At St Mark’s C.E. Primary School, we aim to ignite an enthusiasm for writing and the confidence to communicate with others. Through our carefully planned and sequenced English curriculum, we seek to provide children with meaningful series of lessons based on high-quality texts. Written and spoken language is a means to communicating effectively in life, but it is also the doorway to magical and exciting worlds. Through a carefully planned and rich curriculum, we enable our learners to become confident communicators, who are equipped to succeed now and in the future.
Across the school, there is a clear progression of skills which build on prior understanding. During their time at St Mark's, children acquire a wide vocabulary, secure a sound understanding of grammar and develop strategies to enable them to spell new words by applying their understanding of taught spelling rules.
Our children are given a wide range of opportunities to write for a variety of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that children should be encouraged to take pride in their presentation of their writing. Within lessons, we provide children with opportunities to discuss, plan, draft, edit and refine their writing; children are encouraged to be authors in their own right. All children are exposed to their age-related curriculum and we seek to cater for all learning needs to ensure all pupils, including those with SEND make good progress.
The English National Curriculum (2014) states that:
‘The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.’
We are passionate about using high-quality texts as a rich context for learning and to support building a reading culture throughout the school. We seek to use high-quality texts that offer opportunities for empathy and can aid philosophical enquiry, as a means of developing the spoken language requirements through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text.
At St Mark’s C.E. Primary School, we use the Literary Curriculum to support with the delivery of our English Curriculum.
Lessons draw upon prior understanding with children’s knowledge of grammar, punctuation and spelling developing progressively. Grammar, punctuation and spelling are taught discretely in short sessions but also are incorporated into writing lessons. Each week, the children have a set of spellings to learn at home which are then tested in school the subsequent week. Children are given opportunity to explore specific spelling patterns and common exception words.
Where possible, meaningful links are made to other curriculum areas. Each unit of writing is linked to a high-quality text taken from the Literary Curriculum. As part of each unit of writing, children are provided with the opportunity to analyse specific genres in order to identify the structural and language features required. In addition to this, word and sentence level work enables the development of sentence construction and promotion of rich vocabulary. Within each unit, oracy plays a vital role in allowing for idea generation and encouraging discussion. Shared writing plays an important role too, and this collaborative approach of modelling enables pupils to contribute their ideas and thoughts.
Throughout a unit, children are given the opportunity to practise the skills being taught. They are scaffolded with planning and writing frames as needed, as well as being challenged to include a range of previously taught grammar and vocabulary. Learning resources are readily available in classrooms to support with spelling and vocabulary choices, including word banks, dictionaries, etc. In line with the Feedback Policy, children are provided with meaningful feedback celebrating their successes and directing them to their next steps.
At set points during a unit of work, children independently draft their own written outcomes where they seek to incorporate the skills and vocabulary practised and developed. Teachers provide set time for the children to edit and refine though the use of purple pens. There is a culture of celebrating success and children’s written work is readily displayed.
As a result of our curriculum, all our children, including those with SEND, will make progress and develop their ability to write and speak with confidence, fluency and understanding. Children evolve a deep body of knowledge by making links to prior learning and being familiar with their next steps. Regular opportunities are planned for to revisit concepts and embed learning.
Children will have experienced writing a range of genres and developed an understanding of writing for purpose and audience. Their vocabulary will have been enhanced and they will have a thorough understanding of grammar, punctuation and spelling which will lay the foundations of their continued writing journey through primary and beyond.
As part of our English curriculum, both formative and summative assessment are used to assess understanding and track progress. Specialist intervention and bespoke individual education plans are implemented for those children working towards achieving age-related expectations.
In order to evaluate the level to which children are retaining their knowledge and are able to apply their learning to a range of contexts, we use a variety of techniques:
- Feedback in lessons to address misconceptions as they arise
- Subject monitoring, including book looks, learning walks and pupil voice
- Whole-school tracking of progress in writing
- In-school moderation and regular progress review meetings with priorities being outlined as part of our school development plan
- Moderation with other schools in the BST Trust and across the Local Authority