ATW English At Atwood Primary School your child will be supported in their learning of English – from the earliest lessons in phonics through to independent writing and reading and appreciation of quality texts as an experienced reader. “All you need is some imagination, some ideas and some determination and you too can write stories.” Malorie Blackman children’s author. English has a pre-eminent place in both education and society. Atwood aims to offer a high-quality education in English which will teach our pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others through their reading and listening and so that others can communicate with them in return. Through reading in particular, our pupils will have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in our children’s development. Reading enables our pupils to both acquire knowledge and build upon what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; our pupils who do not speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised which is a position that no member of the Atwood team will accept. Atwood follows the National Curriculum for English and we aim to ensure that all pupils: Read easily, fluently and with good understanding; Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information; Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language; Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage; Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences; Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas; Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. Reading intent At Atwood, as a school within the Pegasus Academy Trust, your child will be supported in their journey as a reader – from the earliest lessons in phonics through to independent reading and the appreciation of quality texts as an experienced reader. We recognise that the best way to ensure our children are engaged with books and motivated to read is to ensure the subject matter of the books that we use in school is tailored to be both aspirational and relevant for the children we teach. We believe that all children should have the skills necessary to read fluently and with understanding. We want our children to develop the habit of reading widely and often and we think carefully about designing opportunities each day where they can do so. In this way we believe that by the time they leave us to go to secondary school they will be well equipped to appreciate our rich, diverse and varied literary heritage and will have developed the habits of reading for both pleasure and information. Writing intent Atwood follows the National Curriculum for English and we aim to ensure that all pupils: Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences; Use discussion in order to learn – they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas; Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language; Understand that if they can think it, they can say it and write it. Atwood children are proficient writers who are able to write in a wide variety of contexts. They consider their audience and are able to make precise vocabulary and grammatical decisions. They are able to independently edit for mistakes and improvement, and recognise the distinction between the two editing styles. Children present their work neatly and with cursive handwriting in KS2. Atwood writers see themselves as ‘real writers’ from the beginning, able to produce meaningful and useful work in a variety of situations, including in other curriculum areas. Reading Implementation Children at Atwood have daily access to focused reading activities which include: structured synthetic phonics to teach reading skills throughout the primary age range – with attention given to those who are new to our schools and new to English; decodable home reading books that match each pupil’s cumulative phonics knowledge are allocated by teachers. Decodable e-books are also allocated to pupils for access at home and at school; pupils at risk of not keeping up are quickly identified and supported – receiving ongoing phonics interventions and small booster groups. Appropriately matched books are allocated to these pupils; reading lessons in all classes are delivered with rigour, teaching the skills required to access and understand a wide range of age appropriate fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts. In KS1 reading is taught in guided groups to enable the close matching of texts to pupils’ reading abilities. In KS2 reading is taught in a whole class approach with learning centred around a suitably challenging text; each class has a well-stocked book corner, with books regularly rotated and promoted via displays and recommendations. Pupils have daily access to browse, select and change reading books; books read in class are linked to the writing subsequently taught and children learn that writing varies depending on audience and purpose. Pupils become knowledgeable about different literary styles, authors, poets and genres; they can express preferences and give opinions about different texts; pupils are exposed to a variety of genres as they move through the school and learn that writing varies depending on audience and purpose. Pupils become knowledgeable about different literary styles, authors, poets and genres; they can express preferences and give opinions about different texts; home reading is further supported through the use of home reading journals which parents and carers are encouraged to comment in. Writing implementation Teaching follows a three-week cycle: Imitation – week 1; Innovation – week 2; Invention – week 3. Phase 1: Imitation Stage. Using the text as a model for learning. Writing outcome: retelling the model text in own words. Phase 2: Innovation Stage. Building learning through skills practise and planning. ‘Tweaking’ the original model text. Phase 3: Invention Stage. Displaying the skill in own writing of an independent piece Children begin by exploring a carefully chosen, high quality text and progress towards learning it off by heart through drama and story mapping. Children then explore ‘tweaks’ to the modelled text and experiment with making changes to the text before writing their very own versions. Model texts, which form the foundation of each 3-week unit, are carefully selected or written by the teacher. They: Are pitched above the pupil’s level; Contain model examples of the skills focus; Are relevant to a topic that is being studied; Contain high-quality vocabulary. All children have a ‘skills focus’, taken from the National Curriculum, which is their main thread for learning for 3-weeks. By the end of the third week, children should be secure with the ‘skills focus’ and able to apply it independently and in future writing. Shared reading and writing within the classroom is a daily part of classroom practice as is the importance of ‘talk for writing’. Atwood writers orally rehearse our stories and texts before writing, using opportunities to up-level ideas and vocabulary from plan to page. Likewise, Atwood writers edit for mistakes in mini-plenaries and at the end of writing sessions, and edit for improvement by reading through, by checking, by using the thesaurus, with an