At Bracken Lane, the teaching of English is at the heart of all we do. We recognise that, when children arrive at Bracken Lane, their abilities in English vary considerably. All children bring some literacy skills with them and it is our aim to build on these through careful identification, planning, class organisation and delivery of learning.
The grasping of literacy skills is vital for success, and the teaching and learning of speaking and listening, drama, reading, writing, grammar, handwriting, spelling and presentation are all interrelated.
For children to gain the most from this and have the best chances of achieving their potential it must also be enjoyable and shared by both home and school.
The children have many opportunities to practise their skills in daily English lessons. Children use their English skills to access learning across the whole curriculum.
Phonics and early reading
Children in foundation and key stage 1 have a daily 20-minute phonics session. The children are split into groups and are taught phonics using the ‘Read, Write Inc.’ strategy.
This is delivered in a fun and interactive way, where children learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step.
Why teach English?
A high-quality education in English teaches children to write and speak fluently, so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, children have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading enables children to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.
The main aim for the teaching of English is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. At Bracken Lane, we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Through our teaching of English, we ensure the continual development of children’s confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
The national curriculum for reading comprises of two parts:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading)
The teaching of reading focuses on developing children’s competence in both of these areas.
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both of these is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading when children start school.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through children’s experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.
All children are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently and with confidence in any subject.
The national curriculum for writing comprises of two parts:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
Teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two areas. In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.
Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.