Aims of the National Curriculum
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.
Inspiring a love of language in both spoken and written forms is crucial for all children. A love of language is a vehicle for learning new things, a microphone for sharing ideas and opinions, a tool for fostering creativity, an outlet for feelings and emotions and is a gateway to the rest of the world. At Chillingham Road, we want to foster a love of language in our children to form roots that lie deep within them, that will support them and will help them grow on their journey through our school and beyond. Our English curriculum focuses around 3 key elements:
- - speaking and listening
- - reading
- - writing
Speaking and listening are an important set of skills that will create the foundation for much of children's further learning. Listening requires the fundamental skill of focusing attention on the speaker to be able to hear and understand what the speaker is saying. Speaking skills require students to take turns, speak confidently, stay on topic, and speak with clarity. We aim to support children to develop speaking and listening skills that allow them to articulately share their thoughts, ideas and opinions and to actively engage in conversations with others. Our English curriculum offers opportunities for children to develop their speaking and listening skills through performing, debating, presenting, storytelling, discussing, reciting, singing and drama.
Competence in reading is the key to independent learning and has a direct effect on progress in all other areas of the curriculum. We want our children to be ‘readers’, not just children who can read. We want to inspire pupils to read widely and deeply and to explore a range of cultures, experiences and opinions. This exploration of literature will support them to not only form their own opinions of the world in which they live, but to develop their empathy and respect for the thoughts and opinions or others.
We wish to instil a curiosity in our children which means they seek to create questions and find answers in the breadth of the texts they read. Through the exposure to a range of texts in our literature spine and beyond, we aim to introduce children to a rich diet of literature that encompasses facts to fantasy, past to present, local to global through the words presented by a broad demographic of authors. By fostering avid readers, we give children the tools to access their own cultural capital and give them the keys to access life-long learning. Embedded into our reading curriculum are opportunities for reading to children, reading with children and reading by children. We believe these three elements are fundamental in securing reading skills in our children.
Alongside their appreciation of reading, we strive to nurture a love of writing. Written communication is vital to our children to ensure they can accurately and eloquently communicate their thoughts and opinions. We ensure children are able to write for a wide range of forms and purposes and develop their own writer’s voice. We aim to support children in moving from dependence to independence in their writing journey so that they become confident writers. Our writing curriculum focuses on developing children’s skills at word level, sentence level and text level so that they fully understand how writing is constructed and how it can impact the reader. Through our writing curriculum, we support children in reflecting on their writing skills and help them develop the skills needed to edit their work for impact and clarity.
Early Reading and Phonics
We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.
We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.
In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.
In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.
To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact. All children have their phonic skills assessed using Phonics Tracker and this allows quick identification of any gaps a child may have.
At Chillingham Road Primary School, we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading, we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics, to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow. Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto our coloured book band scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.
All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will read 1:1 with an adult each week. The book they read will be closely matched to their phonic development and this book will be then taken home to practice. We recognise the value in young children rereading a book several times in order to develop their skills and this is encouraged. The lowest attaining 20% of children are given additional opportunities to read 1:1 over the week. Staff and families record comments on the child’s reading using the Go Read app. This is a shared record of the pupil’s strengths and gaps in phonic skills and allows staff and families to work together to support the child.
Children in Key Stage 2 who have not yet mastered the phonic skills necessary to fluently decode will continue using the Unlocking Letters and Sounds materials to close the gaps in their phonics knowledge. The interventions in the program are key to ensuring these children make the required progress.
Reading in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
Alongside continued work on developing decoding skills using the Unlocking Letters and Sounds resources, children in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 develop their comprehension skills using Reading VIPERS.
VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.
VIPERS stands for
Sequence or Summarise
The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. The VIPERS are used in whole class guided reading sessions. In these sessions, children read and analyse a range of texts from different genres.
The Chillingham Road Literature Spine sets out a range of texts that children will read in different year groups. The aim of this literature spine is to ensure children are exposed to rich and diverse range of texts. Children will explore texts that represent our literary heritage and our diverse global community. These texts include a broad range of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and film. Throughout the school week, staff ensure there are opportunities for all reading with, reading to and reading by children. These opportunities allow children to not only develop their reading skills but also to develop a love reading.
