At Orchard Junior School we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to be able to use discussion to communicate and further their learning.
The National Curriculum for English aims 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 type
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.
At Orchard, these aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children.
In writing, we follow the process of exploring/discussing, planning, writing and editing. Model and shared writing is consistently part of the writing learning process, giving children many opportunities to access and collaborate in producing high level vocabulary and grammatical structures within different genres. A variety of scaffolds from word banks to literacy toolkit books are used for each stage of the writing process supporting children to reach their full writing potential in each lesson. Writing is celebrated through displays and assemblies.
The teaching of phonics is fundamental to reading and we are not naive to think that some children will not join us with a secure grasp of phonics. The school, in a reaction to the pandemic, has recently invested in using the Essential Letters and Sounds programme (January 2022), where there is a clear structure and sequence for the teaching of phonics. Our first priority is to help the children to decode. Pupils always read books that are sound matched until they are fluent decoders. Once the children are efficient decoders, we work on fluency and comprehension.
Through independent reading, reading skills lessons, shared reading in English and cross-curricular sessions, guided reading groups and reading for pleasure, reading throughout the school is progressive and develops and extends the skills that acquired in previous years.
Children explore a wide variety of genre, both fiction and non-fiction, which allows them to access, input ideas and understand what they are reading. They are given opportunities to speculate on the vocabulary, tone and purpose, themes and audience of texts they explore as well as consider, in depth, what impact the author was intending to have on the reader.
We also provide a wealth of enrichment opportunities including having themed book and writing weeks and days.
By the time our children leave Orchard, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres 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.
In writing, the impact on our children at Orchard is shown through progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing process being well established and taught thoroughly, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards are improving and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and vocabulary objectives. We hope that as children move on from us 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.