At Lowtown we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop a love of reading, writing and oracy. English is not only a core subject but the vehicle through which children can access the entire curriculum. One of our key priorities is teaching children to read enabling them to both read for pleasure but also learn, understand and make sense of the world around them through comprehension. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children are engaged and take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style to a range of contexts. We also want to inspire our children to become confident speakers who can use language and discussion to communicate effectively.
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge base in English which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum and beyond. This secure knowledge base in English is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the skills they need to participate fully as a member of society.
These aims are embedded through English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework, that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and oracy. We use a wide variety of quality texts from a range of classic and contemporary authors to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that links with other subject areas are woven into the programme of study for English enabling children to transfer the skills acquired to the wider curriculum.
The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding of ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At Pudsey Lowtown, we have developed a new approach to the teaching of early reading which matches independent reading books to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics phases. Our reading scheme is fully decodable and the books children read will be in line with the phonic phase they are learning. Once children are fluent, they will become “Free Readers” which enables them to access books from our class and central libraries. Each class has a “Recommended Reading List” which ensures that the books they are reading for pleasure, includes a varied "diet" of age appropriate texts from a variety of authors. In addition to independent reading, children in Key Stage 1 and EYFS and have three opportunities a week to read as a group focusing on decoding, prosody and comprehension of texts. This approach has been shared with parents who are encouraged to use the “3 Read” technique at home in order to develop fluency.
Comprehension is also taught across school weekly as a whole class with a focus on developing reading skills (VIPERS) in line with the National Curriculum content domains. Teachers use a variety of texts and reading opportunities including the half termly narrative focus within these sessions.
Independent reading opportunities are given high priority throughout school. Each class also has a dedicated reading for pleasure session each day where books are chosen and read by the class teacher.
Our writing curriculum enables children to write for a real purpose drawing from quality texts and other curriculum areas. It is designed to engage and excite children giving them the opportunity to showcase their skills through a range of genres. Each half term, every class has a focus narrative text which enables them to participate in both short-burst and extended writing activities. In line with our framework for writing, lessons are designed to teach the basics of grammar, punctuation and spelling giving children regular opportunities to use and apply those concepts independently. Each unit begins with a piece of independent writing (the cold task) which demonstrates the starting point and informs planning. The final piece of writing (the hot task) is completed after a carefully planned sequence of lessons. In addition, teachers use other curriculum areas as stimuli for non-fiction writing giving children a real reason to write and enabling them to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of a variety of concepts and contexts.
At Lowtown, oracy is interwoven across the entire curriculum with a real emphasis on effective discussion. Our progressive “talk rules” have been introduced to develop speaking across school. Each week a Votes for Schools talk stimulus is introduced (and sent home via the newsletter) which draws upon current issues which affect our children and the world around them. Children are encouraged to actively join in the discussion using the talk rules but they are not only used in these sessions. Teachers plan regular opportunities across the curriculum to engage the children in discussion with a real focus on clear and effective “talk”.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well-established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper key stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can then focus on sustained writing, the manipulation of grammar and a real emphasis on writer’s craft.
Assessment for writing is based upon a piece of fiction and non-fiction writing each half term using the schools assessment framework. End of year judgments are made across a range of pieces over time which evidence all the age related standards necessary.
In relation to independent reading, children have regular opportunities to access age related reading comprehensions which in addition to assessing understanding demonstrates the ability to read texts fluently.
Our key stage 2 statutory data demonstrates that by the time children leave Lowtown, a high percentage (above national levels) are achieving at least age related expectations in English writing, reading and grammar with many working within the greater depth standard.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum - cross-curricular writing standards have also improved as skills taught in English lessons are transferred into other subjects. This demonstrates consolidation in practise with pupils gaining a deeper understanding of how to use their reading, writing and speaking skills effectively across the entire curriculum.
English Core Text long term plan
The texts that we use in school have been carefully chosen to ensure children have access to a wide range of classic and contemporary fiction. The plan is revised annually to take advantage of new texts or allow changes where we think a certain text would be more appropriate for a specific cohort.
