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.
The National Curriculum divides English into five strands: Speaking and Listening, Reading, Writing, Spelling and Handwriting.
Speaking and Listening
Beginning in Nursery 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 perform in a Christmas nativity every year and in Year 6 pupils end their time at the school by performing a musical.
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
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 support our pupils in developing the reading strategies and skills needed to explore the meaning of the books being read. As children progress through the school, they will hone their ability to infer, explain content, summarise, make predictions and connections.
Our sixth form volunteers from Latymer Upper School listen to children read in KS2.
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.
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 taught spelling rules and patterns in weekly lessons and subsequently tested the following 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.
How Parents Can Help
Parents have the ability to influence their children’s attitude to reading and ensuring they have a positive attitude to reading. Talking about books and sharing them together can be an enjoyable and effective activity. We understand that many parents speak more than one language and at Flora Gardens we think that regular practise and a focus on reading for pleasure is a skill everyone can give to their child. Reading with your child can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to a particular genre or even language!
Making sure your child has a quiet place to read is also important. At EYFS, KS1 and lower KS2, we ask for your support in filling out a reading record that indicates you have heard your child read. For upper KS2, the children complete their reading records independently and discuss their chosen books with their class teacher.
We believe giving children experience of quality books will not only enhance their literary skills but also inspire them to engage with books, develop a love of reading and create motivation to write.
Below is a wonderful and highly recommended list of ‘100 books to read before…’ series created by Ashley Booth, a Year 6 Teacher in Liverpool.
You will find books suitable for all primary ages in the attachments below:
And click on this link for the 100 best picture books for Early Years