At Gifford we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching across all subjects. For pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through primary education.
We aim to provide all children with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in all genres of writing, in order to allow pupils to be well-rounded authors. Through the use of deconstruction of texts, purposeful grammar lessons and shared writing, we demonstrate the writing process so pupils learn the journey from gathering ideas, planning, drafting, editing and publishing.
We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. We view reading and writing as being interlinked. Reading is a stepping stone to great writing by helping expand children’s vocabulary and demonstrating different ways of using words.
We have a well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to:
● develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
● gain a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of language conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
● 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
At Gifford, we have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework, which provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. When planning English lessons, teachers make links to other areas of the curriculum to ensure that cross curricular links provide further context for learning. Teaching blocks focus on fiction, non-fiction or poetry, in line with the 2014 National Curriculum and comprehension, grammar and writing are embedded in lessons. Lessons sequences themselves build progressively towards an extended piece of writing.
Each class’s timetable is organised to enable weekly access to the library, with an up to date selection of books to provide quality reading materials for all children to promote reading for enjoyment.
Assessment for Learning is embedded in English lessons and children are active in reviewing the successes in their work and identifying, with support from their teacher, target areas for development to ensure a continuous and individualised approach to improving their work.
At Gifford, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can. We run intervention reading and writing groups. Teachers plan and teach English lessons which are differentiated to the particular needs of each child.
An overview of writing in Gifford Primary:
Outcomes of work in English demonstrate the high quality of work and the impact of varied and cross curricular writing opportunities. These enable children to write across a range of forms and adapt their writing successfully, considering the purpose.
Handwriting begins in the E.Y.F.S with mark-making and patterns. All pupils are given access to a wide range of writing tools and mediums to practise the early fine motor skills.
We believe that discrete handwriting sessions where children’s formation and pencil grip can be readily overseen, should take place at least once a week. Correct posture and positioning of paper or books are also emphasised during these sessions.
Staff use resources from Nelson Handwriting Scheme to teach individual letter joins with the cursive style. Teachers across the school follow a clear scheme of progression. As the children move up through the school they are encouraged to think carefully about the presentation of their work and to develop clear, legible and fluent hand-writing. Once in KS2, children are eligible for a handwriting pen after they have demonstrated they are able to form and join letters correctly.
We follow the ‘CollinsConnect’ programme for spelling, which provides children with the opportunity to recap on the previous year’s spelling patterns, and then introduces new patterns, sight words and homophones and homographs. This programme is in line with the National Curriculum for spelling.
Each week children (Years 2-6) are given spellings for homework and they are tested on them in the following week. The focus spelling pattern is taught in a weekly discrete spelling lesson.
How to help at home
There are lots of ways you can help your child with writing. Here are our top ideas:
Read, read, read...
The best activity to improve writing is reading. Through reading, students see a variety of authors’ techniques that they can use in their own writing. Regular reading is a stepping stone to better writing and helps children strengthen their writing skills. It helps expand children’s vocabulary and shows them different ways of using words. This also makes it easier for them to use these words in their own writing.
While your child will have some favourite books and types of book that they’ll want to listen to again and again, try to make sure they get to hear a range of different types of books, including fiction and non-fiction. This is useful for their writing because it models lots of language styles.
Have your child to read to you
Making time to hear your child read isn’t just good for their reading. Seeing words in print helps them to understand the words, to spell them, and to see how grammar and punctuation are used to make meaning. When you read, occasionally talk about why the author has decided to include something and how they written it. For example: ‘I wonder why the author has chosen to describe the castle as “gloomy”?
Try some real-world writing
Writing for a real purpose can be a great way to fit in some practice. Writing cards, shopping lists, or letters/emails to relatives can be motivating real life reasons for writing, and can show children how useful it is to be able to write well. Helping children make the connection between writing and the “real” world will increase an interest in writing.
Talking to your child
Talk with your child regularly and ask a lot of questions. Conversations help develop skills like choosing words, expressing ideas, and reflecting on experiences. Instead of yes-no questions (like “Did you have a good day at school today?”), ask open ended questions (like “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?”). Talk with your child about places you visit, work you do, books you read, or television programs you watch together.
Create a writing space
Set aside a little corner in your house that is completely devoted to writing. This should be an area that is quiet and well lit. Having an area dedicated solely to writing will help free your child from distractions so they can focus on practicing writing skills. Stock the “writing centre” with supplies such as paper, pencils, crayons, markers, pens, or other writing instruments at home.
Celebrate your child's writing
Celebrate your child's writing by hanging their work in places where it is visible to all. Knowing that writing is important will go a long way toward motivating them to write more. You will be telling your child that her writing is important and worthy of being shared. They will want to write more and more. Emphasize your child’s successes. For every error your child makes, there are a dozen things done well. Resist the tendency to focus only on errors of spelling, punctuation, and other mechanical parts of writing.