At our school we believe good communication skills are essential in order to develop positive and effective relationships and to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the World around us. We recognise that children arrive at our school with broad and diverse language experiences (including children with English as a second language) and we endeavour to help all children become fluent and confident communicators, whether through writing, reading or speaking.
Our teachers are passionate about what we teach and how we teach it. We aim high and expect our children to make rapid and sustained progress. We feel that this can best be achieved through a stimulating topic based approach, which inspires the children to develop necessary skills in writing, reading and speaking and apply them in a range of cross curricular contexts.
The English curriculum consists of several strands, including:
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Speaking and Listening
The sections below provide some further information about the children’s experience of each aspect of English at our school.
Throughout the school we have very high expectations for writing. This can be seen in the high quality learning displayed in each of the classrooms, in books and the wider school environment. We adopt a consistently creative approach to the teaching of writing, in order for the children to develop essential skills in an engaging and exciting way. Through inspirational starting points and topics, the children develop confidence and accuracy when writing across the curriculum. We enrich learning through visitors, authors and real life experiences in order to give the children a real purpose for their writing.
We aim to:
- Develop a genuine love of writing, promoting positive attitudes
- Develop confidence and fluency when writing
- Encourage the children to value their own writing and that of others
- Encourage creativity and the use of more ambitious vocabulary in their writing
- Enable children to write independently for a range of purposes and audiences
- Enhance planning, drafting, editing and redrafting skills
- Help children recognise that writing is a powerful communication tool
- Provide equal opportunities for all pupils to achieve success when writing
Through creative and purposeful activities the children will develop the diverse skills needed to become confident and critical writers of different genres. The children build up stamina, confidence and enthusiasm for writing because they are regularly exposed to extended writing opportunities. They will be taught the conventions of non-fiction writing as well as being helped to develop their creative skills in poetry and story writing.
We encourage the children to write independently from an early age. Whilst an emphasis in the FS2 is on speaking and listening, storytelling, singing of nursery rhymes and role play, there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with writing through meaningful child initiated and teacher led activities.
In all year groups the children are encouraged to take pride in their learning and to try their very best to present it using neat handwriting.
In FS2 the children are encouraged to develop a simple print style letter formation until they are comfortable with a correct pencil grip and are confident with mark making. From Year 1, the children are taught to join their writing in a cursive script and this continues throughout the school. There is a strong link between cursive joined writing and the development of effective spelling, therefore all children are encouraged to develop a fluent handwriting style. Formal handwriting sessions take place regularly, however the children are given plenty of opportunities to explore, play and mark make with a range of resources to develop fine and gross motor skills.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation have a much greater emphasis in The New 2014 National curriculum. Expectations have risen, so we have adapted our provision in these areas to ensure that the children make the very best progress. We recognise that it is a whole school priority and every class from FS2 teaches grammar, spelling and punctuation. Each classroom has its own SPAGPUSS display, which highlights to the children the importance of Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation in a child friendly way. Classrooms are well equipped with word banks and resources to support these areas and the children with their learning.
In FS2 and KS1 we follow the daily Letters and Sounds programme, which is the synthetic phonics approach to early reading and spelling. In Key stage 2 some children will continue to use this programme, whilst others will begin to use Spellodrome, an online interactive spelling resource. The New National curriculum have lists of words for each year group to learn, as well as a range of spellings from other subject areas, which the teachers are all familiar with. From Year 1 spelling lists are given for the children to learn and practise at home. These will be checked weekly in class or online. In order to raise standards and to promote the importance of accuracy, each class has a range of non negotiable words which the children will be expected to spell independently in their writing. Sample spelling lists, strategies for supporting spelling and further information about Letters and Sounds can be found on this website.
Specific grammar skills are taught throughout the school. There are formal grammar assessments in Year 6 and there is due to be a new assessment introduced to Year 2 children in 2016. Each year group teach elements of grammar, in a range of ways, in order to promote the use of correct spoken and written Standard English. The children are encouraged to identify and use different word classes and play with word choice to uplevel their learning. A key element to our teaching of grammar is the message that grammar can be fun! Jokes, limericks, and changes in word order or use of punctuation can help the children explore our diverse and rich language.
A glossary for grammatical terms can be found on the school’s website.
Speaking and Listening
In the New curriculum Speaking and Listening is mentioned across the different subject range and children are expected to develop effective speaking skills whatever the subject area. At Queens’ Crescent School we embrace this. We firmly believe that the bedrock to becoming a successful learner is being able to talk about your ideas in a clear and confident manner before committing them to paper. High quality talk is an essential part of our curriculum and this is often done through dialogic discussion. These discussions are key in our classrooms and allow the children to pose each other different questions and challenge ideas in an articulate and confident manner. We encourage children to listen to and respond thoughtfully to contributions of others, as well as becoming clear and fluent speakers themselves. The use of talk partners and talk triangles encourage the children to share their ideas and listen to those of others. Turn taking, respect, use of eye contact and understanding body language are essential skills when developing positive relationships. We encourage the children to develop these skills from an early age in order to develop a trusting ethos within our classes. This in turn, allows for deeper understanding of each other and our learning.
