English Curriculum (Herne Junior School)
At Herne we strive to deliver an exciting and engaging English curriculum which provides all children with the key literacy skills they will need, whilst enabling creativity and progression across the year groups. We attach great importance to enabling all children to develop into fluent and confident readers, who love books. Staff sharing and being enthused about books has helped us to create a culture of reading for pleasure across the school. Learning to read is one of the most important life skills a child needs to achieve at Herne, so we are passionate about making sure that every single child learns to read fluently, whilst also enjoying the stories, poems, information books that we have built into our curriculum. This is achieved through both interesting and inspiring lessons, ‘weaving magic’ (inspired by Sir John Jones). Whole class reading sessions promote the children’s understanding of texts by developing their knowledge and curiosity through working collaboratively in both class discussion and shared reading.
Our writing curriculum is enhanced, through the use of quality texts that have been carefully chosen. These texts have been selected due to their relevance to our curriculum and also to the children’s interests. At Herne we recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing and our expectation is that all written work across the whole curriculum is of a high standard. Children at Herne are taught to write in a variety of styles and for a variety of purposes and audiences. Our writing lessons not only promote a love of reading and writing but also aim to develop the children’s imagination and creativity. We use high quality modelled examples to promote the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar, in order that the children have a clear idea of how these elements can impact their writing. We endeavour to inspire the children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and use discussion to communicate and further their learning. Careful consideration is given to how all lessons build towards a piece of writing which showcases the children’s acquired knowledge, skills and understanding.
At Herne Junior School our English curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum requirements, which supports the teaching and enables the children to build on prior learning as they move through the year groups. We provide children with a wide range of high-quality reading material in our ‘link’ reading area, well stocked school library and in every classroom. We attach great importance to promoting these both within and outside English lessons. In pursuit of our aim to get all children reading by the time they leave Herne, we have a team of listeners who endeavour to help build up the ‘reading miles’ for each child. Adults from across the school community ‘adopt’ readers to focus on throughout the year, to ensure the expected progress is achieved. These sessions focus on the key skills of reading and questioning and are guided using VIPERS: – vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summary, in order to improve comprehension skills, in line with the content domains. For those children who have been identified as needing further support with reading, our Compulsory Accelerated Programme (CAP) is offered. This reading intervention takes the form of a small group sessions before the beginning of the school day, where by the individuals needs are addressed encouraging them to work both independently and collaboratively, whilst engaging with a high quality text. Selected children are given the opportunity to partake in a computer programme Lexia. This is a fun computer- based programme that builds on our classroom curriculum and focusses on developing reading skills in six areas; phonological awareness, phonics, structural analysis, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
At Herne Junior School the children are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum. Evidence can be found in English books, as well as in other books where there has been a site of application of the English skills. We encourage the children to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. To do this effectively we focus on audience, purpose and context and a wide knowledge of both vocabulary and grammar.
Increasing children’s vocabulary is of paramount importance at Herne, whereby tier three words (domain specific academic vocabulary) are displayed in classrooms and explored, giving the children an opportunity to apply these in their own creative writing. Tier two words (those found in many content texts) are also discussed in other curriculum areas in order to broaden the children’s understanding of a subject, as well as their overall vocabulary. Spelling patterns are taught regularly and the children are given opportunities to focus on applying these rules in their independent writing. A major intent of our spelling curriculum is enabling the children to focus on ways of learning to spell tricky words. Children are also taught to spell the statutory words, as outlined in the National Curriculum. On their arrival at Herne Junior School, all children write using a pencil. After practising their joined handwriting to develop a neat, fluent style, they are allowed to write in pen.
At Herne, we want all children to leave our school reading and writing with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies. They will be able to take a responsibility for their learning including correcting their own errors, thereby, enabling them to become resilient and life-long learners. Our aim throughout the English Learning Pathway is for children to leave Herne as thoughtful, reflective, articulate individuals who are able to communicate their opinions, their ideas and their emotions in a wide range of spoken and written ways. They will have developed an understanding of the importance of reading both to acquire knowledge and for pleasure/enjoyment.
‘Children should be taught 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, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.’
DfE New curriculum document, 2013
‘It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish,’