eye on audience, purpose and the context under focus. Reading Impact The impact on our pupils of our bespoke approach to reading is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills enabling all pupils to gain cultural capital regardless of their starting point. We hope that, as pupils move on from our school to further their education and learning, their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do. Writing impact The impact of the writing approach we have developed at Atwood is an inclusive structure which supports all writers, that allows our children to learn and develop the writing skills prescribed in the National Curriculum, and to write confidently in a range of contexts. It is our aspiration that children leave Atwood with a range of texts they have created which they are proud of, with a grounding in audience and purpose, and with the skills of good writers – to edit, to explore both story ideas and vocabulary, and to make intelligent and skilful writing choices when writing in secondary education and beyond. In writing, we use a developmental approach which encourages children’s independence from the first meaningful mark making through to making final, presentation pieces in the later stages of the writing process. This approach allows us to introduce and build rules of spelling and punctuation and grammar according to the child’s level of understanding and readiness. We aim to provide a wide range of opportunities for the children to write purposefully for different audiences. We encourage children to see themselves as ‘real writers’ from the beginning, able to produce meaningful and useful work in a variety of situations, including in other curriculum areas. Shared reading and writing within the classroom is a daily part of classroom practice as is the importance of ‘talk for writing’. Writing is taught across the school in three stages of writing: ‘Imitation’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Invention’. Children begin by exploring a carefully chosen, high quality text and progress towards learning it off by heart through drama and story mapping. Children then explore ‘tweaks’ to the modelled text and experiment with making changes to the text before writing their very own versions. Writing lessons are designed to develop specific aspects of grammar that are appropriate to the year group, where grammar skills and books are carefully selected to ensure a clear progression of skills throughout the school. We value good presentation here at Atwood and particular attention is paid to the development of cursive (joined) handwriting. Children at Atwood are taught to control a pencil and form letters correctly, starting in the right place and continuing in the right direction. Every class has formal handwriting practice on a weekly basis and it is our expectation that all children use a handwriting pen by the end of Year 4. Please note, that we do not allow our children to write in Biro, instead we use blue Berol handwriting pens. Phonics Since 2010, the UK government has sought to embed the teaching of phonics in all primary schools and in 2021 updated the way in which it validated a number of ‘Systematic Synthetic Phonics’ (SSP) teaching programmes. Our chosen scheme ‘Little Wandle’, developed by a South London teaching school, was approved for use and we began using it from January 2022. Development of phonics skills Pupils begin in EYFS by being taught phonics as well as being encouraged to take on the role of ‘the reader’ in school by emulating how skilled Early Years practitioners read aloud. During this stage there is a lot of talking between child and adult about what is going on in the book – the earliest stage of comprehension. Pupils are able to retell stories using role play and enjoy whole class shared reading and being read to by adults. Favourite books may be read many times over. As pupils move into Key Stage One, the teaching of reading strategies continues alongside a systematic approach to phonics. We have timetabled phonics sessions every day for children of this age and there is an assessment of progress in Year 1. Alongside the systematic phonics work undertaken in the EYFS and KS1 there is a focus on fluency and the reading of high frequency and common exception words. Comprehension skills are explicitly taught through a variety of texts used in class that include fiction, non-fiction and poetry. During Key Stage Two, children’s comprehension skills are further developed through the teaching of new vocabulary in context. Pupils are taught the skills of retrieval, use of prior knowledge and inference through whole class reading sessions that use a wide variety of challenging and interesting texts. Spelling and Handwriting At Atwood, our children are encouraged to attempt their own spellings when drafting their work in order to encourage confidence and independence. Children and teachers proof-read writing and at this stage, there is the necessity to correct spellings. Our children are actively encouraged to use dictionaries to both look up the spellings of words they do not yet know, and check their own writing for possible spelling errors. At Atwood we follow the No Nonsense Spelling Programme which has a detailed curriculum for each year group. Following this programme, teachers regularly assess children on words within particular spelling patterns, as well as those on the Years 3 and 4 and Year 5 and 6 spelling lists. Handwriting is an essential skill that supports the transcription and spelling element of the National Curriculum for English. At Atwood, we teach children the skills to form letters correctly and join clearly and fluently. This supports all children in achieving the expected end of Key Stage 2 standard “Write neatly and maintain legibility in joined writing when writing at speed.” In the Early Years Foundation Stage, letter formation is taught starting with print. Cursive script is introduced for some children later in the reception year when they are showing the required level of fine motor skills. In Year 1, children are introduced to cursive letter formation and are expected to form capital letters and digits that are the right size and orientated correctly. Letters should also be the correct size in relationship to one another. In Year 2, children begin to join and are introduced to diagonal and horizontal strokes to help them join some letters. Their writing should also use spaces between the words that reflect the size of their letters. In order to meet the expected standard for the end of Key Stage 1, children must meet these expectations. In Years 3 and 4, children work on developing a fluent, joined and legible style of writing that enables them to write neatly at speed. In Year 3, there may be some inconsistencies in letter formation and size but this should be consistent by the end of Year 4. Neat handwriting is also an essential element of editing and improving work so that changes can clearly and easily be read. In Years 5 and 6, children will begin to develop a personal style to their handwriting. In order to meet the expected standard for Key Stage 2, children must write neatly and maintain legibility when writing at speed.