The teaching of English has a crucial role to play in equipping learners with the language skills they need to become effective members of their own community, the world of work and of society in general. The English Curriculum has three inter related strands – spoken language, reading and writing:
- Spoken language – Oral communication is an important skill that children in all year groups are encouraged to develop at Fitzmaurice. Younger children will learn to articulate their thoughts and feelings through role play and discussion. This continues as the children travel through the school, developing their questioning, while they learn to explain their understanding and ideas. By Year 5 and 6, children will be given opportunities to give formal presentations and participate in debate, when they are taught how to challenge the views of others courteously.
- Phonics – Phonics is taught daily using Letters and Sounds in a multi-sensory way. Children’s phonic knowledge is tested in Year 1; this is statutory testing and was introduced in 2012 by the Department for Education who say; ‘High quality phonics teaching gives children a solid base on which to build as they progress through school. Children who master the mechanics of reading are well-placed to go on to develop a love of reading’.
- Reading – Reading is more than just words. At Fitzmaurice we teach reading using a phonic and sight vocabulary approach using systematic banded books that enable children to enjoy success at every stage. Our reading scheme consists of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from a mixture of different publishers to give children a wide range at every stage. Children are taught reading in school through group reading sessions and they have the opportunity to practice their skills by reading individually at home and at school. At school we have a number of dedicated volunteers who provide the opportunity for children to practice their reading skills on a 1:1 basis.
- Writing – At Fitzmaurice, children are taught through emergent writing, not copy writing, and throughout the school are encouraged to ‘have a go’ in order to develop and reinforce their writing skills. In Key Stage 1 and 2 the children continue to develop their writing skills with them being encouraged to bring together all the different elements that exist in writing.
- Spelling – Spelling is taught daily for all children from Year 2 to 6. Children are given a list of spellings to learn at the start of each term to take home to encourage them to practise a weekly list. Each week, children are given words which follow a spelling rule/pattern and some from the statutory Common Exception Word list. At the start of each week, children explore the etymology (the origin of each word) and the morphology (the structure of each word). Throughout the week, children are given the opportunity to develop an understanding of the definition of the words and to practise spelling each of the words.
- Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation – At Fitzmaurice, children are taught these skills at the start of each English lesson during the mental oral starter. This supports children to include the relevant elements needed for the genre they are writing. Throughout the year, the children are taught different genres of writing; for example, stories, reports or instructions. From Year 2, after completing their writing, the children are taught to proofread their own writing to check for errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. They are then encouraged to edit their work to correct such mistakes and improve the language they have used. Children are encouraged to use ‘wow words’; for example they are encouraged to use ‘shouted’ or ‘whispered’ instead of said.
- Handwriting – This is a separate skill and is taught discretely and frequently. Children from Foundation Stage are taught the cursive script where the letters include a lead in/entry stroke. This supports children in Year 2 to join their writing. In Key Stage 2 children work towards achieving their ‘pen licence’ which means they can begin to use a handwriting pen, when appropriate, in their work.