English Curriculum Aims:
English skills are essential to accessing all areas of the curriculum in school and opportunities in wider life. We teach English skills built around a carefully selected range of high-quality children’s literature including books from the Power of Reading. We aim to enhance our children’s access to and pleasure in reading and raise achievement through the creative use of literature in the classroom. By the end of Year 6, the children will have experienced a full range of texts during lessons which develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Speaking and Listening
We aim to create confident listeners who have the skills and experience to think critically, discuss their reasoning and express ideas and understanding with clarity.
We strongly believe that listening and speaking skills are the building blocks of English and our access to learning across the curriculum. In order to succeed as thinkers, readers and writers, children need to cultivate a love of words and language and the confidence to explore it.
Pupil participation in talk partners, group and whole class discussion is planned into lessons across the curriculum to facilitate progression in listening and speaking skills themselves as well as to learn through talk. Opportunities to memorise, recite and perform songs, poetry and other composed work are given purpose and planned across the year in assemblies, foundation subject presentations, drama, debate and performances.
Our teaching of reading aims to create fluent and confident readers.
Developing a love of reading is the most powerful attribute that can make a difference to our children’s future attainment. From Foundation Stage to Year 6, the children at Gayhurst experience lessons and a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts which promote a love of books and reading.
Children's pre-phonics skills in active listening are developed through auditory discrimination activities in Nursery. Children are taught to perceive, discriminate, mimic and name sounds in the environment and through conversation, music and enjoying good quality books.
Once basic skills are mastered, in Reception to Year 2 children are taught phonics systematically through the RWI programme (Read Write Inc). Alongside this, children practise further their decoding and comprehension skills in small differentiated groups during Daily Supported Reading (Reception to Year 2) and Destination Reader (Y3-Y6) to further develop higher level reading skills. We assess reading systematically and guide children towards selecting books which develop the range of skills.
Destination Reader (DR) lessons are planned to ignite and foster a love of reading. High quality texts, developing speaking and listening skills, positive learning behaviours and effective partner work are all key features of a DR lesson.
By providing quality reading experiences with a focus on developing thinking, understanding and expression, DR develops depth in reading comprehension. Children learn to predict, infer, question, evaluate, clarify and make connections with increasing efficacy. The learning behaviours that the children develop are: the ability to support and actively listen to others; to discuss and explain ideas; and to take responsibility for one’s own and one’s group’s learning. These are central not only to DR but are transferable across the whole curriculum and are, in fact, great life skills.
Home School Reading
If children read at home, they are more likely to be successful learners at school. To support reading at home, for children in Reception to Year 2, the teacher selects a book at the assessed level for each child. We encourage children to read regularly with their carers’ support and encourage feedback about these reading experiences. Children in the beginning stages of reading also take home a phonically decodable book at a level which supports application of the graphemes they have been taught at school. In this way, parents/carers are also kept informed of the phonics teaching their child is learning.
Once decoding skills are secured, children select a preferred book that is matched to their reading ability. Progress is tracked by the class teacher and through the Accelerated Reader system for years 3 – 6 (see below).
We use the Accelerated Reader resource to support and encourage independent reading. An initial assessment is followed by online quizzes which track success with books read. We are continuously reviewing and adding to our collection of children’s books in the AR system so that stimulating and attractive books are available at the right level.
Representation in Books
At Gayhurst, we have invested in books that are rich, relevant and representative for our curriculum, classrooms and school library. We believe that the love of reading can be nurtured further when children can see themselves, their families and their cultures in the books they read. We have recently adapted our Power of Reading books to ensure wider representation. A full map of our English Curriculum Books can be found below (Power of Reading Curriculum Map).
Here's a selection of some of our new books for reading for pleasure
We aim to develop writers who are confident, creative and have a range of skills needed to express themselves with consideration and clarity.
Writing at Gayhurst develops pupils’ skills in two key areas – composition (articulating ideas and organising them into speech and writing) and transcription (spelling and handwriting).
Writing is always contextualised in the class book or linked to a curriculum subject, giving the children a secure context and purpose for their writing. Pupils are taught key skills of planning, drafting and editing their work, learning to proof-read and improve their own writing, as well as having opportunities to evaluate their writing with peers. Pupils’ stamina for writing is developed through fortnightly extended writing tasks where children have the opportunity to exercise and apply both established and newly-acquired skills.
Grammar and punctuation are taught systematically and explicitly through focused activities within the context of reading and writing. Once familiar with a grammatical concept, pupils explore and apply the concept to their own speech and writing.
Handwriting and spelling
Our children are taught pre-cursive mark formation from Nursery starting with gross and fine motor skills, posture and pencil grip. Following the Letter-join sequence, children begin to learn the pre-cursive strokes required for controlled formation of handwriting. When pupils are ready, they will learn to write in a pre-cursive then continuous cursive style.
As part of our subscription parents and carers can access Letter-Join for free to help children practise at home.
We teach spelling systematically through phonics, memorising common exception words and a focus on words grouped by spelling rule. Exploration of spelling patterns, developing analogy and memorising common rules form parts of our spelling programme.
You can find information about how to support your child with their Reading and Spellings at home (including PDFs of Spellilngs for your child's year group) on the Homework & Book Bags page of this website.