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.
Daily English lessons follow long-term plans and progression documents planned for in both reading and writing which will help children develop as both readers and writers. Daily phonics, grammar, spelling and handwriting sessions also take place across both key stages and EYFS.
The impact of our structured English teaching can be seen through the pupils’ confidence in talking about the curriculum, as well as the way in which measurable objectives have been put in place to ensure that we aim for learners to be reaching age-related expectations and above.
At Mount Pleasant, we believe that each child should receive a high standard of education that is broad, challenging, exciting and encourages creative thinking. We encourage every learner to be the best they can be, to reflect and plan the next steps in their life- long learning journey and to contribute to the communities of which they are a part. Reading is a key life skill which enables children to express themselves, communicate with others and access other areas of the curriculum.
We aim to show the school’s reading ethos and how it is practiced through daily reading sessions as well as other areas across the school and curriculum. We aim to set out a series of expectations for teachers so that there is clarity for all members of staff to ensure that all our pupils are provided with a rich and varied learning experience that aims develops the children as lifelong readers. Each lesson is content domain based to guarantee that our children are continually exposed to the curriculum to deepen their knowledge and understanding of a variety of texts.
Through the curriculum and our practice, we strive to develop a culture of reading through consistently using high quality texts, that demonstrate aspirational language and grammatical structure; a variety of texts that inspire and enthuse children; texts with themes that help our children to develop and promote the school’s values as well as ensuring their personal, social, spiritual and emotion needs are met and where children are able to progress and reach their full potential. We also ensure time each day for story telling in EYFS and KS1 and daily access to class novel in KS2 which also closely link to the topics being taught.
EYFS has a rigorous phonics programme which includes a minimum of one phonic lesson a day starting immediately upon entry to school starting with phase 1 in nursery. Phonics underpins the majority of English teaching with opportunities across the classrooms for regular reading, daily story time, singing and rhyme time. Writing stations also provide opportunities for both indoor and outdoor activities, handwriting practise and word and sentence spelling.
Reading in Year 1 is carried out through guided reading sessions with a focus on phonic decoding and phonic based books (Big Cat phonic books.) Key reading skills are also taught side by side with this. Year 2 have recently moved to a whole class reading approach.
Key Stage 2 have daily whole class reading sessions. Two days a week are based on activities from the class novel with three days of a linked texts. Class novels are non-negotiable and are read for at least fifteen minutes after lunch to show model reading and reading for pleasure. Independent reading happens for the final fifteen minutes of the day.
Our English curriculum is derived around a ‘mastery approach to writing.’ We use a key text or visual stimulus to create opportunities to develop imagination skills, develop a deep understanding of the genre being taught; explore the writing structure and features of different genres; plan and write an initial piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and redrafting. Our children are immersed into the genres through a variety of texts, film clips, posters and books - and above all, we encourage daily writing. Each child publishes their work in their Writing Books, giving them a sense of pride in their presentation. They are encouraged to write independently for a sustained length of time using prompt mats, word mats and the working wall to help them.
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.