A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. The writing programmes of study are constructed into two major themes: composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing) and transcription (spelling and handwriting). Our broad and balanced curriculum provides our children with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to develop into well rounded, informed individuals. High quality text form the core of our English curriculum providing our children with opportunities to read and write across a range of contexts and for different purposes and in response to a variety of exciting first hand experiences.
Reading is a fundamental skill, enabling children to access not just their curriculum subjects, but allowing them to comprehend the world around them. We have placed reading at the heart of our curriculum. A positive attitude and genuine love of literature can often be hard to instil so we look for every opportunity to support children in developing their literary horizons.
The English National Curriculum has an overview of the grammatical terms that needs to be introduced per year. We use the correct terminology as children need to become very familiar with it. New content in grammar is taught explicitly and then regularly referred to in normal teaching throughout the year. This revision is used as a lesson starter, as well as referred to in modelled writing opportunities. In addition to the year’s content, teachers will constantly refer back to the grammar knowledge children have developed in previous years.
Spelling is based on the National Curriculum respective year group levels. For each week's spelling list, a lesson in school focusing on the spelling ‘rule’ (i.e. adding –s or –es on plurals), coupled with an online platform allowing children to embed their newly-learned skills by practising and applying the rules.
Good handwriting is an essential skill in the quest to spell and write fluently, confidently and competently. The style is taught as separate letters at first – not letter strings – and all the letters with their diagonal lead-in joins are taught to proficiency and automaticity before starting to join the letters into words.
We use the systematic Read Write Inc. program for our phonics teaching. Read Write Inc. starts within our Nursery when the children are ready, and continues throughout Reception classes and into Year 1. Some children will continue to have some specific phonics teaching from Year 2 upwards.
As part of Read Write Inc, phonic books are closely matched to children’s increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with this, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice. To help secure a successful transition into Year 2, Read Write Inc is used for the first half term instead of Whole Class Guided Reading. Once children’s knowledge is secure, class teaching moves towards a mix of small group and whole class guided reading.
Each class has at least four whole class guided reading sessions per week. The purpose of them is to improve vocabulary comprehension and application, explicitly teach reading strategies and widen background knowledge. Sessions are based on both the class novel and alternate texts. Subject specific strategies linked to content domains including retrieval, inference, prediction and summarisation are taught as both stand-alone lessons and in combination with each other.
The students here at DPA produce thoroughly independent writing, which is inspired by the rich diet of high quality texts which sit the heart of both our reading and writing curriculum. A love of reading is promoted to the extent that children champion specific authors (S F Said and Peter Brown, to name but two) throughout the key stages, through social media and various writing outcomes.
Confidence in composition is what we strive for in; all the way from the oracy in EYFS to sophisticated prose in Year 6. This is supported by fluid transcription skills and a thorough understanding of the purpose and audience of a text, which creates effective, well-rounded writers and readers.
From nursery to Reception, the early years team deliver an immersive spine of reading which fosters a deep love of stories and storytelling in our students. They can speak confidently about their favourite characters, and retell classic stories orally; oracy lies at the core of our EYFS programme, as rich vocabulary comes from a love of stories, and great writing comes from a command of language.
Key Stage One develops this programme by building a solid foundation of grammatical skills from which our students can gain confidence. The students produce writing which increases their stamina and transcription, as well as composition, by producing both narrative and non-fiction texts inspired by a range of stimuli.
Key Stage Two sees our writers exposed to the a healthy diet of high quality texts, through whole class guided reading and the daily English lessons. As students progress through this phase, they will produce narrative and non-narrative writing through an "immerse, draft, publish" approach. These are the skills which will prepare them for the new challenges that secondary school brings upon leaving DPA.
Our library is open to all children in the school. Children are allowed to borrow any book within the library, giving them access to a greater range of genres than those found on their class book corners. As well as children's novels; we have magazines, graphic novels, picture books and an extensive non-fiction section.
The library is staffed by Mrs Hearn and our team of 'Junior Librarians'. Their responsibilities include:
Restocking books when returned
Helping issue books during lunchtimes when the library is open
Helping children choose new reading books when they are stuck
Sorting new books into their correct placements
Tidying the library, ensuring it looks as neat as possible
With over 10,000 children's books published each year, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start picking the next read. Although the class reading corners and library are well stocked, this is only a small selection of children's literature. Below are some links and suggestions that offer guidance on where to start.
Updated October 2023