English Poetry Spine
The spine is used to ensure each year group has a half-termly opportunity to study poetry. Children will build up a repertoire of poems and rhymes - some of which will be performed.
Each narrative unit of writing is planned using the sequence below. There is a strong emphasis upon grammar and sentence construction daily which is then applied through short burst writing activities linked to the text.
For non-fiction the sequence is slightly different but still has the key focus of building up writing "skills" and providing opportunities to use and apply those skills regularly. Often children use their learning from other subject areas as a stimulus for non-fiction writing as this allows them the opportunity to revisit and apply their subject knowledge.
English Year Group Writing Progression
At Lowtown, we believe that reading should be a fundamental part of childhood and a skill which should be developed to support lifelong learning. Our aim is to develop and embed a strong, sustainable reading culture within our school community. Confident, fluent readers will foster a love of reading through a rich and varied experience of texts, in which they are empowered to exercise freedoms of choice and independence. Inspiring children to read is imperative as it underpins every aspect of learning and secures a good trajectory for personal development and understanding the world in which they live.
Our reading curriculum is designed to ensure children have regular opportunities to develop both their word recognition and language comprehension each year which in turn will lead to them becoming successful in comprehending the texts that they read.
For any parents/carers who missed our recent Key Stage 2 Reading meeting please see the presentation below. If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact your class teacher or Mrs Tew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Early Reading and phonics at Lowtown
For parents of children in Key Stage 1 or Reception, the below documents are useful guides in how you can support your child in their reading journey. All of the information about the teaching of early reading and Phonics at Lowtown can be found in the ‘Early Reading Booklet’. In September 2021, we implemented a new Phonics scheme: ‘Little Wandle’s Letters & Sounds’. You can find an overview of our Phonics scheme along with the teaching structure we follow in ‘Structure of Phonics teaching at Lowtown’. In case you were unable to make it, the PowerPoint from our presentation to parents on early reading can also be found below.
Our pronunciation guides give more information on how to correctly pronounce sounds and form letters, so please do look through these see how you can best support your child. The guides will also show you the picture cards we use in school to support children in learning to recognise the graphemes (written letters linked to taught sounds).
If you have any questions about Phonics or early reading please contact either your child’s class teacher or our Phonics Leader Miss Brearey (email@example.com).
The ability to make sense of language and text is intrinsic to academic success both in primary school and beyond.
We teach comprehension skills through whole class discrete lessons which focus on the National Curriculum content domains.
Key Stage 1 - Content Domains
Key Stage 2 - Content Domains
All reading comprehension assessments (both statutory and in school) are based on these question types and our children will have lots of opportunities to apply their comprehension skills through age appropriate texts.
In school we use Reading Vipers which is a resource that synthesises the content domains into six question types. Each half term your child will focus on different aspects of VIPERS in their taught sessions and will then be given opportunities to use and apply those skills through a range of texts. Progression in the questions used in VIPERS is detailed in our reading progression document with some useful questions "stems" you can use when talking about the books your child has read.
Key Stage 1 - VIPERS Comprehension Questions
Key Stage 2 - VIPERS Comprehension Questions
Once a child has completed the reading scheme in school they will become a "free reader" which enables them to choose their own books from a wide range of genres and authors. In order to ensure that children are reading books at the right level, they must read one/two books (depending on their year group) from their class Recommended Reading list each half term. After reading a recommended read, children must complete a reading review for their reading journal. They can then select books of their own choice from the class/school library or from home.
Children in key stage 2 who are on the reading scheme are still encouraged to borrow books from their class libraries to share at home alongside their school book.
As part of our ongoing focus on oracy, we hold weekly "Votes for Schools" debates where children are encouraged to discuss a variety of topical issues. Votes for Schools (www.votesforschools.com) is an amazing initiative which supports schools in ensuring that children are talking about up to date current issues which will affect them either now or in the future. After the discussion, each class votes on the issue - the results of which are collated online before we find out what our school as a whole decided. It also tells us the national picture so we can see what other children across the country decided too. The Votes for Schools discussion topic will be included each week in our newsletter so you can join in with the discussion at home too!
Our "Talk Rules" have been implemented across school to give children the skills that they require to become effective communicators.