Within each classroom, there is a class library that mirrors the diverse range of texts within the Literature Spine. Children are encouraged and supported to select books to develop their reading habits. All children are given time daily to read and all children in Key Stage are heard 1:1 at least once every 3 weeks. The lowest attaining 20% of children will be heard reading 1:1 at least once per week. Children, families and staff record comments on reading using the Go Read app.
Written outcomes children achieve are enhanced when teachers plan units of learning that are based around sustained exposure to a high quality text/stimulus. This text/stimulus must succeed in capturing children’s interest and sustaining their engagement over an extended time frame. It must excite their imagination and children should be drawn in as they empathise with the story. At Chillingham Road, writing is taught through exploration of texts as stimulus and often this is linked to the class topic question. These texts may be fiction, non-fiction and poetry and also includes opportunities for children to write in response to digital media.
At Chillingham Road we explore four purposes for writing within our writing lessons: writing to inform, writing to entertain, writing to discuss and writing to persuade. There is a whole school overview for text types to ensure there is a wide coverage and clear progression in the varying purposes for writing.
Each half term, teachers produce weekly lesson sequences based around their chosen text, where writing lessons will be carefully planned in roughly 3-4 times a week. Writing lessons could include: drama, SPAG, modelled/guided writing, children drafting independently or in groups, reviewing and editing. There are at least two extended writing opportunities each half term. The grammar objectives outlined in the National Curriculum for English are also mostly taught in the context of the specific quality text being studied. Sometimes grammar might be taught discreetly where appropriate.
Handwriting is taught using the Letterjoin handwriting scheme. In EYFS and KS1 handwriting is taught in short sharp focus lessons four times per week and then once or twice a week in KS2. Handwriting can be taught as a whole class and also in smaller, more focused intervention groups. Individual support for poor handwriting may still be required at KS2 and children who really struggle to acquire a joined cursive script may print if this ensures a more legible handwriting. Handwritten models by adults must adhere to the handwriting scheme and should be of a very high standard at all times.
Spelling is taught both discretely and within every lesson as opportunities arise. In EYFS and Key Stage 1, the discrete lessons are taught using Unlocking Letters and Sounds. In Key Stage 2, discrete spelling lessons are taught using the Spelling Shed scheme. All children are given access to Spelling Shed at home. All staff are expected to model spelling strategies and support children in implementing these strategies across the curriculum.
Oracy is defined as the ability to express oneself fluently and grammatically in speech. Providing opportunities for children to develop their oracy skills is embedded in all lessons and curriculum experiences. Examples of this include the half termly performance poem that each class learns, the regular opportunities children have to contribute to school assemblies and performances, the vocabulary banks and displays used within lessons and the sentence stems modelled during class discussions and debates.
Assessing Writing - No More Marking
Traditional marking and moderation are time-consuming and inaccurate
Marking work accurately is difficult. Moderators standardise the marks, but it’s hard to review more than a tiny fraction of scripts in a typical moderation session, and even agreeing on those is not easy. And the whole process is very time-consuming.
Comparative Judgement assesses open-ended work more reliably than traditional marking
Comparative judgement is a process where judges compare two responses and decide which is better. Following repeated comparisons, the resulting data is statistically modelled and responses placed on a scale of relative quality.
Research has shown the process to be as reliable as double marking, but much quicker.
- One national writing window per year group for Years 1 to 6. Last year every national window attracted over 700 schools and over 30,000 individual writing submissions.
- Stimulating writing tasks for each national window specifically commissioned and designed by a leading children's illustrator.
- As a school we receive national grades for every year group (WTS, EXS, GDS), writing ages and scaled scores which allow you to measure pupil progress.
- Our pupils' writing is silently and reliably moderated by up to 20 other teachers working at other schools.
All of our subjects in school have been broken down into manageable and digestible learning chunks called curriculum priorities. Teaching staff plan all learning from these building blocks and our children reference these in their books at the start of a piece of work.
The reading and writing priorities for each year group will need to be covered multiple times so children can secure the skills necessary to become fluent readers and writers. Curriculum priorities from previous year groups need to be revisited and embedded in all writing and reading work.