At Beech Hill School, we believe children should be given the fundamental skills they need to read and write fluently and with confidence. A good use and understanding of the English language underpins the whole curriculum and a high expectation of writing applies across all subjects. In English lessons, children are exposed to inspiring and challenging texts to build on reading skills and provide excellent writing opportunities. We want children to love reading and enjoy writing. We want them to express themselves, be creative and expand their imagination through a broad range of stimulus including carefully chosen books, extracts, poems, films and experiences.
How our English curriculum is constructed
For years 1 – 6, we follow the National Curriculum as defined by the Department for Education.
Our English curriculum is designed to engage and enthuse our children with wider opportunities, exposing them to challenging texts which work alongside our creative curriculum and ultimately produce confident, independent readers and writers.
English is taught daily from Year 1 to Year 6 with a focus on either reading or writing. We follow a whole-book teaching approach, meaning each year group studies one book a half term and all of the English lessons are planned from the text. These books are carefully chosen and regularly reviewed to ensure they deepen the learning in that half-term’s topic and that they provide excellent opportunities for improving the reading and writing skills of all children. These skills are taken from our in-house progression of skills document.
Teachers plan to include at least one opportunity to write at length (appropriate to their year group) a week and carefully choose the text types which need to be covered using the Whole School Overview of Texts document. Grammar and punctuation objectives are expertly weaved into lessons depending on the text type being taught. The grammar and punctuation skills are documented in the skills progression handbook, and also in child-friendly Must Knows appropriate to their year group, which children have to refer to in their English book. Spellings are taught discreetly and are outlined on each half-term’s Medium Term Plan. The application of spelling rules that have previously been taught though, is an ongoing process which is again incorporated into English lessons, following revisit and recap methods. Year 1 also have daily phonics lessons alongside their class text-focused English lesson.
The presentation of work and neat, legible handwriting is paramount at Beech Hill. Our children are taught to use pre-cursive script in KS1 then cursive script in KS2. Children begin by writing in pencil and then progress to pen in KS2 when they may choose which writing implement best suits their handwriting style, as the National Curriculum states.
By the time they leave our school, we aim to have children who are able, confident writers with a firm understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation but ultimately, children who have developed their imagination, can express themselves in a succinct and assured way, and who have a real love for the written word.
In Early Years, writing is taught under the area of Literacy: Reading & Writing. To support the learning of Writing, the skills in EYFS prime areas need to be developed. This is done through playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both inside and outside pf the classroom. These are known as the 3 characteristics of effective learning. By providing learning opportunities throughout the EYFS academic year, children will develop the skills in the above areas to make them ‘curriculum ready’ for more formal English teaching when they enter Year One.
In EYFS, we ensure we use this plan and the progression for skills document to specifically support the areas ‘Literacy; Reading’ and ‘Literacy: Writing’ as this area have the greatest link to the subject English. Writing is also supported through elements of ‘Physical Development; Moving and Handling’- specifically fine and gross motor movements needed for handwriting.
Sample Grammar Must Knows
Below, are a selection of the Must Knows that we provide for each year group for grammar. These Must Knows are designed to be used in lessons and referred to regularly by teachers and used by pupils as and when they need. The previous year group’s grammar objectives are also displayed in classrooms as a reminder for children of what they have learnt previously and should be able to apply in their writing. From the spring term, Year 6 will have a revision booklet covering all relevant terminology related to their upcoming KS2 SPaG tests. These are to be used frequently in lessons and as a guide for home learning and revision.
Once embedded, these Must Knows will help our children to develop and retain key knowledge year on year. They are designed to follow from one year to the next so the layout and terminology used is very similar and will become familiar and really accessible for every child.
Grammar Must Knows can be found on each class’ Seesaw account
Cultural Capital in English
‘It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’
Ofsted School Inspection Handbook 2019
Cultural Capital at Beech Hill is something we are passionate about throughout all subjects. English is a topic that lends itself well to developing cultural capital. We are excited about delivering knowledge and making educated citizens who learn from the events, people and ideas we study.
We aim to provide at least one high quality trip and/or visitor related to the topic for each year group throughout the year, for our pupils to gain a wider context to their unit of study. Children are then able to apply their knowledge to a more ‘concrete’ experience and bring their learning to life. We also aim to provide children with thought-provoking texts in English to coincide with our topics; these may challenge the ideas of pupils, widen their knowledge and perspectives and form a good basis for debate. For example, Year 6 study World War II and read a book ‘Anna at War’ based around a Jewish German girl and the persecution she, her family, and all Jews in Germany endured. This not only educates the children about the second world war but also addresses pre-conceived stereotypes that all Germans were to blame when that is not at all the case.
Celebrating achievements in English is also very important for us at Beech Hill. In our weekly Gold Book assembly, teachers nominate a Handwriter of the Week who receive a certificate and their work is showcased on Seesaw. We also hold our annual Grammary Awards which celebrate children’s achievements in reading and writing across school.