Our English Curriculum
At Mount Pleasant Primary School all children have access to opportunities
for speaking, listening, reading, writing, spelling, phonics and grammar through
daily English lessons. Our lessons are delivered by making each session as fun
and as hands on as possible and by using a range of resources such as video clips,
artefacts, newspapers, photographs and ICT! Our children are then encouraged to
use their skills in English across the whole curriculum which are linked to our topics.
Our children are encouraged to read at home at least three times a week for ten minutes to develop their reading skills and to share their books with an adult at home. We use Reading Records across the school and special Planners in UKS2 to communicate home with how the children are progressing with their reading. Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment perform better than those who don’t and also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. Reading aloud to your child will also help! Talk about the words and pictures and share ideas about the book. Children who see adults reading, and enjoying reading, are much more likely to want to read themselves.
Our reading scheme is phonics based and is supplemented by a range of increasing challenging genres and texts and the children progress through the school. When they are ready they access our Accelerated Reader programme which supports a high standard of reading by letting children take a quiz after every book they have read. We also have our own school library and a timetable for class use, school librarians and at least once a term we visit our local library.
Starting down in Nursery, our children are given opportunities to mark make with writing stations and a language rich environment. In Reception, our children start to learn how to form letters correctly. They are encouraged to use their knowledge of phonics to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. By the end of the year, they are expected to write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.
In Year 1, our children are taught to write sentences by saying out loud what they are going to write about, put several sentences together and re-read their writing to check it makes sense. They also discuss what they have written read it aloud. In Year 2, our children learn to write for a range of purposes, including stories, information texts and poetry. Children are encouraged to plan what they are going to write and to read through their writing to make corrections and improvements. In Years 3 and 4, the children are encouraged to draft and write by talking about their writing. They will continue to learn how to organise paragraphs and, if they are writing non-fiction, to use headings. When they are writing stories, they will learn to use settings, characters and plots. Children in Years 3 and 4 will be expected to use what they know about grammar in their writing and to read through what they have written, to find ways to improve it. In Years 5 and 6, our children continue to develop their skills in planning, drafting and reviewing what they have written. Children learn to identify the audience for and purpose of their writing. They will be expected to use grammar appropriately. In non-fiction writing, children will use headings, bullet points and other ways to organise their writing. They will be expected to describe settings, characters and to use dialogue in their stories.
As a school, we create opportunities for writing inspired by meaningful events and experiences in texts and real life. This provides the children with ways in to talking and writing about their own feelings, experiences and interests and, with purpose in mind, begin to think about their audience and adapt their tone accordingly. Children take pleasure in a reader’s feedback and begin to link writing with communication. We see it as a non-negotiable to validate the children’s writing with appropriate response, focusing first on the effect that the writing has on the reader.
Spellings are sent home each week for your child to learn. These are based on phonic knowledge lower down the school and set spelling rulers further up the school linked to the New National Curriculum 2014. The children are taught the spelling rule throughout the week and are expected to learn their spellings ready for a test towards the end of the week.
Phonics teaching begins in Nursery and continues to upper KS2 if necessary.
The teaching of phonics follows the ’Letters and Sounds’ programme.
How can I support my child’s writing?
1. Reading with your child
No matter their age, reading regularly to your child, often books that they can’t yet read independently, is a great way of supporting their writing. Listening to books being read aloud introduces them to different ideas that they can borrow and adapt for their own writing, as well as hearing different ways of using language that are often from the types of sentences that we use when we speak.
Try to make sure your child gets to hear a range of different types of books, including fiction and non-fiction. This is useful for their writing, as it allows them to encounter a wide variety of different types of language and different purposes for writing.
2. Giving your child opportunities to write
Writing for a real-life purpose can be a great way of practising writing. Writing cards, shopping lists, or letters and emails to relatives can all be motivating real life reasons for writing. Children might also keep a diary or be encouraged to write short stories based on books they have read or toys they enjoy playing with. Older children could produce their own version of a book for a younger child – The Rhino Who Came to Tea or The Very Hungry Angler Fish, for example. Books with a distinctive format such as The Day the Crayons Quit or The Last Polar Bears are perfect for this. Another idea is for children to write the book of the film (or TV programme). If children have watched something they’ve really enjoyed, they could try and tell the same story in writing. While writing using a pen and pencil is useful practice, writing on the computer counts too. You might want to turn the spelling and grammar check off to help children to learn to use their own knowledge. The grammar check can be wrong too, so this can be confusing for children.
3. Helping your child with spelling
While there’s obviously much more to good writing than correct spelling, if children are worrying about spelling a particular word or having to stop frequently to think about spelling it can prevent them from concentrating on the other aspects of writing, including communicating their ideas.
4. Helping your child with grammar and punctuation
The curriculum in England puts a lot of emphasis on children learning to use grammar and punctuation. For ideas and support with grammar and punctuation, there are lots of interactive games online!
5. Helping your child with handwriting
Different children develop control over their handwriting at different points, and there is certainly a lot more to be a good writer than having neat handwriting. That said, learning to form letters correctly at the start of school can very useful for later on as it is much harder to unlearn habits once they have been formed. Fluent, neat handwriting is useful to ensure that a reader can understand what a child is trying to communicate in their writing, as well as helping a child to feel confident about their writing.