At Stanhope our intent is to provide an engaging and innovative English curriculum that promotes high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with the skills to speak and write fluently. Through a diverse range of reading opportunities, children develop an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage, read fluently and with good understanding, and develop a love of reading for both pleasure and information. These skills enable children to become confident communicators and active citizens who make a positive contribution to society.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that children hear and speak is vital for developing vocabulary and grammar. Children develop the capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, as well as connect the knowledge and ideas gained across the wider curriculum through making presentations, acting in role and participating in debates, often as part of half-termly Learning Quest topics.
In addition to daily English sessions, children develop early reading skills through the use of the Everybody is a Reader programme from reception to Year 2, and beyond for those who need additional support. From Year 2, use of the Cracking Comprehension scheme develops comprehension skills through high-quality discussion of a range of stories and non-fiction texts. A love of reading is developed through weekly visits to our Library and daily reading of a book from our 40 recommended reading books. This is designed using books, written by inspirational authors, which we value and want the children to have read by the time they leave primary education. Texts are purposefully selected to take the reader on a journey, from sharing picture books, to sharing a range of chapter books that gradually expose the reader to beautifully crafted story lines with evermore intriguing and challenging themes. Some books also fit with the year group’s Learning Quest and science topics. It is our intent that through reading, children have the chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually, as well as have a strong command of decoding and comprehension.
Talk for Writing strategies are embedded from the Early Years Foundation Stage on-wards and provide children with opportunities to visualise texts and orally rehearse sentence construction in preparation for writing. Correct grammatical terms are taught and used to discuss writing. We foster a culture where children take pride in their writing and are able to write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of purposes and audiences. Opportunities to enhance vocabulary are captured in Magpie books, for example, developing an understanding of figurative language. Effective composition is taught through planned and structured opportunities to imitate, innovate and write independently. Our Curriculum Drivers of growth mindset, community and environment shape every aspect of English, are embedded in teaching and learning and develop the child as a whole.
In all year groups, we teach writing through high-quality texts – ranging from picture books to Shakespeare, immersive real-life experiences, such as school trips, or a combination of both.
Over their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1 children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between in each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their work, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1 children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.