English at Westminster
Lead: Debbie Elliott
Team: Emma Barr (Phonics and Early Reading), Ben King
At Westminster Primary Academy, we aim to foster a love of english in all children through reading, writing and speaking and listening. We believe that developing a love of language is vital in achieving success at school and in the future. We teach ‘english’ lessons daily across the whole school with work closely matched to children’s needs although it is also incorporated into other lessons in the day.
Reading / Phonics:
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’. Our children for the most part access ‘Bug Club’ for home reading as this enables them to have easy online access and develops comprehension skills while reading through the online quizzes that accompany the books.
In Early Years and Year 1, as well as Bug Club, we have a phonics first approach to reading and our children have access to a wide variety of phonics only based books until they reach Year 2 when we then encourage children to use a wider variety of reading skills. We also have access to ‘Rapid Online Reading’ and ‘PM Readers’ for children who need additional support with their reading.
Phonics lessons are taught in small groups for 20 mins everyday in early years and Key Stage 1 teaching from a systematic programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’.
In Key Stage 2, we teach reading through the ‘Pearson Bug Club’ guided reading programme. This reciprocal reading approach allows children to explore exciting texts, both independently and within guided sessions allowing our learners to build up their confidence. We celebrate individual success through our use of weekly and half termly competitions.
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 to practise the spellings through spelling games or apps. Children are then asked to practise these same spellings as part of their homework. 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.
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 in handwriting lessons will be used in all writing activities. Children are given a handwriting pen to write with once they reach Year 3
At Westminster Primary Academy, we inspire our children to become independent, confident writers. The children are immersed in and are taught the features of different fiction and non fiction writing genres in every year group. The children, particularly in reception and Key Stage 1, use ‘Talk for Writing’ strategies to aid their writing - including story mapping to help them retell stories and plan and write their own. In lessons, children are given a wide range of opportunities in which to develop their writing skills including spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammar skills which are taught alongside the work on specific genres and texts. Where possible, our writing lessons are based around a ‘hook’, a ‘topic’ or a ‘book’ and therefore we encourage writing that has a purpose and links to other curriculum areas.
Speaking and Listening:
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 have a ‘Speech, Language and Communication Needs’ team of staff who are working on different initiatives, training and raising the profile of this area as well as working with other professionals to gain advice and strategies. In class, 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.