English Curriculum

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Our pupils undertake an exciting, ambitious and diverse English curriculum, brimming with rich sequences of lessons, designed to instil a love of speaking, listening, reading and writing which will last a lifetime. Pupils’ reading and writing skills remain at the forefront of everything we do to support them in addressing disadvantages. Our curriculum prepares them for a highly successful adult life and is vital in ensuring our pupils have access to the whole curriculum. It enhances and improves ‘pupils culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.’ We want our pupils to develop a confident use of punctuation, grammar and accurate spelling of words, and learn a wide range of imaginative, ambitious and judicious language choices. We want pupils to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences, developing an individual flair for the subject. 

Our core text choices enable pupils to explore key themes such as: tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Not only do these themes develop key empathetic characteristics that we strive for in our young people but all of our texts give students the opportunity to explore the importance of social, cultural ideas and ideologies within different settings and different time periods. These books build awareness of social issues whilst continuing to give pupils opportunities to build on their writing and analytical skills. Our study of Shakespeare in KS2 further supports how we shape our pupils to embrace British Values. We’ve logically ordered texts in terms of the events in our pupils’ lives. In year 6, pupils study The Tempest where they can explore family relationships and growing independence.

This highly ambitious approach addresses one of the social disadvantages in our local area. Each of these texts aim to raise the ambitions of our young people. Across all of them, they clearly see the importance of believing in themselves, striving to make the world a better place and can be inspired by the heroes of each text: explorers, teachers and brave risk taskers such as Malala,  intending to pave the way for our young people’s futures.

A key focus, in particular in light of the pandemic and allowing students to prepare for the world of work by exercising mastery over key speaking and listening skills that are required within any workplace. Pupils develop their writing and comprehension skills and refine their skills of writing for specific audiences and purposes. They develop reading skills through a wide-range of nonfiction. One of our main objectives is to simply ensure pupils feel confident, empowered and passionate about our subject. Armed with vital knowledge and a high quality set of skills that they’ve enjoyed accumulating, our pupils are in the best place to begin year 7.

At Molehill Primary Academy, all of our pupils are given the opportunity to become capable readers, writers, spellers and speakers, who can transfer their English skills and knowledge to other curriculum subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their education.

Phonics and Reading

We aim to build a curriculum which develops a love of reading to help pupils know more, remember more, and understand more.The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Phonics is taught daily to all children in KS1. Good phonics teaching enables children to become fluent readers by the age of seven. Phonics is the lifelong skill of encoding (spelling) and decoding (reading). At Molehill Primary Academy, we ensure that children are confident spellers by continuing to teach phonics beyond KS1. Phonics also fosters good speaking and listening skills. 

We follow a systematic synthetic phonics programme; Phonics International (a DfE validated programme). ‘Phonics International (PI) is a highly-organised, systematic and yet flexible online synthetic phonics programme (program)‘.

With synthetic phonics children are taught to read and spell at the same time. They are taught to convert letters into sounds and then blend the sounds to form words. For example c-a-t = cat, or sh-oo-k = shook. It also teaches children to segment (pull apart)’ those sounds in order to spell, using robot arms and then ‘holding up’ the word. For example dot = d-o-t, or cheek = ch-ee-k. 

The PI programme, devised by Debbie Hepplewhite, is made up of 12 units (see Progression document), and has high expectations from the beginning of Reception. Phonics is taught in whole class sessions to ensure that the children are being taught the age appropriate code. We use a two-pronged approach of systematic and incidental teaching. Where intervention is required for those needing additional support or those needing challenge, the same programme is used so that the phonics practice does not become diluted.

Reading 

At Molehill Primary Academy, we believe it is essential for every child to thoroughly enjoy reading. Reading for pleasure is embedded across all of school life, creating a culture of reading. Reading for pleasure helps pupils to access the entire curriculum; builds strategies for learning; and provides them with better life chances. We believe that active encouragement of reading for pleasure is a core part of every pupil’s educational entitlement, whatever their background or attainment, because, as research shows, exposure to a broad range of texts contributes widely to educational achievement. 

Through reading independently, guided, shared and paired reading, children learn to read with confidence, fluency and understanding. They learn to appreciate the joy and wonder of reading, fiction and nonfiction. This is a lifelong skill which will make them secondary ready, and which they will take further into their adult lives.

Writing

All of our pupils will learn to write clearly, with neat and legible handwriting, to spell and use punctuation accurately and to write in grammatically correct sentences. As children enter the Early Years Foundation stage there are mark making and writing opportunities in all areas of learning. In both KS1 and KS2, transcription and composition form the basis for what is taught. Writing takes place in many forms- word and sentence activities, independent, modelled and shared writing. Throughout the week, writing skills are also embedded as part of our inquiry lessons therefore pupils apply the skills they have been taught in all areas of the curriculum. This ensures that children are given the time to generate ideas, conduct research, plan, revise and evaluate their writing. We focus on allowing time to generate ideas so that children can focus on the craft of writing when it comes to recording them. Children are given the opportunity to write for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences as evident in our writing genre document.

Spelling

Through synthetic phonics children are taught the different ways of spelling sounds then apply their growing knowledge to write words and sentences. Alongside decodable words, the reading and spelling of common exception and tricky words are taught. Spelling rules and strategies are introduced in year 2 to help spell accurately. From Year 2 – 6 we use the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme to support delivery in up to three sessions per week. Children learn spelling rules and strategies in a way that is creative and engaging. We encourage children to explore words and develop an understanding of the origins and connections between words.

Vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation

Vocabulary provides the building blocks to language development and in turn, is intimately connected to both effective reading and writing skills. We acknowledge the indispensable need for rich and varied vocabulary for all our children and each member of our staff endeavour to promote this daily. Across the academy, each classroom environment is vocabulary rich. We use dictionaries and chromebooks throughout our day to engage the children with new words. We want all our children to explore vocabulary for themselves. Our aim is that children are able to decipher new words and use them when speaking and writing, both informally and formally.Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are embedded within our English session in addition to teaching grammar and punctuation skills discreetly during SPAG lessons. 

Handwriting

Handwriting is taught throughout both key stages. In Foundation Stage, children develop many pre-writing skills. Correct letter formation is taught in a variety of enjoyable ways. As they progress, children begin to write letters using a variety of materials. Children are taught how to hold their pencil correctly. Children learn to regulate the size of letters which leads to neatly presented work. They are taught to join letters which leads to fluent, legible writing. 

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and Listening are not taught as discrete subjects, but are embedded in all aspects of school life, across all areas of the curriculum and are a part of everything we do. We encourage children to engage in question and interact with both their peers and all adults throughout the school. All are provided with varied contexts for talk enabling them to communicate confidently and effectively. We provide our children with a number of opportunities to develop their language, speaking and listening. They learn to express their ideas verbally, to discuss and debate issues with others and that their choice of language must be varied to reflect the purpose and audience. We recognise that these skills are invaluable to the children living in this modern world.

By the time children leave Molehill Primary Academy, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. They can also read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects on the curriculum, and communicate their research to a wider audience. Pupils make good progress from their own personal starting points. By the end of Year Six they will be able to write clearly and accurately, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Our pupils acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. Most importantly, they will develop a love of reading and writing, becoming well equipped for the rest of their education.