English


English at Westminster 

SLT Lead: Debbie Elliott

KS2 English Lead: Ben King 

Early Reading Lead: Emma Barr

 

Overview

At Westminster Primary Academy, we aim to build a love and confidence of english in all children through communication, reading, writing and speaking and listening.  We believe that developing a love of reading and language is vital in achieving success at school and in the future. As often as possible, english lessons will have a ‘book led’ focus which supports our determination to foster a love of reading. We teach discrete english lessons daily and on top of this, we teach handwriting, guided reading, spellings and phonics and also incorporate english skills into ALL curriculum areas.  

This year, we have been so lucky to have had a beautiful, modern and inspiring library area and library system installed at Westminster Primary Academy and are confident that this will help inspire an ethos of reading for pleasure and help children choose books and reading materials that they enjoy. 

This current academic year, we are working towards gaining our whole school  ‘Communication Friendly Settling’ accreditation through ELKLAN and working on a Reading for Pleasure Project. 

Year 4 are currently working on a 3 year project with the Blackpool Grand Theatre where they will be linking the Blackpool Resilience Framework to different texts in a creative and fun way. They will also be watching Gangster Granny at the Theatre and eventually creating their own plays which they will be performing at a celebration event at the Blackpool Grand Theatre!

Reading: 

Children have access to a variety of reading schemes to help them develop confidence and enjoyment in reading. Our three main schemes are ‘Oxford Reading Tree’, ‘Big Cat Collins’ and ‘Pearson’s Bug Club’. These schemes offer us a breadth of genre, interest and subject matter.

Children access ‘Bug Club’ online for home reading.  This enables children to have books long enough to reread for fluency.  Its online quizzes help us to monitor their understanding of their reading and this is regularly monitored by staff to ensure children are reading appropriate levels of texts.  This system also supports our readiness for distance learning (when needed) as staff can manage children learning remotely.  Children's engagement, success and access is monitored and rewarded regularly in school.

In EYFS and year 1, we have a ‘phonics first’ approach to reading and our children have access to a wide variety of phonically decodable books in school that match their daily phonics lessons.  When the children have secured their letters and sounds we then encourage children to transition to a wider variety of reading books that can broaden their skills and strategies, this is usually in year 2. 

We use  ‘Rapid Online Reading’, ‘PM Readers’ and additional phonics sessions to  support the lowest 20% of readers.  We also ensure that the lowest 20% have more 1:1 reading time in school and interventions where necessary in order to keep up.

For home, each year group will support parents by sending home guidance or by posting videos on ‘Class Dojo’ to help parents understand phonics and deliver it to their children at home. Children have regular personalised reading practice from our phonics tracker program.  Children received personalised plans to develop their confidence in sounds they have been taught.

           

 

English skills underpin the whole of the EYFS curriculum with communication, language and early reading being at the forefront of our learning and planning journeys. There are specific english and communication areas in which children are assessed in the early years. Where children are not working at expected standard in these areas, interventions will be put into place in order for children to start KS1 as confidently as they can.  

Listening and Attention:

 In EYFS, we encourage listening skills in various ways such as by reading to the class, or getting them to play in roleplay areas. When listening, we ask the children to pick out the key information. For example, asking them if they can predict or remember what happens next, or how the story ends. In their learning and play we are looking for whether the children contribute appropriately, and whether they can sustain attention, despite any distractions.

Assessing understanding involves asking children ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions and deciding how much they’ve grasped the concept, action or idea. We try to look for when children  attempt to reason something, or expand on an idea or concept already presented to them. We try and encourage children to ask questions about the world around them, as well as try to answer these themselves, through deliberation or physical exploration.

Speaking:

In EYFS it is vital that children are able to successfully articulate themselves so that they can form their own narratives and explanations. Staff ask simple and more complex questions and then model and encourage them to answer in full sentences using new vocabulary they have learnt. We look to see if children can order their ideas and whether or not they can talk about the events in the past, present and future.

Reading: 

Within the EYFS, children should be able to understand and read simple sentences. They should be able to decode unknown words using a phonic based approach. A great way to support your child would be to regularly read their Bug Club books together and to practice their target words and sounds that are sent home.

Writing: 

In the EYFS, the aim is for children to be able to spell words phonetically, using sounds that they know and spelling some words correctly. Their writing should start to become legible and understandable, not only for themselves, but others also. They should also be able to spell some irregular, yet common words.  We ensure that writing tasks are incorporated into all learning areas in the department. 

Being imaginative: 

Within this area, we put an emphasis on children being able to express themselves and their ideas and being able to show originality in their spoken and written ideas as well as starting to express their own ideas through music, art, role play, and making up stories.

 

Reading at Westminster Primary Academy:

Children have access to a variety of reading schemes to help them develop confidence and enjoyment in reading. Our three main schemes are ‘Oxford Reading Tree’, ‘Big Cat Collins’ and ‘Pearson’s Bug Club’. These schemes offer us a breadth of genre, interest and subject matter.

Children access ‘Bug Club’ online for home reading.  This enables children to have books long enough to reread for fluency.  Its online quizzes help us to monitor their understanding of their reading and this is regularly monitored by staff to ensure children are reading appropriate levels of texts.  This system also supports our readiness for distance learning (when needed) as staff can manage children learning remotely.  Children's engagement, success and access is monitored and rewarded regularly in school.

