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Our English Curriculum

Intent

At Kaizen we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. English has a pre-eminent place in education and society and a high-quality English education will ensure the development of fluency in all areas of English; speaking, listening, reading and writing. This is especially important due to the needs of our children, many of whom have limited preschool reading and writing experience, a lack of literary culture at home and poor spoken language skills. 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 and genres. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to be able to use discussion to communicate and further their learning. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.

Implementation

All staff create a love of writing and a culture of speaking and listening within their classrooms alongside teaching the necessary skills for children to become proficient and confident writers. Our English curriculum is mapped in detail to ensure the consistency of content and teaching approaches; as well as setting clear expectations for each year group. This includes an overview of core texts, genres, language features and skill and knowledge progression for each area of the curriculum. Our whole school approach to the teaching and learning of English involves the following:

-Clear leadership of English which provides all staff with high quality CPD opportunities through workshops, clear planning guidance and templates, in-class modelling and team teaching. Monitoring of planning, teaching and outcomes ensures the consistency of approach and correct pitch for each year group. 

-Clear documentation is given to all staff which outlines the progression of skills and outcomes in grammar and punctuation, speaking and listening, spelling, handwriting and writing composition to ensure the consistency of teaching across all phases from early mark-making in EYFS through to extended writing in Upper Key Stage 2. This ensures staff understand and are confident with how the progression of writing skills works as a continuation of development. 

-We believe that reading and writing are inextricably linked. Through our reading curriculum, we focus on using high quality texts to provide exposure to a wide range of literature which develops children’s understanding of narrative, language and knowledge of the wider world; this enables them to apply this understanding to their own writing.

-Wherever possible, children should be given the opportunity to write based on their real-life experiences, as this will ensure they have the schema to support high quality writing.

-The Talk for Writing approach is used, particularly in EYFS and Key Stage 1, to enable children to build their understanding of this relationship between reading and writing; and their ability to become confident storytellers and writers. Teaching is focused on developing pupils’ competence in all areas of the English curriculum; understanding that different kinds of teaching are needed for each, but that all strands of the curriculum support one another and should be taught in conjunction as well as through discrete sessions. High quality phonics teaching is used across the school, particularly in EYFS and KS1 to ensure the underpinning notion that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. High quality phonic work is our prime approach to teaching early writing; we have developed a highly skilled team of practitioners that ensure all children meet their full potential for phonic knowledge and early mark making skills. This approach has led to well above national outcomes in phonics. We ensure that phonic work is a continued part of our approach throughout the key stages, particularly for those who need further consolidation of their phonetic knowledge to support their spelling. Children develop both the confidence and skills in speaking and listening through planned learning opportunities across the curriculum including drama, group discussions, poetry and role play. It is important that children are exposed to a language rich environment, with appropriate and expressive speech modelled by staff at all times, as many begin their educational journey at Kaizen with difficulties expressing themselves orally and spoken language is an intrinsic part of the writing process.

Components of the teaching of English

Literacy-based subjects make up a large part of each year group’s timetable ensuring sufficient weekly coverage of the following areas:

Reading: (See Reading Curriculum Statement for a detailed outline on how the teaching of reading and reading for pleasure  is implemented across the school through shared reading, independent reading, reading lessons and book borrowing.)

Handwriting: Handwriting sessions are taught using our own Kaizen handwriting curriculum which ensures a consistent progression of handwriting skills throughout EYFS-6. In EYFS there is a focus on pre-writing skills to develop fine motor skills before moving on to the formation of recognisable letters..

Spelling: To be a successful writer, children need to be able to spell accurately. High-quality phonics work ensures that children know the relationships between sounds and letters; this is the prime approach to spelling in EYFS and Year 1 but all year groups use phonics-based activities during spelling sessions to ensure this knowledge is secure. Children in Years 2-6 engage in daily spelling lessons which focus on the teaching of spelling conventions, common exception words and morphological knowledge through a recap, teach, practise, apply, assess cycle.

Grammar and punctuation: Grammar and punctuation is taught in context through the studying of specific features in core texts, this is built upon with short, discrete grammar activities during English lessons to ensure children’s ability to recall grammar and punctuation knowledge.

English: Daily English lessons provide children with an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned across the English curriculum as described above. English lessons are based on the study and enjoyment of high-quality texts and follow a three phase structure: reading as readers, reading as writers and writing as writers. All literacy based lessons should follow the review-practise-teach-apply four part lesson structure to ensure retainment and progress and should also employ the I do, We do, You do strategy to ensure an effective transition from modelling to independent learning. We understand that children have missed opportunities of learning because of the COVID outbreak and the resulting distance and blended learning models that were used in the previous school years. Our current teaching model ensures that any missed opportunities are addressed before teaching new concepts and topics. This pre-teaching approach ensures that children are able to access the new learning and build upon their knowledge and skills. Aspects of the English curriculum are embedded in learning within the provision of SEND learning to ensure that all children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Themes are planned throughout the year that allow for reading, writing , speaking and listening skills and knowledge to be embedded and built upon. Children with high levels of need have a broad curriculum offer, linking into National Curriculum themes, but with scaffolded learning which meets their needs, ensuring they are also making good progress from their initial starting points.

Impact

The successful approach at Kaizen results in a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas. Every child will speak, listen, read and write confidently and fluently. They will be sufficiently equipped with the literacy skills they need for their secondary education and future lives. 

Please click here to see the subject overview for English.

Reading for pleasure

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