Nursery rhymes, songs, poetry and oral stories are used in every classroom as a way to promote pronunciation as well as developing creativity. We firmly believe that good Oracy will enhance the children’s creative writing and always encourage the children to talk through their ideas in full and extended sentences. We learn a range of Pie Corbett stories, which allow the children to internalise short stories and rhymes and put actions to them. This then allows the children to develop a bank of words, phrases and themes which they can then use in their own storywriting. The children have great fun changing the characters settings and endings in their own versions and performing them to different audiences.
The use of drama is powerful in allowing the children to explore and understand themselves and their relationships with others. We often use it in our everyday teaching as a way of stimulating imagination and empathy. This can lead onto effective writing and deeper understanding. Key Stage 1 classes have role play areas and in Key Stage 2 the children are encouraged to act in role and consider different scenarios to support topic work. Drama specialists often visit the school to hold workshops for the children and our teachers are confident when acting in role and providing characters for hot seating. We are not at all surprised when we see historical figures walking down our corridors! We are fortunate to have our own drama studio and we have plans to build an outdoor stage to facilitate more opportunities for the children to develop their own role play at lunchtimes and play times.
At Queen’s Crescent we love a good drama and every year each team put on a high quality production full of extraordinary surprises! The children at our school are so confident on stage and many exhibit otherwise hidden talents. In FS2 the children perform in their first nativity. In Key Stage 1 the children perform different versions of a Christmas theme. Whilst in KS2, past productions include ‘Oliver!’, ‘Grease!’, ‘Wicked!’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, to name but a few. The children love performing to their adults and to each other. Each year the quality of singing, dancing and acting appears to get better and better and many of our children have gone onto to perform in other shows outside of school. The opportunity to perform in front of others is such an important one. It allows the children to develop confidence, take risks, work collaboratively and most importantly ‘shine’.
A love of reading is really promoted throughout our school. We have a high quality, vibrant central library which the children use daily. Classrooms are well equipped with a range of books from different genres and our non fiction library is packed with hundreds of books on different subjects. But it is not just the books on offer that show how much we value reading. Each of our adults love reading and regularly share this passion through book reviews and recommendations. It is in our very veins of the school and our message to the children is that reading is the key to unlocking their imagination and their success. Through effective reading, the children can access so much more than the curriculum and it our aim to help the children recognise the endless possibilities that reading can offer.
To begin our journey into books we follow the Oxford Reading Tree scheme. These include Fireflies, Project X and Biff and Chip books. These are supplemented by a rich variety of picture books. We recognise that every diet needs to be broad and varied and this also applies to the types of books the children read. We encourage them to choose their own books and talk about their choices. We encourage them to visit the school library and the town library to enjoy the experience of having so many books to choose from. We offer a range of books to suit all ages and tastes, including those to support dyslexic readers (Barrington Stoke books) and to inspire boy readers.
Authors come to our school to offer inspiration, workshops and to answer any questions the children may have. Our successful reading festivals have allowed us to invite storytellers, authors and parents into the school to share in our passion for books. We also hold a regular after school library club for parents and children, in order for them to enjoy books and our wonderful storysacks together.
Alongside our love of reading we do recognise the absolute priority that reading has in our learning journey and we teach specific reading skills. This is through Letters and Sounds, Guided reading, paired reading and sometimes individual reading. The children are taught a variety of strategies, including, segmenting, blending, stretching out and using picture or contextual cues. Daily reading activities occur in each classroom and books are taken home by each child to ensure that reading takes place out of school and is supported by parents. We are always pleased with the high standards achieved in our children’s reading, however sometimes we do recognise that some individual’s may need further support to boost their progress. Therefore, we employ a teacher to lead Reading Interventions across the school.
Children in Year 1 and 2 who have been identified as needing additional reading support have Reading Rainbows lessons with a specially trained teacher for 30 minutes a day. The lesson series lasts for up to 20 weeks and the programme is different for every child, starting from what the child knows and what he/she needs to know next. The focus of each lesson is to comprehend messages in reading and construct messages in writing, learning how to attend to detail without losing focus on meaning. At the end of the programme most children are able to read and write without help, at the appropriate level for their age and after the intervention their progress continues in line with their peers.
Reading Rockets is a teacher delivered intervention overseen by the Reading Intervention Teacher. Children identified as vulnerable to underachievement in Years 3 and 4 work in pairs for 20 minute sessions once or twice a week to develop and practise a range of decoding strategies as well as the skills needed for fluency, comprehension and enjoyment.
Better Reading Partners is carried out by TA’s parent helpers and governors who receive training and continued support from either a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader or the Queen’s Crescent Reading Interventions Teacher. These volunteers focus on developing strategies for building fluency and comprehension. They work 1:1 for 15 minutes three times a week and the programme lasts for ten weeks. If you feel you are able offer further support to the school and would like to be trained as a Better Reading Partner, please contact Mrs Le Cluse for more information.
Peer Reading Buddies are children from years 4-6 who receive training from the Reading Intervention Teacher. They aim to read daily with a Key Stage 1 or FS2 child promoting independence, confidence and the enjoyment of books and reading.
Evidence shows that the progress made through these interventions is accelerated and importantly, the programmes often act as a spring board to boost self confidence and enjoyment when reading.
For further support in how to help your child read, please look at our parent booklet on this website.
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