Tower Hill Primary School
At Tower Hill Primary School, we believe that communication, language and literacy is fundamental to the overall development of the child and their access to the whole curriculum. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively alienated. We aim to deliver high quality teaching of reading, writing and speaking and listening in order to develop confident and successful life-long learners.
- To provide a language rich environment for all children that promotes a positive culture of reading and writing.
- To develop children’s speaking and listening skills in order that they can express and share their views and ideas clearly and confidently.
- To develop children’s basic and higher order reading and comprehension skills.
- To teach children the skills and techniques for writing in order that they can construct well crafted pieces for a range of purposes and audiences.
- To develop in children an interest in books to support their learning across the curriculum that will also enrich their lives.
- To meet the requirements of the National Curriculum programmes of study for English at Key Stage 1 and 2.
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Read easily, fluently and with good understanding.
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage.
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Teaching and Learning
At Tower Hill Primary School, English is taught everyday to all children from Year R to Year 6. The teaching and learning of English takes place within whole class and group settings which will be planned and led by the class teacher. During these lessons, children will be explicitly taught a range of skills that they will then practise in other Literacy contexts. All lessons will have clear learning objectives and ‘no ceiling’ success criteria in order to engender aspiration in all levels of learner and therefore shared with all children.
Within Literacy lessons, teachers use a range of teaching techniques including modelled, shared and guided reading and writing. Literacy will also be taught through cross-curricular links wherever possible.
At Tower Hill, we value the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. We value the importance of giving children of all ages and abilities the opportunities to take part in a range of speaking and listening activities for different purposes. We also believe that it is vital that teachers model these skills for the children at all times.
We believe that spoken language should be developed in a number of ways:
- Encouraging children to share their ideas and opinions with their peers.
- Teaching children how to respond appropriately to the ideas of others.
- Teaching and encouraging children to work collaboratively.
- Developing a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write.
- Making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others using discussion to probe and remedy their English misconceptions.
- Understanding and using the conventions for discussion and debate.
- Modelling of good speaking and listening skills by all adults around the school but especially teachers and learning support assistants.
- Providing a range of opportunities for children to talk and listen across all curriculum areas.
- Creating opportunities to use ICT to support speaking and listening skills e.g. making video presentations using green screen technology.
- Participating in and gaining knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama.
- Adopting, creating and sustaining a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role.
- Improvising, devising and scripting drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as rehearsing, refining, sharing and responding thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances (see separate Drama Policy).
- Giving children opportunities to take part in class assemblies.
We believe that it is vital for children to learn to read confidently in order for them to become independent learners. We aim to develop a rich reading culture throughout the school through teacher modelling, the well resourced school library, vocabulary rich displays and classroom libraries.
Reading in Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2 consists of two components: word reading and comprehension (both listening and reading). At Tower Hill, we believe it is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both elements and understand that different kinds of teaching are needed for each. Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the quick recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics (through the delivery of Read, Write, Inc) is emphasised in the early teaching of reading to children when they start school. Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.
At Tower Hill Primary School, we strongly believe that reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds. We know that it is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject to be successful in their forthcoming secondary education.
In KS1, teachers/teaching assistants will listen to children read in a dedicated capacity for a minimum of three times a week. For older children, this will be dependent on the specific child and their reading ability but will be at least once a week. Teachers communicate with parents through reading records and the importance of supporting children to read at home is highly promoted.
At Tower Hill Primary School, reading is taught in a number of ways. Children will be given many and varying opportunities for reading which are not restricted to Literacy lessons. These include:
ü Independent Reading
ü Guided Reading
ü Shared Reading
ü Whole Class Reading
All children will have a personal reading book which they will read both in school and at home. This reading book may be a book from a specific reading scheme but for more able, free readers it can be a book chosen from the school or classroom library. Children will have a reading record which can be used to record reading sessions with teachers and parents and can also be used for parents and teachers to communicate.
Guided Reading will be taught as part of planned Literacy lessons in whole class and differentiated ability groups. Guided Reading will take place at least once a week. During these sessions all children will read and respond to a challenging whole class text driver with the teacher supporting. Guided Reading sessions will provide the children with an environment where they can learn and practise their reading and comprehension skills. Sessions need to be carefully planned with clear learning objectives and outcomes in order to develop basic and higher order reading skills.
