English

At West Heath Primary School, we believe that literacy is a fundamental, universal life skill. Competence in English enables children to, not only, communicate but also collaborate effectively at home, at school and in the wider world and it leads to improved life opportunities.  Developing the life-long skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing enables children to organise and express their own thoughts and to access the knowledge and ideas of others.  We believe that reading is at the centre of learning and that the ability to respond to literature at a personal and aesthetic level enriches our children’s lives.  In striving to inspire and motivate our children, we use a wide range of quality literature from many different cultures and historical contexts – both literature written specifically for children as well as numerous other texts aimed at a more general audience.  This, we believe, enables children to gain empathy, demonstrate tolerance and consider other perspectives so they can better understand themselves and the world in which they live.

At West Heath Primary School, we will facilitate our vision for English mastery through:

Speaking and Listening

Effective speaking and listening underpins everything we do, in all curriculum areas.

Staff at West Heath:

  • Expect children to speak in full sentences in all contexts - both when asking and answering questions.

  • Give children opportunities to talk about decisions they make, and to ask and answer questions.

  • Give pupils opportunities to talk about their work and the work of others.

  • Give pupils opportunities to perform their own work.

  • Give pupils opportunities to participate in performances of poetry, presentations, class assemblies, Christmas plays and school productions.

  • Promote talk during shared and guided reading lessons.

  • Ensure that weekly circle times give the children the opportunity to express and justify their views.

  • Use strategies, such as hot seating and conscience alley, to develop reasoned speaking and listening.

  • Set up formal discussions and debates to talk about real or imagery issues arising in a range of different contexts.

  • Set up ‘The Big Question’ as outlined in Literacy and Language planning.

Reading

Children read daily in the classroom; they read during independent, one to one, shared or guided reading sessions.  Children are encouraged to read a range of books both in school and at home and communication between staff and parents is facilitated through our Passport to Success system.  Children also have the opportunity to listen to teachers read in English lessons, other curriculum subjects, whole school assemblies, as well as story sessions.

Regular guided reading sessions enable the children to develop their comprehension skills through a highly structured approach.  Children are grouped according to ability and are shown how to read  individual texts with speed, stamina and understanding in mind.  Comprehension questions are then independently answered, in full sentences, enabling children to learn the skill of justifying their responses with close reference to the text.  Children also relate reading to understanding the meaning of words in context as well a writer’s use of specific grammar and answer relevant questions accordingly.   

Writing

Through our ‘Literacy and Language’ scheme for each specific year group,  this layered approach enables children to develop drama and discussion techniques, build comprehension skills and learn appropriate grammar in context in order to write.  Each unit is split into a two-week fiction unit (comprising of reading for one week and writing for one week) and a one week non-fiction unit.  Once the two-week fiction unit has been completed, children in each year group will, over the course of an additional week, be guided in planning, drafting, editing and redrafting an extended piece of creative writing linked to the unit and/or the class topic.  The non-fiction part of the unit will then be completed and followed with a further creative writing task, again to be completed over the course of a week, linked to the non-fiction genre studied.  It is envisaged that some of the writing the children redraft will be further redrafted for the purpose of display, either in the classroom or within the school environment.  

In this way, children write to express their emotions, convey their thoughts and opinions and to present evidence of research.  By developing these skills, we seek to equip our children to write fluently across a range of curricular activities.  Children are encouraged to:

  • Write independently, gradually developing the range and extent of their writing.  Word banks, dictionaries and thesauri are available for children in all key stages.

  • Orally rehearse before planning, drafting and revising texts.

  • Use classroom displays, which contain language to support writing.

  • Develop their own ‘writer’s voice’ after using ideas from the modelled, shared, guided and independent writing sessions, which take place across all age groups every week.

  • Write in different genres for different purposes and audiences.

  • Proof-read and edit their own work in order to identify misconceptions, extend their ideas and correct spellings, punctuation and grammar.

  • Redraft their edited work into a final piece, which may displayed in the classroom, made into a class book or added to the website.

  • Read their writing out loud in order to make sure it makes sense.