Education is the process of preparing us for the big world, and the big world has big words. The more big words I know, the better I will survive in it. Because there are hundreds of thousands of big words in English, I cannot learn them all. But this does not mean that I shouldn't try to learn some words.'
Words, words, words- David Crystal
At Kippax Ash Tree, we believe that a quality English curriculum should promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong understanding of both the spoken and written word. We recognise the importance of delivering our curriculum using a range of strategies and dynamic components that work together to put pupils in the best place to succeed. The socio-economic context and needs of our children require our English curriculum to be centered around vocabulary and the understanding of words in context. It is our aim to ensure the explicit teaching of Tier 2 words and the consolidation of Tier 1 words in order to address the word gap that our children possess. This not only enables them to become primary literate but also promotes a love of reading and creative writing, instilling the confidence to understand and use spoken language effectively. Our vision is to inspire children to be feel confident to participate in discussions in order to further their learning. This echoes our ‘Voices and Choices’ ethos. Vocabulary at Kippax Ash Tree is not only a focus in English lessons, but it is intrinsically woven through our wider curriculum. It is embedded within all our lessons as we strive for a high level of English for all our pupils. By using high-quality texts, immersing children in rich learning environments and ensuring opportunities for sustained shared thinking, the children at Ash Tree are exposed to a language-rich, creative and continuous English curriculum.
At Kippax Ash Tree, we follow the principles and objectives as set out in the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Language and Literacy skills are taught on a daily basis from Nursery to Year 6. These skills are then applied in cross curricular learning opportunities within our Voices and Choices connected curriculum.
Developing Early Language
The development of language begins in our Foundation Stage. We recognise the huge importance of spoken language and understand that talking is a vital part of a child's development. There are a number of pre-cursor skills that are crucial to the success of children and so there is a heavy focus on communication and language at Ash Tree. The adults act as facilitators who focus on high quality interactions, and there is a focused approach to story time. This allows for plenty of opportunities for modelling language and vocabulary in meaningful contexts, ensuring strong foundations for all our learners.
The importance of spoken language to underpin the development of reading and writing is reflected in opportunities to develop vocabulary and confidence in speaking and listening. Children are encouraged to develop effective communication skills in readiness for later life. Children are given regular opportunities to speak out in assemblies, in front of the class when presenting work, as well as in drama, debate and group activities. We also have a strong and active Pupil Parliament, which represents the voices of each class.
Language and literacy-specific teaching and learning takes place within a whole class setting through shared/modeled reading and writing based on the approach devised by Jane Considine. Staff plan together to construct logical units of work that build on writing over time, developing both pupil’s writing stamina and high quality outcomes. Practitioners guide our pupils through a shared understanding of the ‘The Three Zones of Writing’, which break the learning down into manageable chunks, each with a different intention. This approach is used throughout Key Stage 1 and 2 across all genres. In all lessons, good practice is shared and modeled in the whole class setting, and then the children work independently on set tasks. This repeated model strengthens subject knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure and grammatical techniques to ensure pupils achieve the intended outcomes and can ‘deepen the moment’ to develop their creative flair. Teachers use a variety of interactive teaching methods to deliver the curriculum and achieve set learning objectives. Whole Class planning takes place using the Jane Considine symbols (FANTASTICs, GRAMMARSTICs, BOOMTASTICs), story journeys and mapping. Children are encouraged to contribute orally to these plans. Wherever possible, children will be exposed to a range of stimulus including clips, animation, picture books and film. They will also immerse themselves in the story writing process through drama and outdoor learning opportunities.
Read Write Inc.
In addition to English lessons, all children across Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 take part in a daily phonics lesson to develop strategies for segmenting spelling and deepening their understanding of words in context. Children begin their reading journey through the rigorous Read Write Inc Phonics programme. They receive daily phonics sessions from Nursery and are regularly assessed and grouped. Strategies used in the RWInc. programme such as ‘My Turn, Your Turn’ are used across school with the sound posters and friezes to scaffold learning. Children are taught the 150+ graphemes that represent the 44 speech sounds. There are 5 core principles to the teaching and learning of phonics: Pace, Praise, Purpose, Participation and Passion.
As a school, we have adopted ‘Book Talk’ by Jane Considine. It is a systematic way to teach reading strategies across the whole school. It is underpinned by certain guiding principles:
Pupils are organised into reading attainment groups and share a set of the ‘same’ books pitched at their level with appropriate challenge.
All pupils in the classroom will be accessing narrative, non-fiction or poetry at the same time.
Pupils will receive a daily 30 minute ‘Book Talk’ session and once a week will intensively work with the class teacher on reading strategies and comprehension skills.
Each Book Talk session is layered with open-ended whole class questions to tackle the three layers of the reading rainbow.
Book Talk is structured with three reasons to read. The reasons to read are taken from ‘The Reading Rainbow’. One reason is taken from the top layer of the rainbow under FANTASTIC. The second reason is taken from the STYLISTIC layer. The third reason is taken from the ANALYTICS layer. These are introduced to the pupils in chunks and it is through these generic lenses they think and discuss their reading material.
Informal Book Talk encourages children to share their own reading for pleasure in our wonderful libraries, class or reading areas.
To provide children with a breadth of reading opportunities we use a range of reading texts from Read Write Inc, Oxford University Press and Collins. These are book banded into coloured levels to provide progression and engage children in a love of reading.
Each child takes home a Reading Record, where they are encouraged to read on a daily basis and record comments. Books sent home to read link to the phonics sound being learnt and also to the colour book band level which the children are currently reading at. Children are also challenged to read 100 books before they finish KS1 and KS2.
All aspects of English are an integral part of our curriculum and the focus on vocabulary is woven throughout all aspects of our school. The Jane Considine lenses we use to inspire writing are threaded into cross curricular learning, enabling skills taught in our English lesson to be transferred into other subjects. This shows consolidation of skills and a deepening understanding of how the spoken and written word are used in purposeful ways.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods: formative assessment of independent writes from each unit, in-depth assessment records kept for each individual in school that are used to track progress and inform planning; assessment data used to close gaps in understanding and skills for all learners and internal and external moderation is completed to ensure accuracy of assessment.