Shared Reading takes place within the Literacy lesson. The teacher models reading skills and strategies to the whole class as an expert reader. The texts selected for shared reading should be quality texts that reflect the teaching objectives.
Whole Class Reading
This is teacher led reading with the children listening and responding to the text as appropriate. This activity will take place in all classrooms with all children. During whole class reading, children will gain exposure to and experience of a range of genres which they can then apply when choosing books for independent reading. The book chosen for whole class reading should be a book that is aimed slightly above the strongest readers in the class in order to expose all children to a wider range of books than they can access independently. This book could be the whole class text driver or a book in addition to this.
Reading is celebrated across the whole school with a Reading Reward Scheme which is led and managed by the English Leader. The Reward Scheme is progressive, linked to Book bands and used to promote the enjoyment of reading.
We believe that all children, by the end of Year 6, should be able to write independently in a range of genres, for a range of real life purposes. Children should leave primary school as confident, successful writers.
Writing in the Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2 is also split into two components: transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). In addition to developing these two elements, pupils at Tower Hill are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
Writing will be taught and promoted in the following ways:
- All children will be expected to carry out one piece of independent, extended writing each week. This can be within a Literacy lesson or as part of another curriculum area.
- Children will have at least one piece of writing marked in depth each week following the feedback policy so that they know what they have done well and how they can improve further.
- In the Foundation Stage, children’s earliest attempts at writing will be encouraged in order to develop a positive image of themselves as writers.
- A range of real purposes and contexts will be provided for writing.
- Children will be introduced to PALS (Purpose, Audience, Layout, Style) and will be able to refer to this to inform the structure and layout of their written work.
- Children will be taught ISPACE (different sentence starters – ing, simile, preposition, adverb, connective, ed) so that they are able to make informed choices about sentence structure when writing.
- Children will be encouraged to present their work with care, paying increasing attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting as they become more confident and independent writers (see separate Spelling and Handwriting policies).
- Children will be encouraged to proof read and edit their writing in order to make improvements.
- Children will be taught how to plan their writing and encouraged to plan before they write.
Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
At Tower Hill opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, teachers show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. They also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning.
We believe that pupils should be taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English. They should be taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation and ‘language about language’ listed in the National Curriculum. We feel that it is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within all lessons so that pupils become more comfortable with using them. (See separate Spelling Policy).
By the end of each Key Stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the National Curriculum. All class teachers will assess their children both informally and formally throughout each term and report their formal assessments to the English Leader and Assessment Leader at each Milestone data collection point. Class teachers will use a range of assessments including PiRA, Teacher Assessment, Tower Hill Writing Statements, Spelling tests etc to make an informed decision about each child’s progress and attainment. Class teachers will also participate in termly moderation sessions to share work and moderate judgements for reading and writing.
Assessments are used by teachers to evaluate learning and inform teaching and by teachers and senior leaders to evaluate individual and groups of children’s achievements to inform future provision and potentially school development.
Assessment information for English is shared with parents/carers throughout the year, via Performance Cards and Parents’ Evenings, which include information about the next steps for learning in the subject as well as in an End of Year Report which outlines each child’s progress and effort within English.
Assessment in English also includes:
- On-going Assessment for Learning (AfL) practices within class and group sessions, including the sharing of and reference being made to learning objectives and ‘no ceiling’ success criteria, as well as self and peer assessments of understanding, outcomes and progress.
- Marking of children’s work; against the shared learning objective in line with our school expectations (see separate Feedback Policy).
- Half-termly writing assessments (points of Application) which are assessed against the Tower Hill writing statements.
- Assessment in the Foundation Stage includes both on-going assessment and marking of children’s work as noted above but at an age appropriate level. The Early Years Foundation Stage ProTracker is used to assess children throughout and at the end of the academic year.
A comprehensive range of resources is available in school. Every class has a selection of reference books e.g. dictionaries, thesaurus etc. and a class library.
Class Sets of Guided Reading Books have been purchased for each year group from Y2-Y6. There is also a wide selection of books banded according to the Tower Hill Reading Scheme colour codes to suit individual reading needs (see the Tower Hill Reading Scheme document). The school library contains a range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction books.
Teachers will use a wide range of resources for the teaching of English including high quality literary texts, the internet, school library, and resources including film and new technologies.