The Teaching of English at St Augustine’s
Our English lessons closely reflect National Curriculum objectives, and develop spoken language, reading and phonics, writing, grammar, spelling and vocabulary, all driven by quality texts that we love. Lessons use a mix of Write Stuff and Talk for Writing approaches, with direct teaching of objectives and a heavy emphasis on modelling of writing by the teacher. Children are taught the ‘shape’ of text types, and learn the building blocks they need to write their own. Lessons build towards a final piece of independent writing which showcases children’s acquired knowledge, skills and understanding. Each lesson includes appropriate support and extension to ensure all children can achieve to the best of their abilities. There are then planned opportunities to apply this knowledge to writing across the curriculum, and therefore transfer key knowledge to long-term memory. We develop children’s writing skills so that they have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard.
Long-term plan: Units of work are carefully planned across the school to ensure coverage of genres, and usually last between 2-4 weeks. We use high quality texts that motivate and inspire the children including, for example, a different Shakespearean play in each KS2 year group, modern classics such as A Monster Calls, and favourites like The Iron Man and Supertato. Inbetween units of work we give children the opportunity to write independently in their Writer’s Anthology, using their own choice of genre and subject. This supports the development of the child’s own writer’s voice, and gives a valuable opportunity to evidence progress. The Long-term Plan and year group Planning Documents are designed to support the teaching of skills with clear progression. This is then reflected in our Teacher Assessment Framework grids, used for assessing writing.
We strongly agree with the statement by James Britton that ‘Reading and writing float on a sea of talk’. We are ‘Vocabulary Ninjas’ and introduce and explore new words daily, and all adults use aspirational vocabulary when talking to children – ‘never dodge a good word’, Our lessons, English and across the curriculum, are drenched in vocabulary – the introduction of new words, the discerning gathering of wordbanks, practise and application. Every class from Y2 upwards has thesauruses and dictionaries on tables during lessons and the children are encouraged to use them to enrich their writing. We encourage the correct use of Standard English.
Spelling: We are Spelling Stingers! Our Spelling programme has a wasp theme, to link to our local rugby team Wasps. We launched this initiative to raise the profile of spelling with a visit from the rugby mascot Sting himself! Each week there is a taught spelling focus in lessons. We use the Rising Stars scheme which follows the NC Appendix of spelling rules, and teach Common Exception Words and utility words that the children need for verbal and written explanations of learning. Every child has a Spelling Journal where they practise their spellings at home, ready for their weekly test. The Journal includes advice for parents and ideas on how to learn rules and words. The class with the highest weekly average score wins a prize. Within written work, teachers identify three spelling errors for children to correct.
Grammar, punctuation: Grammar and punctuation are taught within lessons, through direct teaching and within the modelling of writing. Teachers use our NC-aligned Grammar trackers to ensure progression. Every class has the appropriate Grammar tracker displayed for quick reference. We have high expectations of correct grammar and punctuation and this is reflected in the marking of work.
Handwriting: we teach handwriting using the Nelson Handwriting scheme, with correct letter formation as the initial focus, leading to the introduction of cursive handwriting in Y2. We teach specific lessons every week with practise time. For those children for whom handwriting presents difficulties, we provide small group handwriting activities using warm-up techniques. Pen licences are awarded by the Headteacher to children who show a consistently beautiful script across all of their written work.
We have Information Leaflets for parents on Reading, Writing and Spelling available in the school reception area.