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Russell Lower School

English

Our subject lead for English is Mrs C Johnson.
 
The aims of our English curriculum taken from 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 language, 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
 
Overall English intent

At Russell Lower School we are passionate about the importance of our English Curriculum; we aim to provide our children with a high-quality English education, one that will develop a love of reading, writing and discussion. 

We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts.

We ensure that the children have a secure knowledge base in literacy/English, which follows a clear pathway of progression from Foundation stage to Year Four. Our curriculum follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to develop speaking and listening, reading and writing skills as well as acquisition of vocabulary.

At Russell we believe that the best learning and outcomes come from real life experiences. As part of our English curriculum we regularly have visits from authors from the local and wider community such Tom Palmer and Peter Laws to ensure the pupils are learning from masters of their trade.  Pupils across the school also take part in local writing competitions bringing purpose to their writing. 

World Book Day is celebrated in style and includes dressing up, a whole school author focus, with a plethora of activities and tasks around key texts.  Parents are also invited into school to participate and afternoon teas are served with the parents also being able to enter competitions themed around books.

We further recognise the importance of our parents and carers in supporting their children to develop all areas of English through encouraging a strong home-school partnership. This enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through parent workshops in reading and phonics.

We believe that a secure basis in English skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our pupils the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.

 

Speaking and Listening intent

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives” (Tony Robbins).

At Russell Lower School we are resolute that the pupils will have a clear understanding of the power of the spoken word.  It is our intent is that all pupils should be able to express their opinions, articulate their feelings and listen to and respond appropriately in a range of situations.

Pupils are encouraged and given opportunities to participate within different groups to present their ideas with confidence, valuing the views of others.  They are supported to speak audibly and confidently before an audience, for example within class discussions (hot seating, conscience alley, debates) and in whole school and year group assemblies and performances.

Speaking and Listening implementation 

Teaching and learning within Russell encourages pupils to voice their ideas in small group and class discussions, recognising the importance of sharing and explaining concepts with peers therefore enhancing learning. 

Staff model the use of higher level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus from EYFS.  Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context.  In all subjects, key vocabulary is displayed and discussed. Every year group has a planned ‘word of the week’ where challenging vocabulary is introduced; children learn the word definition, word type and synonyms. They are then expected to apply this knowledge into their work moving forwards.

Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including them in their work.

Daily, (a designated, timetabled slot at 9.00 – 9.20 every morning) individual and group reading sessions encourage children to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words.  Staff model correct grammar in speech and encourage children to reflect this in their use of spoken and written language. 

Drama is used across the curriculum to explore and engage children in their learning.  This gives children the chance to embed vocabulary in shared activities. Children are also given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing regularly. 

Children in Foundation Stage perform a nativity play each Christmas and Year 2 also practise and perform a Christmas production.  This year 90 children preformed "I'm Going To Shine", which every child singing, dancing and speaking. The enjoyment of the children and the quality of the production was praised by the parents. Year 4 rehearse and perform a 'final' end of year performance to the parents in the Summer term.

 

Writing intent

Writing at Russell Lower is a key element within our curriculum so that pupils are able to communicate their ideas and emotions to others effectively

Careful links are made across the curriculum to ensure that pupils’ English writing is relevant and meaningful. Where possible, meaningful links are made within all areas of the curriculum to ensure that writing remains enjoyable, purposeful and challenging. For example, in year 3 pupils write a story about how water is transported in plants for Science, year 2 write a set of Fire Safety instructions in PSHRE and in year 1 pupils become weather reporters for Geography and write their reports before presenting to an audience.

We believe in the importance of pupils seeing the purpose to their writing and developing understanding around how widely writing is used in everyday life and, therefore, how important and useful the skills are that they are learning.

It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their time at Russell Lower, all pupils are able to:

  • write for a purpose
  • regard themselves as writers
  • enjoy all processes of writing from generating ideas to reading aloud their work and are able to organise and plan their written work, adapting and editing where necessary in order to further improve their piece.
  • use fluent, legible and speedy handwriting in a cursive style.
Writing implementation

At Russell Lower School writing is at the heart of everything we do across the curriculum. Our English curriculum has been carefully redesigned since the pandemic focussing on curriculum sequencing to ensure skill progression from lesson to lesson and year to year with a focus on deepening and embedding key learning, knowledge and skills.

