English is a unique subject, playing an integral part in all other subject areas. Taught as both a discreet lesson and in a cross-curricular dimension, it provides our children with endless, exciting opportunities to explore and develop their linguistic and literary skills whilst making personal progress as part of a positive whole-school approach. At Acre Hall, English is part of the English and Humanities team. We aim to celebrate the written and spoken word through a wide variety of events throughout the year, including National and International Poetry Days, World Book Day, class assemblies, choral speaking, acting and drama, Christmas plays and the Book Fair.
In Early years we place great emphasis on developing children’s speech through a story-rich environment, together with lots of opportunities for children to engage in sensory, fine-motor and gross-motor activities in preparation for writing. We believe in the importance of talking for writing and giving children opportunities to write for a purpose. Through adult-directed shared story writing, such as ‘Helicopter stories’, we aim to teach children to progress from shared and guided writing with adults to self-initiating their own independent writing. We share texts daily and promote stories that embed rhythm and rhyme and have repetitive refrains. We follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics in Nursery and Reception. Through enhancements in our continuous provision, we encourage children to develop their characteristics of learning by challenging themselves to practise and apply their learning in phonics. Children are encouraged to make phonetic attempts to decode words when reading and to segment words when spelling.
In KS1 we are guiding children toward independence. We believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. Through the thematic-based English curriculum, we help children to develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language and equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners. KS1 is the initial stage in encouraging children to become independent readers and writers. Phonics is taught discretely throughout every lesson in KS1. Letters and sounds units are taught formatively each day and streamed throughout KS1 where children are placed in small groups according to their developing phonics stage. There is a fully equipped writing and reading area in each classroom to encourage children to develop their skills independently.
In KS2, children build upon the skills they have learned in both Early Years and KS1 and move towards greater independence in both reading and writing. They are encouraged to use a rich vocabulary in their writing which they are exposed to through a wide range of genres and high-quality texts. Grammar and spelling rules are taught discretely and children begin to embed these in their independent writing. We run an after-school Film Club for KS2 pupils which provides opportunities for children to discuss themes and language, thus building their vocabulary. We use Accelerated Reader to ensure pupils are accessing books at the appropriate reading level and interest level for their ability. We foster a love of books in all our children and believe that inside every child is a writer of great worth.