Curriculum – English Writing
English has a prominent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
Our school curriculum is designed to enable our children to become respectful and successful adults in terms of being able to find employment in the future, to maintain healthy lifestyles and to be moral citizens. It is also designed to provide a relevant, progressive and well-structured academic curriculum which enables children to develop and master a broad knowledge and wide range of skills. Literacy is a key driver of our curriculum, allowing children to unlock the power of language both spoken and written
- Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes a reader, a writer and confident speaker by the time they leave Castleside Primary School.
- To promote and instill a love for reading, writing and high-quality literature into pupils at all ages.
- To derive an English curriculum, which develops the acquisition of knowledge and skills in line with the National Curriculum expectations.
Our English curriculum is derived around high-quality age-appropriate stimuli. This could include; texts, videos, images or music. We use these to generate ‘buzz and excitement’ in lessons, creating opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading strategies and skills. We aim to develop grammar and punctuation knowledge, and understanding so children can use and apply a greater range of skills across the wider curriculum; explore the writing structure and features of different genres and identify the purpose and audience. Children plan and write an initial piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and redrafting.
As stated in the National Curriculum 2014; the writing process, which the children will be taught is;
- evaluate/ edit
We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made. To engross children in the writing process, children are given opportunities to write for a range of purposes; they are encouraged to think about and engage the intended 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, writing is based on the interests of each cohort. Stimuli is found from a range of sources such as videos, music, images, novels and extracts. Writing opportunities are sourced and developed based on the needs of each cohort. Our curriculum allows children to have the opportunity to explore rich, high-quality texts in depth, enhancing reading comprehension and providing meaningful contexts and purposes for writing. The teaching of this is flexible and class teachers are then, in turn, able to apply their own creativity to cover the objectives set out in the National Curriculum.
At Castleside our curriculum very much focuses on the needs of individual child. Children access a personalised curriculum. A writing unit usually lasts 2-3 weeks. Within this time, children are taught the formal structures of English appropriate to their current ability. This may include covering the curriculum from previous year groups. We believe children should be secure in a year group before moving onto the next year groups’ curriculum. This ensures children’s skills are embedded before moving on.
If a child is confident within their year groups’ curriculum, they will not move onto the next year but will master their current year group. This includes lots of opportunities to write from different perspectives and in older classes the opportunity to decide purpose and audience.
Throughout a unit children have opportunities to take part in ‘mini-writes’. This is an opportunity for children to apply new learning. In all year groups children end a unit completing the full writing process.
The teaching of Grammar and Spelling is in line with the requirements of The National Curriculum (2014). To be able to spell correctly is an essential life skill. When spelling becomes automatic, pupils can concentrate on the content of their writing and the making of meaning. Whilst we note that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling can have a profound effect on the writer’s self-image. We aim to use explicit, interactive teaching, which draws children’s attention to the origins, structure and meaning of words and their parts, the shape and sound of words, the letter patterns within them and the various ways they can learn these patterns.
In Reception and KS1, daily phonics is the key to the children’s learning of spelling. From Year 2 and into KS2 the children move towards using their phonic knowledge to help them to understand spelling rules and patterns. We teach children to use their growing understanding of the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words to support their spelling. Helping the children to understand how to use and apply known spelling patterns (and to develop strategies to tackle tricky words) is the key to helping them to become successful spellers. Spelling skills are taught daily in both KS1 and KS2.
When writing, children should be concentrating on higher order thinking skills and should simply ‘have a go’ at spelling. Where words are spelt incorrectly, they are highlighted in their books. Children are then given the correct spelling, copying it correctly at least 3 times. Staff also recognise common errors in class and these are added to weekly spellings.
We do not test spelling rules each week. This is to ensure children are learning the spelling rule and not a list of words. Each week we will test spellings from weeks gone by.
On entry, our Foundation Stage children are involved in varied activities to develop essential prewriting skills in line with the Early Learning Goals; there is much focus on developing gross and fine motor skills and strengthening muscles in the arms and fingers. We use ‘Dough Disco’ and many playdough activities to increase muscle strength. Children are also introduced to the individual letters and rigorously taught correct formation, from the very beginning of their time in school. From the time that children are ready, they are taught to sit with a good posture and are taught to hold a pencil with the correct grip.
At Castleside Primary School, we teach handwriting at least twice a week from Year 1 to Year 6. Class teachers follow the ‘From the Line’ scheme. As children progress through school, there is an increasing focus on fluency, consistency and speed. In years 1 – 5 every child starts with a pencil each September until they can demonstrate good handwriting skills. Pen licenses are only issued when the Headteacher has seen consistently good handwriting in line with year group expectations. All children in year 6 work in pen.
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. Children will 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 Reception. We intend the impact of our English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school and throughout their educational journey.