In EYFS and year 1, we have a ‘phonics first’ approach to reading and our children have access to a wide variety of phonically decodable books in school that match their daily phonics lessons.  When the children have secured their letters and sounds we then encourage children to transition to a wider variety of reading books that can broaden their skills and strategies, this is usually in year 2. 

We use  ‘Rapid Online Reading’, ‘PM Readers’ and additional phonics sessions to  support the lowest 20% of readers.  We also ensure that the lowest 20% have more 1:1 reading time in school and interventions where necessary in order to keep up.

For home, each year group will support parents by sending home guidance or by posting videos on ‘Class Dojo’ to help parents understand phonics and deliver it to their children at home. Children have regular personalised reading practice from our phonics tracker assessment.  Children received personalised plans to develop their confidence in sounds they have been taught.

Phonics at Westminster Primary Academy:

Phonics lessons at Westminster are taught in small groups daily in EYFS and KS1 following a systematic phonics programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’.  At Westminster we have a robust teaching program that we have designed to follow letters and sounds and to meet the needs of the children in our school.  Teachers use the same strategies, teaching approaches and resources to ensure that the children have consistency. Our reading books are fully decodable, support the program and allow the children to progress as they read books that match their phonics ability and what they have been taught. 

Children are regularly assessed so that we know children's next steps and can ensure they keep up with our teaching program.  This is supported by our ‘phonics tracker’ assessment tool.

We have in place a systematic intervention program to support our lowest readers to keep up with their learning that works alongside and matches all systems, resources and strategies they receive in their phonics lessons.

Guided Reading at Westminster Primary Academy: 

In Key Stage 1, guided reading sessions are conducted as a whole class using the Pearson ‘Bug Club comprehension’ texts. Teachers use this program to support them as they will model and teach different strategies for effective and fluent reading and comprehension. 

We use the ‘Pawsome Gang’  , a reading vipers approach, to teach the children different comprehension skills such as predictions, summarisations, sequencing, retrieval and inference.

In Key Stage 2, the Pearson ‘Bug Club’ guided reading programme is used. This reading approach allows children to explore exciting texts, both independently and within guided sessions allowing our learners to build up their confidence and skills such as inference in reading.

                

Spelling at Westminster Primary Academy:

Every week, each year group has access to a weekly spelling rule taken from the National Curriculum. The children are taught this rule and are given time and different activities to practise the spellings at home and in school. The children are tested on the word list on a Monday (baseline test) and are given a score. Then they are tested on the same words on a Friday after learning the words all week and are rewarded for attitude and improvement. 

 

 

Vocabulary at Westminster Primary Academy:

We use ‘Word Aware’ to plan for and teach new vocabulary linked to our topics and key texts. We make sure that children are secure on their ‘Anchor Words’ and then we plan and teach children their ‘Goldilocks’ words (pitched ‘just right’)  for their year group. These are probably the most important words to learn and revisit as these tier two words will be needed to make sense of the topic / text. We also plan for ‘Step On’ words which are complex words that need explaining but are unlikely to be encountered regularly afterwards. 

 

Handwriting at Westminster Primary Academy:

At Westminster Primary Academy we follow the ‘Penpals for Handwriting’ scheme of work. This is a consistent scheme that has been tried and tested in schools and is proven to drive up handwriting standards. It is split into developmental phases which provide clear progression for primary children. We aim for our children to leave in Year 6 with the ability to write using their own style of fast, fluent and legible handwriting. In addition to teaching handwriting during discrete handwriting lessons, we have high expectations that what is taught and applied during these lessons will also be applied in all writing.

 

Writing at Westminster Primary Academy:

At Westminster Primary Academy, we inspire our children to become independent, confident, fluent and proficient writers. We have started implementing Jane Considine’s ‘The Write Stuff’ as a consistent approach to teaching writing across the school. All of her units are based around high quality, age related inspiring texts. In these units, the children are immersed in and are taught the features of different fiction, poetry and non fiction writing genres, as well as using colour coordinated consistent symbols across the school to help children make sense of all the wow features that make up different pieces of writing. Children are prepared for the planning and independent writing process because teachers more carefully and explicitly model and scaffold the ideas, grammar and techniques of the writing process through ‘ short learning ‘chunks’ within the ‘Sentence Stacking’ and ‘Experience' lessons. 

As a school, particularly in reception and Key Stage 1, we continue to use some ‘Talk for Writing’ strategies to aid their writing - including story mapping / actions to help retell stories and plan and write their own. We also use specific approaches such as ‘Colourful Semantics’ to help children structure simple sentences. 

In other lessons, children are given a wide range of opportunities in which to develop their writing skills including spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammar skills. Where possible, our English units / texts are linked to current topics and therefore we encourage writing that has a purpose and links to other curriculum areas.

Speaking and Listening at Westminster Primary Academy:

At Westminster Primary Academy, we believe that talking / communication is vital for all learning. This is currently an area of great importance at our school and we are currently working on gaining our ‘Communication Friendly Setting’ status through ELKLAN. This can only be achieved if ALL staff in school are trained on the basic principles of ‘Communication Counts’ and apply these into their everyday work with children. In class and around school, children are encouraged to speak clearly, confidently in full grammatical sentences to communicate their needs and thoughts as well as to actively listen to others. Children are given opportunities in all areas of the curriculum to develop these skills in paired, group or whole class situations including through role play, small world or drama activities. Extra support is given to children with speech, language and communication needs and english as an additional language. Speaking and listening is supported by our talk boost intervention programs in Reception and KS1 and our ‘word aware’ strategies.

English Coverage 2021-22

English National Curriculum Programmes of Study