We have developed a whole school writing overview, year group curriculum plans and English Medium Term plans in order to support the above and assessment within the subject. Our plans identify when different genres will be taught across the academic year enabling full and balanced coverage as well as opportunities for the children to revisit genres to support progression and deepen knowledge and understanding.

At Russell Lower School writing is evident in every aspect of our curriculum and varying text types are taught throughout the school.  The objectives of the National Curriculum are closely followed to ensure that the skills learnt in spelling, punctuation and grammar are embedded and transferred into writing.

In order to help us develop confident, enthusiastic writers who can express themselves in a variety of different styles and across a variety of contexts lessons are carefully planned, ensuring writing is purposeful, meaningful and that skills are taught, embedded, revisited and then developed in a sequential way which promotes learning and retention of knowledge and skills. We ensure that challenging texts are read and studied, strengthening the link between reading and writing.  In Year two pupils study texts such as ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’ and in Year 4 they study ‘War Horse’.  All our key texts are chosen for their rich vocabulary and to expose children to higher level texts which they may not yet be familiar with. Pupils are given a language rich curriculum and are encouraged and shown how to effectively use interesting and adventurous language in their writing through the use of WAGOLL’s (What a good one looks like,) modelled by the teacher.    

We are passionate about giving children opportunities to apply the skills they learn in writing lessons to other areas of curriculum and implement these opportunities into the other subject planning.  Some examples of this are; in year 1 in History the children sequence and retell the events of 5th November ‘Guy Fawkes’, in Year 2 children write poems and instructions in R.E, Year 3 create an information text on light and in Year 4 children act out then write a diary of the digestive system in Science.

Marking is rigorous in English and across the curriculum. The children know what they have done well (highlighted in green) and what they need to do make their work even better (highlighted in orange). Teachers mark children’s work alongside them giving them instant verbal feedback which they can then use to consolidate and move their writing to the next level. 

 
Writing documents

 

Spelling and Grammar intent

At Russell Lower School we ensure that our pupils have curiosity and an understanding of the meaning of language.

We ensure pupils feel equipped to understand the evolving English language and take joy in applying and understanding punctuation rules. We value the importance of our pupils acquiring a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and being able to spell new words effectively by applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time with us. 

Spelling and Grammar implementation 

At Russell Lower School we strive to ensure that our pupils are equipped to apply their curiosity and understanding of the English language across the curriculum. We have redesigned and recently adapted our English planning to ensure skill progression from lesson to lesson and year to year with a focus on deepening and embedding their knowledge and skills.  At Russell we follow appendix 2 of the English National Curriculum ensuring full coverage of key learning and skills.

Children are taught grammar and punctuation in a weekly English lesson which they are expected to apply to their work across the curriculum. 

Children write out their weekly spellings daily and are expected to learn them at home ready for a weekly spelling test.  Additionally spelling is taught daily across the school.  Children who need additional support with spelling receive a variety of interventions that are tailored to address their individual needs and gaps.

 
Long term phonics/spelling and VGP plan
 
Handwriting documents
 
Example of an English medium term plan
Impact

Through the teaching of writing we aim for the children to enjoy writing across a range of genres, that they can write for a range of purposes and audiences and become confident and effective communicators.

By encouraging and equipping our children with the right skills to be inquisitive and passionate about the written word, they amass a rich and varied vocabulary that they can use across the curriculum. All children are familiar with the word of the week and are eager to use it in their written work.  Dictionary skills are used to check and to expand their vocabulary. They enjoy thesaurus’s to up level their work.  

As all aspects of English are an integral part of the wider curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred to others subjects, showing a consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammatical concepts. In year 2 children have applied their non-fiction writing skills to a piece of work about Kenya.  In year 4 children use their knowledge of instruction writing in history to write instructions to make a crumble dish in their d.t lessons. 

In order to measure the impact of our writing we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning

  • Pupil, parent, staff voice/questionnaires

  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins

  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in writing as well as indicating areas for development. 

Further to this there are regular moderation sessions with other schools and the local Middle School as well as staff development meetings dedicated to both training and also moderation in order to continually improve practice. 

Children at Russell Lower School are proud of their work but most importantly by the time our children leave us at the end of year 4 they have developed a love of writing and are well equipped for the rest of their education. They have written for a wide range of purposes and have experience of different formats such as writing letters (including addressing an envelope correctly) in year four and year 2 thanking their hosts for a fantastic visits.

Academic outcomes and impact:

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for writing and reading.

The average ARE+ for all year groups is 80% which is 3% higher than last year, showing the success of the whole school writing objective.