At Elvetham Heath Primary School, we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and speaking and listening. Through the teaching of English, we are equipping children with key life skills enabling them to communicate effectively in a range of both spoken and written forms across all subjects and a range of contexts. Language is fundamental to making meaning and to develop our views and opinions of the world around us, so it is crucial for children to learn to communicate fluently in both spoken and written form. Children are taught using high-quality texts and are immersed in vocabulary-rich learning environments, which ensures curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met. Our English curriculum provides children with all the necessary tools they will need in further education and to participate fully as a member of society.
Speaking and Listening
At Elvetham Heath, we follow the National Curriculum aims to create articulate, confident speakers who are able to express themselves and discuss their opinions clearly, as well as listening effectively to others.
At Elvetham Heath, our aim is for children to develop a life-long love of reading and an understanding that it enables them to access the world around them.
Phonics & Early Reading
Phonics plays an important role in the development of early reading. In Years R and 1, we use a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. All teaching staff are trained to deliver this programme, using resources specifically provide for this rigorous scheme. Find out more here.
In Years R and 1, children have daily phonics sessions during which they learn and practise a clearly sequenced progression of letters and sounds. Their progress is assessed every six weeks. Focussed interventions are used to enable children to keep up and catch up with the pace of the scheme. In June of Year 1, children undertake a Phonics Screening Check to ensure they are secure in Phase 5 Phonics. In Year 2 and thereafter, children move on to learn word spellings and patterns following the National Curriculum, using the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme.
As part of the Little Wandle programme, children read books with a trained adult three times a week. These books are matched to the child’s phonic understanding, so that they encounter words containing the letters and sounds they are secure with. As the children progress through the programme, the books they encounter will increase in phonic complexity to reflect the range of letters and sounds they have been taught.
Once children have successfully completed the Little Wandle phonics programme, they will read a variety of books that are grouped into ability bands. As their reading skills develop, children progress through the bands before becoming ‘free readers’.
At Elvetham Heath, we have a really well stocked library, managed by an experienced librarian. Children of all ages are encouraged to select individual reading books from class and the school library to enjoy during the school day and at home. Children who are confident readers can also select appropriate texts from home.
Reading skills are taught on a regular basis. From Year 2 onwards, we use ‘VIPERS’ (Vocabulary, Infer, Predict, Explain, Retrieve, Sequence/Summarise) as a prompt for helping children develop 6 core reading comprehension skills. Comprehension skills are taught in a variety of ways and across subjects throughout the school. We feel it is important that children acquire a secure understanding of a text and can express their response to a question in both an oral and written format. All English learning journeys have rich texts as a stimulus. A range of texts are looked at throughout the year. Classes will regularly read and share texts in their English learning journeys or when a teacher shares a daily story with the class. This helps the children to experience a wide range of texts and different genres.
Reading opportunities are provided across the whole of our curriculum. Children are actively encouraged to develop a love for the written word and we organise a range of events and activities to promote reading. Children have at least a weekly opportunity to visit the school library and regular story time takes place in all classes. We support World Book Day and visiting authors. In the past, Simon Philip, Guy Bass, M.P. Robertson and Michael Rosen have visited us!
Reading Bookworm Badges
As a school, we run a Bookworm Badge scheme to create a reading culture within our children – it is designed to encourage children to read at home, encourage parents to be aware of the reading their child does and to promote a love of reading. Children are awarded a bronze badge when they achieve 50 reads, a silver badge after 100 reads and a gold badge for 150 reads. Further reading successes are recognised with certificates and bookmark.
At Elvetham Heath, our aim is to support children to communicate through the written word, enjoying writing for a range of purposes and audiences.
Shared and Guided Writing
Shared and Guided writing takes place regularly in classrooms as a whole class and in small groups. This forms part of the taught English learning journeys where a class teacher will model an example of writing to the whole class. It is then used to support children’s writing in the development of different forms, styles and genres. A class teacher or TA may work with a small group of children to guide them through the writing process. Children have opportunities to work through and refine the writing process, including plan, draft, edit, proof-read and publish their work.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
As the children move through the school, new aspects of grammar and punctuation are introduced and previously taught aspects are revisited and developed.
From Year 2, spelling rules and patterns are taught during spelling lessons and revisited throughout the curriculum. Children are given the opportunity to investigate, practise and apply rules and patterns. Weekly homework provides further opportunities to learn these rules. Phonics is used and referred to throughout all spelling teaching.
At Elvetham Heath, we aim for children to write in a fluent, joined style which is neat and attractive, allowing children to communicate meaning through writing quickly and effectively. The ‘Penpals’ scheme is used to support the teaching and learning of handwriting. This allows for a consistent approach and progression of handwriting skills across the school. Children are awarded handwriting certificates when they reach certain milestones in handwriting. In Year R, gross and fine motor skills are practised through a wide range of activities. Fine motor skills continue to be practised for those children who need it and Penpals includes fine and gross motor warm ups.