At Holbrook, we recognise that without effective communication, little achievement can be made. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority as we recognise that this it is a crucial skill necessary throughout school life and beyond. It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ needed for children to enter society as well-rounded citizens.
We aim to provide a wide range of opportunities for our pupils to read and write for a purpose and for a real-life audience. This leads to pupils self-reflecting, critiquing and becoming fully immersed in their topic areas.
Through English we aim to support this philosophy by:
- fostering the enjoyment that exploring our rich literary heritage can bring
- enabling children to develop and explore their skills in English with increasing maturity and awareness of audience;
- encouraging children to work and explore this subject independently and with others (pairs/groups) through speaking & listening activities; drama; writing for an audience and purpose and Philosophical discussions and debates;
- modelling to children how to improve the quality of their written work in English leading to them effectively editing and improving to a high standard;
- teaching children to critically analyse their work and the work produced by others
- encouraging and celebrating creativity and imagination in this subject
- teaching basic skills such as grammar terminology and comprehension leading to their application across the wider curriculum
At Holbrook we recognise that children learn best when they are provided opportunities to revisit, revise and reflect on their skills and understanding in order to apply their learning across all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are given opportunities to develop their use, knowledge and understanding of spoken and written English within a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunities to consolidate and reinforce taught literacy skills.
Holbrook’s curriculum is driven each term by a key literary text that is central to the topic. A central key text each term enables us support literacy across the curriculum as all topic areas focus around this. The initial ‘driving text,’ is then supported with additional literature around the same topic enabling the introduction of non-fiction, poetry and other genres. Carefully selected classic and high quality modern texts ensure that all children are immersed in a rich vocabulary-based curriculum. In addition to this, challenging context derived vocabulary is woven into the curriculum in the form of ‘fancy pants’ words for EYFS and schema word lists for Key Stage 1 and 2. These cross-curricular academic word lists are shared with parents at the start of each topic and are clearly displayed in each classroom. Over the course of a term pupils are encouraged to rehearse, revise and revisit the schema words and embed them into both their spoken and written English.
Valuable Speaking and Listening opportunities at Holbrook include:
Poetry Recitals as part of National Poetry Day; persuasive speeches following the Year 5 Suffolk Food Hall Trip and as WW1 recruitment officers; School Council Campaign Speeches; Eco-School Council and Junior Road Safety presentations; participation in a mock trial at Ipswich Crown Court ;Class Assembly performances to parents, and School Productions.
Our aim is to ensure that prior to each topic children are immersed in experiences that allow them to access the curriculum and class text. Schema words and planning in other curriculum areas are deliberately organised to allow all children to access class texts and other subsequent learning experiences in English We inform parents of the topic the term before it is taught encouraging them to support their children with relevant experiences. Trips and experiences are arranged, wherever possible, at the start of each topic and then referred to as a valuable stimulus during the topic.
The English subject leader provides a strategic lead and direction for English at Holbrook. They ‘fly the flag’ for their subject by supporting colleagues in their teaching, keep themselves informed about
current developments in the subject, take the lead in policy development. By producing and overseeing schemes of work they ensure progression of skills and continuity throughout the school in all areas of English, working closely with other subject leads to identify cross-curricular links. Work with other schools and the wider community enables the English subject lead to ensure that extension activities and real life learning experiences are high on the agenda.
Here are some examples that show how our curriculum design has impacted on our pupils:
- October 2019 for National Poetry Day, every pupil in the school learnt a poem off by heart at home and recited it to their class. ‘Winning’ pupils, chosen by their classmates, performed their poetry in a whole school assembly with the local paper in attendance.
- July 2019… End of key stage results in KS1, KS2 have dramatically improved compared to 2018 results and outcomes in all areas of English are above national.
- Year 1 Phonics Screening Results were also above national in 2019
- Pupil perception questioning and learning walks regularly demonstrate that children throughout the school are passionate about reading and English. They speak enthusiastically about their class texts and how it helps them to learn about their topic. Children as young as 5 are able to read schema words such as ‘metamorphosis’ and can use these academically challenging words in context.
- Year 5 pupils write high quality persuasive speeches aimed at selling a new local dish to an audience as part of their Suffolk Dish Project which involves a visit to learn about the work of a local food business, Suffolk Food Hall.
- Following the introduction of a new Holbrook Reading Diet, an increasing number of children are reading regularly at home and reflect on their reading through the completion of weekly reading challenges