Our English curriculum is aligned to the National Curriculum programmes of study and appropriate aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Units of learning are delivered through the three main strands, which are:
Non – Fiction
Within each of the themes, each unit is constructed similarly to those for reading, with a focus on:
transcription (spelling and handwriting)
composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in oral and written form)
In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
Interwoven regularly, throughout each unit of study and individual lesson plan, is a plethora of general speaking and listening activities, as well as tailored opportunities for communication and language skill development. For example: Pupils are encouraged through role play, practical tasks and carefully planned activities in the continuous provision (EYs - both indoor and outdoor) to orally retell familiar tales – with a 3-part story structure – beginning, middle and end. Songs and rhymes play a significant role in the EYs and nurturing this is the most key factor in developing good communicators and readers, who will eventually become good writers.
Here, at St. Stephen’s, we recognise that communication and language is the bedrock of an effective curriculum and essentially is the skill needed to enable children to access and develop in any of the seven areas. As communication and language is key to any child’s educational, personal and social success, staff ensure that our curriculum promotes 5 key aspects:
an enabling and stimulating environment where high quality, language rich discussions can take place,
carefully planned and executed activities/tasks which provide our pupils with the opportunity to practise using new vocabulary through a wide range of adult directed tasks,
independently interact with their peers and adults applying newly taught vocabulary in context specific tasks (child initiated),
opportunities for risk taking and exploring new language and language structure – both orally and in written form,
reading for pleasure is habitual and led by adults in class and independently encouraged by pupils.
Our hope is that as pupils transition from EYFS to KS1, they are equipped and fully prepared for their next stage of learning, having a sound grasp on language, having developed a wide repertoire of vocabulary and an ability to utilise this language effectively. In doing so, this will enable all pupils to access a more formalised curriculum in KS1, KS2 and beyond.
Talk for Writing
The main vehicle, which drives the delivery of our English curriculum is, Talk for Writing; an approach which is embedded throughout the school, from Nursery to Year 6. The Talk for Writing teaching model is an approach to teaching writing that encompasses a three-stage pedagogy: imitation, innovation and invention. Each stage aims to improve our pupils’ writing ability by giving them an understanding of the structure and elements of written language.
Talk for Writing, coupled with carefully planned provision, ensures that a rigorous approach to embedding and developing language is always at the forefront when planning or delivering any activity, particularly in early years setting, but within both KS1 and KS2, too.
Approaching our English curriculum in this way, ensures that teachers gradually introduce concepts (grammar/vocabulary/spelling rules etc), as opposed to overloading lessons and trying to master a concept or topic all at once. Concepts or subjects are revisited over time and reinforced at the beginning of the unit or lesson. It’s recurring or cyclical nature, ensures that pupils have many opportunities to revisit, revise and learn new skills/knowledge which increases in complexity throughout each unit of study and throughout the academic year.
Fiction - writing
For example: Within the Early Years setting, pupils are exposed to a wide range of cumulative tales and rhyming songs/texts. This embeds basic story language and structure. As the EYs pupils progress into Key Stage One, a range of text genres are introduced such as: portal, journey and adventure tales, thus, exposing pupils to differing story text structures, core grammatical and story language as well as exposure to ambitious vocabulary. Within Key Stage One (primarily Year 1), pupils will have the opportunity to revisit cumulative tales through their guided reading and later Talk for Writing units. In doing so, we provide pupils the opportunity to revisit prior learning and overlearn, forge strong and authentic links with current learning and it ultimately provide a catalyst for new learning.
Non – Fiction – writing
Our Non-Fiction writing curriculum has been divided into subcategories which provide children with the knowledge and understanding of all possible features of a range of non-fiction texts.
The non-fiction units of study are intricately linked to the fiction writing curriculum. The purpose of our writing curriculum is to ensure that pupils can write accurate and well-structured texts, include ambitious sentence structures and a wide range of vocabulary for a range of audiences and purposes. Therefore, in English lessons, pupils will be taught the skill of how to write in a particular style or genre, rather than spend several lessons researching the content for a report or fact file. Much of the learning sequence will be focusing on developing core writing skills as opposed to finding out facts about the River Nile for a project based on Ancient Egypt. Pupils then focus their attention on writing a clear, coherent and well –structured piece of writing as they will draw upon their associated knowledge taught in earlier unit of work.
As pupils reach KS2, they are introduced to a range of increasingly difficult text types, however, the foundations have been laid in Early Years and KS1 - embedding the key elements to support the next stage of their writing journey. For example – Instructional writing naturally progresses onto a more in-depth explanation text. As the pupils have been taught this in a range of contexts and topics, the pupils will be able to draw associated knowledge and build on their next layer of learning.
Progression documents ensure key learning is identified within each unit covered and, as part of our spiral approach, supports teachers in accurately referencing prior learning and next steps. Units of learning are carefully planned and sequenced, so pupils have opportunities to acquire and apply both skills and knowledge.