English

The skills of language – spoken and written – are the tools with which we express ourselves and understand others. Without these skills, every aspect of life is far more challenging. At Sayes Court, we promote high levels of English learning in order to provide our pupils with the tools that they need in order to communicate effectively with others, sharing their ideas and emotions, exploring those of people around them and developing culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

The English curriculum is divided into three key areas: reading, writing and speaking and listening. Our lessons always aim to have a blend of these skills, as we believe that good English learning happens when these skills are used to support and complement each other.

Reading

Reading skills are split into two areas: being able to actually read the words (decoding) and understanding what you have read (comprehension). When teaching decoding skills, we use the Letters and Sounds programme to deliver synthetic phonics teaching. Although this is predominantly in the infant year groups, children further up the school who require phonics sessions receive these in small groups.

Comprehension skills are taught in daily guided reading sessions. This is where children work in small groups with a carousel of activities. They work with an adult at least once a week and are taught specific comprehension skills around a shared book, they complete independent written comprehension tasks and also improve their skills through reading games and Bug Club sessions. Each pupil in our school has a Bug Club membership, which they may use at home or at school, and this provides them with a library of e-books and suitable comprehension questions.

Writing

Writing is a complex discipline which requires many skills in order for it to be successful: handwriting, spelling, grammar and imagination all play a part. Handwriting skills are taught in a separate lesson and our English books are designed to support the children with their handwriting as they work. Spelling is also taught in a separate lesson and spelling skills are a focus when writing is marked. With the introduction of grammar tests in years 2 and 6, grammar lessons are taught but the skills in these sessions are often linked with the writing currently taking place.

In order to promote high level writing, each class works from a model text. This is simply a book or video that will engage and inspire the children, as well as modelling good language. The children then write different types of texts with this as a basis. For example, they may retell a story from another character’s point of view, write about the events as a newspaper article or write a diary entry.

Speaking and listening

We encourage our pupils to develop their speaking and listening in variety of ways as we believe that if children cannot share their ideas verbally, then they will find writing even more challenging. We provide children with opportunities to explore stories through role play and drama activities such as freeze frames and conscience alley. We also embed ‘Talk for Learning’ strategies in all our lessons which support children to share their ideas using a variety of structures.