English at Flora Gardens underpins all aspects of our education and school community. At Flora Gardens we expect all our pupils to develop into thoughtful readers and creative writers and it is through the use of high quality class texts and the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach that we believe we can achieve this. The multi-sensory and interactive teaching style of this enables pupils of all ages and abilities to learn to write a wide range of stories/text types.
Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children at Flora Gardens will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
Children who read do better in school – click here for a very useful document on how to help your child read
The National Curriculum divides English into five strands: Speaking and Listening, Reading, Writing, Spelling and Handwriting.
Speaking and Listening
Beginning in Reception and continuing through all Primary years the children develop their capacity to express themselves effectively for a variety of purposes. Working with adults and other children, their activities include listening, giving opinions, replying to instructions and questions, describing experiences and feelings. Starting in EYFS and KS1 children re-tell familiar stories using actions and story maps following our ‘Talk for Writing’ approach.
As the children progress through the school they extend these skills to recount events, tell more complex stories, take on dramatic roles, report, summarise and predict. Children are also provided with opportunities to compose, recite and perform poetry. Class assemblies give the children a chance to showcase their learning to parents and the rest of the school.
EYFS and KS1 will be performing in a Christmas nativity this year and the Year 6 will end the year with a summer show.
At Flora Gardens, children learn not only the mechanics of reading, but to become accomplished, comprehending readers; developing the habit of silent reading and a love of reading for life.
This year we are continuing to use whole class texts in our developing curriculum, embedding high quality literature at the heart of our English lessons
Early reading starts in Reception with excellent phonic teaching using the DfES Letters and Sounds programme combined with Read, Write Inc and Jolly Phonic resources and this is then continued through into Y1, and Y2.
Each class has a designated reading area to help promote the love and high importance that reading holds in our school. Within this there is a range of fiction and non-fiction banded reading books which the children take home daily along with a book for pleasure. Lower down the school parents are encouraged to share a book with their child, listen to them read and write a comment in their Reading Record. Further up the school children write their own comments using the question stems in the middle of their Reading Records.
Daily Guided Reading sessions give the children opportunities to develop their V.I.P.E.R skills (Vocabulary, inference, Prediction, Explanation and Retrieval) and explore the meaning of the books being read.
Our sixth form Volunteers, from Latymer Upper School, listen to children read in KS1 and KS2 and share books with the children in EYFS weekly.
West London Zone have provided support for our weaker readers from the Children’s Literacy Charity and Beanstalk. Beanstalk is a national charity which recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. Both Beanstalk and the Children’s Literacy Charity train reading helpers that work one-to-one with the children to improve their reading ability and confidence.
We have recently moved our school library back into the main building and now have ten Year 5 and 6 librarians who open the library Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime. They are all superb advocates of promoting reading for pleasure and recommending books to children across the school.
Spelling, Handwriting and Composition – These strands go hand in hand throughout the Curriculum.
Children at Flora Gardens develop a growing ability to write in a range of styles and writing outcomes are always purposeful and seek ‘real’ audiences through publication and display.
Teachers follow the Talk for Writing approach and use oral work as a prelude to most writing tasks and vocabulary is explicitly taught. Writing tasks are broken down into smaller steps with feedback given from the class teacher at different stages (e.g. brainstorming, planning, boxing up, drafting and editing). Emphasis is laid upon drafting, as a process to encourage children to improve the construction, spelling and layout of their written work. All children in KS2 have ‘Magpie’ books where they note down new vocabulary and their own definition, written in context which they then use in their own work. Much of their writing is developed from the use of high quality literature, as the children respond to plot, character, illustration and ideas.
They are taught the rudiments of grammar, progressively from Reception through to Year 6, both discretely, as well as in the context of the literature they are studying.
Children are given individualised spellings weekly using our school spelling bookmarks which they are then tested on in the week.
Our aim, over time is to ensure our children become accomplished proficient spellers – much needed in these days of text speak.
We follow the cursive handwriting scheme and children are encouraged to prove that they are writing, using the correct joins, in order to have their own ‘pen licence’.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferable 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 focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.