English is at the heart of our curriculum and we have updated our provision to ensure that we fully meet the statutory requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum programmes of study. Our English curriculum develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including the communication of their ideas, views and feelings. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in spoken language and writing across a range of different contexts.
At Hearsall Community Academy School, all children participate in a daily English lesson.
In Early Years, children are taught to read using the Floppy phonics programme. This is complemented by additional opportunities to read, write, speak and listen every day, through planned and child-initiated activities linked to stories, poems and curriculum themes.
In Year 1, children complete daily Floppy phonics sessions. These sessions are taught in small focussed ability groups which progress through the programme using its resources and linked texts. Daily English lessons are based around class writing tasks linked to core texts or creative curriculum themes.
In Years 2 to 6, children take part in a daily English lesson, working on units of English linked to core texts, narrative genres, poetry and creative curriculum themes. Lessons focus on one aspect of the teaching sequence for writing (reading, grammar, planning, drafting, editing to improve), leading to purposeful writing outcomes. Children have the opportunity to write at length at least once per fortnight, providing an opportunity to apply skills they have developed in focused English sessions.
In addition to the writing opportunities as part of the English teaching sequence, there are planned activities within the new thematic curriculum to encourage children to apply their writing skills within a context where there is distance from the point of learning. This provides stimulating and purposeful opportunities to write, whilst revisiting and revising previous skills and learning.
Across our whole curriculum at Hearsall Community Academy School, we encourage children to develop confidence in their writing skills through seeking opportunities for purposeful writing. With the raised expectations of the new curriculum, we aim to support our children in becoming confident and proficient writers in all that they do.
Spelling is taught using the National Curriculum Spelling programme. This is begun in Y2, when children are secure with their knowledge and application of phonics, and continues throughout Key Stage 2. Children take part in regular spelling sessions each week, focusing on spelling rules, patterns and conventions as detailed in the 2014 National Curriculum. These sessions also teach strategies for learning statutory word lists for Y2 – Y6. Children take home words to practise in order to consolidate their spelling accuracy. Handwriting is taught regularly, following the school’s handwriting scheme, leading children to the development of a fluent, legible and efficient joined handwriting style.
At Hearsall Community Academy School, children are given opportunities to develop knowledge of different authors, text types and styles of writing in order to foster a real love of reading. The approach taken to the teaching of reading in our school allows us to focus on both of the key dimensions needed to become effective readers – word reading and language comprehension.
Word reading – this involves decoding unfamiliar printed words and quick recognition of familiar printed words. The predominant approach to teaching decoding used is phonics. At Hearsall Community Academy School, Floppy Phonics is used as the core phonics programme. At the end of Year 1 children complete the statutory Phonics Screening Check to assess their ability to decode using phonics.
Language comprehension – this draws from linguistic knowledge (both vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills are taught through shared, guided and independent reading. Children are given opportunities to develop knowledge of different authors and styles of writing in order to foster a love of reading. Our reading spine is used to underpin the English long-term plan, and ensures a balance of classic, contemporary and well-loved fiction, including British and world authors, and includes classic and modern poetry. Children also read a range of non-fiction books, often linked to wider curriculum themes.
Other opportunities for Reading enrichment include taking part in events such as ‘World Book Day’, ‘National Poetry Day’, ‘National Storytelling Week’, ‘Readathon, or the ‘Summer Reading Challenge’. Hearsall Community Academy School also has a school library, run by Mrs Hodierne and the school librarians, which aims to reflect a breadth of reading materials to encourage a real love of reading. Each class visits the school library on a weekly basis and are encouraged to borrow books to share at home.
Children are encouraged to read a range of fiction and non-fiction books to support reading at home and these are organised using the Book Bands System. Home Reading books are chosen from a range of different schemes including Oxford Reading Tree, Big Cat, Pelican, and Heinemann World, and aim to provide a rich and varied diet for all of our readers.