The EWPA English Curriculum
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that our children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, our children learn to make sense of the world and also shape their place within it.
Vocabulary development is at the heart of both reading and writing. By the time our children leave us in Year 6 their vocabulary development will have expanded enormously from their starting point in Reception. This gives our children the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
At EWPA we want to foster and develop in all our children a genuine love of reading. We teach reading in a variety of ways across the school using Success for all (SFA) as our philosophy and structure of lessons. In SFA Roots, our children apply their phonic knowledge to reading. Shared stories build reading and comprehension skills alongside a vocabulary of ‘tricky’ and high frequency words.
When children move into Wings, their skills are developed and challenged as they read from a wide range of carefully selected literature including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. This is supported by opportunities to stimulate discussion about the text, increase vocabulary, focus on the understanding of different literary devices and key reading skills. We ensure the children develop fluency by practising short passages of high quality texts 3 times a week.
Every class across the school has access to a well-resourced book area, containing a wide variety of written material. Teachers read regularly to the children from challenging and interesting novels which expose children to rich language and classic stories which may otherwise be too challenging to read independently.
A home-school reading system runs throughout the school. There is an expectation that all children read a book at the appropriate level for them, for an age appropriate period of time per day. Our children have access to a wide variety of books which are banded by stages so that children are able to select a book independently.
In Key Stage 1, the children have access to a whole range of books which are matched to their phonic acquisition.
In Key Stage 2, there is a well-stocked library that children are able to visit to select their reading book as required, once they have completed 20 reads. This is closely monitored by the English lead.
There is also a wider reading incentive reward across each of the Key Stages. In KS1, children are encouraged as a class to record the number of books they have read during the week, these are then reported and during the weekly celebration assembly and the winning class wins the reading reward. In KS2, the number of reads a class attains in a half term is counted and a reward is then given to the winning class.
Alongside this, there are author visits, book fairs, World Book Day and reading ambassadors.
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their phonemic awareness – the ability to hear, identify and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds (phonemes) and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. At EWPA we place great emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give our children a strong foundation for learning. In addition to teaching phonics, we also teach ‘tricky’ and high frequency words, these are words that do not comply to the rules of phonics, we teach these words by repetition and retrieval.
Phonics is taught daily at EWPA from Nursery up to Year 2. Phonics lessons are short, engaging and memorable with an emphasis on revising previously learned letter-sound correspondence, learning a new one, practising this and then applying it to word and sentence level work. We use SFA phonics, validated by DfE program. This is based upon the Letters and Sounds progression with a clear structure of six phases that include reading, writing and spelling.
By the end of EYFS, we expect our children to be secure to phase 4. By the end of Year 1, our children should be secure in phase 5, the alternative spelling of previously learned sounds and then in Year 2 they should be refining their knowledge through phase 6 to become more fluid readers and more accurate spellers.
The Phonic Screening Check
During the Summer term in Year 1, our children along with all children nationwide, are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support as they move to Year 2. The test is low key and we ensure that it is stress-free for our children. During the test, children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonic knowledge to ‘sound them out’ and then blend them (if they need) to read the word. Parents are informed at the end of the academic year as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation. Any child who does not meet the expectation, will repeat the test in Year 2.