At Rowde C of E Primary Academy, we make the teaching of English the foundation of our curriculum. Our belief is that speaking and listening, reading and writing are the keys to all learning and our ability to communicate. We are determined to help our children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, to support and enhance their thinking and understanding of the world around them through a broad, rich, and engaging English curriculum.
The Rowde English curriculum also gives children the opportunity to further develop and understand our key values: respect, optimism, wisdom, determination, enthusiasm and love. Through the teaching and learning of English, and an exposure to a language rich environment, our students learn about themselves, their values, rights and responsibilities, and enhance their ability to empathise. We place books, vocabulary and reading at the heart of everything we do, as tools to gain knowledge and develop emotional literacy.
Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes primary literate and progresses in speaking and listening, reading, and writing. We mindfully endeavour to ensure that children develop a lifelong, healthy, and enthusiastic attitude towards English, to equip our students with the necessary skills and passion to support them in their forthcoming secondary education.
At Rowde, we use the 2014 National Curriculum and EYFS curriculum for directing the teaching of English. It underpins the whole of the curriculum, as the children develop their English skills in all subjects.
For phonics, we follow a systematic approach to teaching where each grapheme is introduced clearly; a focus is placed on blending to read and segmenting to spell. This provides children with the skills they need to begin to read words, captions and whole sentences as soon as possible. The teaching of phonics begins in Reception using ‘Letters and Sounds’; teaching continues daily to at least the point where children can read almost all words fluently.
Right from Reception, through to Year 2, children practise reading using decodable books that are closely matched to their developing phonic level. Our children often reread the same text multiple times to develop their fluency which includes their accuracy, automaticity (rapid recall of whole known words) and prosody (reading with expression).
As well as our rigorous and systematic phonics curriculum, each class also takes part in a daily ‘Book Club’ lesson. This is a whole-class session and ensures that reading is explicitly taught using ambitious texts which enhance our wider curriculum. Within these lessons, time is also taken to explicitly teach vocabulary encountered in our reading, to enable our students to learn a variety of words and increase their own, overall comprehension of a text.
In writing, our units have two components. Firstly, in our sentence stacking lessons, we start by initiating our thinking and generating our ideas for writing. Over the course of the unit, the class co-construct a text and the children develop their understanding of its key components. In this first phase, the children are guided and supported, with vocabulary and ideas at the heart of every learning chunk. It is here where the majority of our spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) teaching also happens, all in context. The second phase is when the children apply the skills they have developed to their own text. Once completed, it is in this second stage of writing that the children are given time and taught the skills to edit and improve their work.
Our writing curriculum develops progressively and ensures that children are taught how to write narrative, poetry and range of non-fiction texts. Our children revisit and consolidate their skills through different units and our daily writing lessons are enhanced with short SPaG sessions throughout the week to ensure the children know, and can apply, those key elements of writing.
The impact of our Literacy curriculum on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the literacy journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident readers and writers and, by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
In order to measure the impact of our curriculum effectively, we use a two-tier approach to assessment. Firstly, teachers use a range of strategies to take a snapshot of learning within the lessons and then adapt subsequent sessions and learning experiences accordingly so that all children make progress. Secondly, through summative assessments, we make more formal record of the children’s learning against age-related expectations and exemplification materials.
By having such a continuous cycle of assessment, we can ensure that we meet our ambitions and that children leave us with the skills, passion and knowledge necessary to continue to excel in their secondary education. We hope that, as children move on from us to further their education and learning, that their creativity, high aspirations and passion for English travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.