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English

Intent

At Gretton we understand how vitally important it is for all our children to become confident speakers, readers and writers, to be able to take a full part in our world. We want our children to become perceptive listeners and to learn to speak, read and write with fluency, understanding and enjoyment, so that they can make the most of their own lives and be able to engage positively with wider society.

We recognise that speaking and listening skills are the bedrock of communication and we aim to provide a carefully planned, challenging and stimulating programme of activities to help children to listen to each other carefully, value all contributions to a discussion and speak clearly and confidently to a range of audiences. We encourage children to have a keen interest in words and their meanings and to develop a wide vocabulary.

We know that reading unlocks the door to a world of learning and so we place reading at the heart of our curriculum. We aim to inspire our children to read by immersing them in the best children’s books from the very start of school, by teaching them to read for themselves as soon as possible and by encouraging them to read for enjoyment and to develop a real love of books.

We want all our children to be able to write effectively for a wide range of purposes and audiences and to be able to express themselves in writing. We aim for each child to develop a fluent and legible handwriting style, use accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation and be able to write with imagination and creativity. We encourage them to take pride in the quality and presentation of their work and to view themselves as authors.      

Implementation

Phonics

From the first week of children joining us in Reception, we start to teach them to read, using systematic synthetic phonics (SSP). We have chosen Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds as our SSP which we are using in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 to ensure a consistent approach. Children have daily phonics sessions and there are regular keep-up interventions with Teachers and TAs for those children who need extra practice. We have invested in new decodable reading books which match the GPCs taught in the Little Wandle scheme. Children read in small groups with a teacher/TA three times each week, to develop their decoding, prosody and comprehension skills. This book is then taken home to showcase their reading to parents. Children also take home a 'sharing book' each week to encourage families to read for pleasure at home. Please see the Early Reading page for more information. 

Reading

When children have acquired a good phonic knowledge, from Y2 onwards we have chosen to use Literary Leaves, a complete scheme provided by Literacy Treee.  For guided reading, we provide a range of sequenced activities that take children through whole books to teach reading comprehension and create critical readers. Literary Leaves use novels, poetry collections and high-quality, non-fiction books that connect to the Writing Roots through Literary Themes.

In KS2, children choose from a wide range of authors, graded using Accelerated Reader levels to take home to read. 

We encourage our children to read widely for pleasure and regularly take our children to the Cheltenham Literature Festival to immerse them in the excitement of meeting real authors. We celebrate World Book Day with great enthusiasm every year and also host an annual book fair, which helps to highlight the pleasure of reading books. We have also taken part in Read Gloucestershire events, including Readathon, where our children were keen to read to raise money for their charity.  

We are also investing in a library of quality fiction for children to borrow a book each week for their parents to read to them, as we recognise the importance of this in encouraging children to enjoy books and want to read for pleasure.

Writing

We teach the National Curriculum for English and have chosen to use the Literacy Tree scheme of work, as it offers us a carefully structured programme of writing opportunities based on a variety of quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts, whilst allowing us enough flexibility to add in other writing tasks which link to our wider curriculum.

Literacy Tree is a complete, book-based platform for primary schools that covers all requirements of the Primary English curriculum.  The books chosen help children to grow ideas and expand their minds. They only choose significant and important children's literature to create book-based resources.

Handwriting

Correct letter formation is taught and practised in Reception. Basic joins are introduced in Y1 and Y2 using the Penpals scheme and reinforced in Y3. Children are encouraged to use joined handwriting for all writing from Y3 onwards.

Spelling

KS1 children are taught to spell words using a variety of strategies, including phonics, ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ and mnemonics for ‘tricky’ words. Spellings are sent home weekly to practise from Y1. We aim for children to be able to spell the Y1 & 2 Common Exception Words (from the 2014 National Curriculum) by the end of KS1, as well as to be able to use phonics and common spelling patterns.

KS2 children also have regular spelling sessions, using the Headstart scheme. We maintain a balance between investigating patterns and learning ‘tricky’ statutory words.  Homework is linked to words and patterns practised in school. We aim for children to be able to spell the words in the statutory word lists for Y3/4 and Y5/6 (from the 2014 National Curriculum) by the end of KS2.

Grammar and Punctuation

We teach National Curriculum objectives using the Hamilton Trust scheme, which provides a flexible structure, with a progression of skills practised discretely, but also applied into real writing tasks. 

Impact

We assess the impact of our English curriculum in a variety of ways, to ensure that we are developing skills for all our children as best we can. Planning is monitored for coverage, differentiation & progression and English books are monitored to assess learning, attainment, progress, marking & feedback.  We also conduct Learning Walks to check book corners & children’s work on display and do Pupil Conferencing to monitor children’s attitudes.

We do ongoing assessment for learning in our daily Phonics sessions in Reception and Y1, to identify children who need the support of keep up sessions each week, but also individual assessments with every child every six weeks, to ensure no child is left behind. Children in other year groups who appear to have difficulties with phonics, e.g. those who have arrived in KS2 from other schools, are also assessed individually and given 1:1 catch up sessions if needed. Our EYFS and Y1 Phonics check scores have been above the national average for many years.

A range of evidence including guided reading notes and written comprehension activities are used as a basis for making assessment judgements in reading. Assessments are recorded on our online Insight tracker each term for each year group. Reading is also assessed in Y1-6 using PIRA reading tests (except for the summer term in Y2 & Y6, when these year groups do SATs). Reception children take their first PIRA reading test in the summer term too.

Each term pupils’ writing from Y1 to Y6 is also assessed using Insight tracker statements. A range of independent pieces of fiction, non-fiction and cross-curricular writing are used as a basis for entering assessment judgements into Insight every term. We keep sample pieces of independent writing in our red writing folders from each half term, building up a portfolio for each child over their time with us.

Our EYFS Profile Reading and Writing results, Y1 Phonics Check, Y2 Reading & Writing SATS and Y6 Reading and Writing SATs have been around or above the national average for the last three years of results and demonstrate that our children are thriving as readers and writers.