At Helmdon Primary School, our English curriculum is the crucial foundation stone for our pupils’ learning and is designed to develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. Our English curriculum encourages inquisitive and curious learners and helps prepare everyone for life as successful, valuable and socially responsible citizens. At the end of their time at Helmdon Primary School, children will know and feel that the world is exciting and diverse and will understand their role in protecting the planet. They will leave us confident and independent in reading and writing. We inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely, often and for pleasure. We nurture a culture where children take pride in their writing and can write clearly, imaginatively and accurately, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts. We inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening, and to question and use discussion to communicate and further their learning in all areas of the curriculum.
At Helmdon Primary School, we aim to create a positive reading and writing culture where both are promoted, enjoyed and considered ‘a pleasure’ for all pupils. Early reading is taught through the Read Write Inc scheme of phonics, ensuring that children link sounds and letters and simultaneously begin to recognise the shape of letters and to write. Pupils begin their reading journey on the very first day in school, learning the /m/ phoneme (sound) made by the letter M.
English and phonics lessons are taught daily throughout the school. The children develop their reading skills through a combination of 1:1 and guided reading sessions, whole class text analysis and reading sessions, independent reading and through sharing a whole-class, challenging text. By the end of Key Stage 1, our aim is that all children are able to read fluently and have progressed from phonics-based books to reading, at minimum, simple chapter and non-fiction literature. In Key Stage 2, children engage with Accelerated Reader, which promotes the reading of a wide variety of authors and genres whilst also ensuring comprehension is reinforced. Where required, daily interventions are carefully planned, and led by our most experienced staff, to ensure that all children make progress and are able to keep up with their peers
Class reading is underpinned by a rich, diverse and high quality reading spine, mapped for all year groups, to ensure progression and that children enjoy challenging and engaging texts from across the globe. The reading spine may provide the stimulus for a variety of writing genres: the shared story of Little Red Riding Hood, for example, may promote the retelling of a traditional tale in Year 1 English lessons, with a focus on the crafting of simple, punctuated sentences or the rewriting of a traditional tale with an alternative ending in Year 2. In addition, writing is taught through a number of approaches: Talk4Writing, live author events, whole school debate, drama and with the use of film, poetry and music.
Reading for pleasure is promoted explicitly: all children visit the school library, weekly; all engage in a specific reading challenge to encourage independent and at-home reading; ‘bedtime book boxes’ accompany all our Key Stage 1 children home, at least once per year; monthly Reading Newsletters, circulated to all parents and children, promote in-school activities and suggest ways in which families can support their children’s reading; reading successes are celebrated in weekly ‘celebration assemblies’; Reading Ambassadors (as well as opening the library at lunchtimes and contributing to the Reading Newsletters) become vital reading buddies to younger children; and regular story times introduce a variety of stories to all year groups.
The effectiveness of our English curriculum is regularly assessed and reviewed, in order we ensure that all children are making good progress. At the end of Key Stage 1, through the teaching of systematic phonics, all children will become fluent readers and will have begun their writing journey. By the end of Year 6, our children will share a deep love of reading and will have a good knowledge of a range of diverse authors and texts. They will be able to hold positive conversations, present ideas orally and effectively participate in debates. Our children will be able to write competently, accurately and at length, using a broad and mature vocabulary and, perhaps most importantly, will be able and ready to read and learn in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.