully decodable (and in Year 2 children bring home an additional book at a more challenging level to read with parents). Once children are reading more accurately, they can access the other reading scheme books. For more information on Sounds-Write, please visit https://www.sounds-write.co.uk/
Take a look at the recommended texts for your child’s year group on this website https://schoolreadinglist.co.uk/
Another great website for parents is https://www.booktrust.org.uk/ There is a bookfinder section, which can help you find age-appropriate books for your child.
Language Acquisition & Vocabulary Development
We endeavour to ensure we provide our pupils with a ‘language rich’ environment; one way we do this is with our links to the Durham Learning Resource service, which ensures we have a wide range of texts displayed around our school and these correlate with our wider curriculum. We work closely with parents to ensure we share the importance of reading with them. Within our classrooms, we explore ambitious vocabulary with dedicated English lessons covering this. Alongside that, across the wider curriculum, subject leaders have thought about key vocabulary which will need to be taught to ensure our children can access all subjects at a higher level, and staff are expected to develop subject-specific vocabulary during those lessons. We feel this is especially important for our children in Upper Key Stage 2 who will soon be entering Key Stage 3, where they will be expected to use disciplinary literacy knowledge and skills in specific subject lessons.
At Middlestone Moor Primary, we aim to share our vision of high aspirations for all of our pupils through our high expectations across the wider curriculum; by setting these expectations, our pupils are aware of the standards we expect in all lessons and learning opportunities.
Writing at Middlestone Moor Primary
We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader. Particular attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English: grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling.
Throughout Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, our writing follows the book-led curriculum in place across school. Writing opportunities are sourced and developed based on the class text within each year group. Our curriculum allows children the opportunity to explore high-quality texts in depth, enhancing reading comprehension and vocabulary, and providing meaningful contexts and purposes for writing. Within each cycle of learning class teachers are able to apply their own creativity to cover the objectives that are required to be taught.
Teachers clearly model writing skills and writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals. Children have opportunities to write at length within the English cycle and afterwards, in extended, independent writing sessions. This extra sequence of lessons is called May The Words Be With You, a name created by a former Y6 pupil. Children are encouraged to apply their taught skills to a piece of writing which they choose or the class teacher chooses for them. In this writing, the children are still encouraged to think about audience, purpose and effect.
Grammar at Middlestone Moor Primary
As stipulated in the National Curriculum, the grammar of our first language is learnt naturally and implicitly through interactions with other speakers and from reading. Explicit knowledge of grammar is, however, very important, as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language and writing.
Grammar lessons are taught as skills in our English sequence of lessons. Pupils are taught discrete grammar skills, allowing opportunities to identify, practice and consolidate understanding. Opportunities are then provided for our pupils to apply their grammar understanding writing tasks. It is class teachers’ expectations that, following the sequence of lessons to form building blocks to a piece of writing, pupils will begin to independently apply the grammar skills and content taught and embed these within their writing.
At Key Stage 2, pupils receive grammar or spelling home learning once a fortnight to help consolidate those skills.
Spelling at Middlestone Moor Primary
In school, spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions within each class or within Sounds-Write for Reception and Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 1 and 2, teachers send spelling patterns home as home learning. Children are encouraged to investigate and find spellings that fit the pattern given. Pupils are then tested on some of these words in their weekly spelling tests.
The National Literacy Trust has a great website for parents to help support your child’s literacy skills. Follow the link https://literacytrust.org.uk/parents-and-families/
Long term overview writing genres
English National Curriculum documents at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study
British Values in English
At Middlestone Moor Primary, we strive to provide opportunities for pupils to develop their own core values through our Rights respecting ethos, whilst instilling fundamental British Values in many opportunities within units of learning. Here are some examples of how we consolidate our pupils’ understanding of British Values hand in hand with our own English curriculum:
Pupils will develop their individual liberty through freedom and choice of the content, audience and purpose of their writing at times (including developing and justifying own opinions).
Tolerance and Mutual Respect:
Pupils will learn about mutual respect through exploring a character’s relationships, friendships and behaviours in texts. Children will be provided with the opportunity to discuss, debate and justify their own views and opinions, which in turn will develop empathy for others. Children will read and write about others’ personal experiences through autobiography learning, non-fiction texts and narrative.
English Curriculum Impact
We strive to ensure that our children’s attainment is in line or exceeds their potential when we consider the varied starting points of all our children. We measure this using a range of materials, whilst always considering the age-related expectations for each year group. We aim for all children to make at least good progress in reading, writing and speaking and listening from their last point of statutory assessment or from their starting point in Nursery. We intend that the impact of our English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school and throughout their educational journey.