English / Literacy
Queens’ Federation: English Subject Statement
At the Queens’ Federation we aim to foster ‘Learning for Life.’
We will provide a rich, relevant and inspirational curriculum that promotes a lifelong love of learning and equips our pupils with the key knowledge and understanding, skills and personal qualities that they will need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Our curriculum is designed to be relevant to our children and is linked to the context of our school and the local community.
Learning to read and write well are two of the most important skills that children develop in primary school. At the Queens’ Federation, the development of these crucial life skills is one of our highest priorities. It is our aim that all pupils will:
- read fluently, with enjoyment and good understanding
- write clearly, accurately and creatively, sharing their ideas with confidence
- speak confidently and listen to others carefully and with respect
The development of reading fluency, confidence and understanding is a key priority at the Queens’ Federation. It is our aim to foster a lifelong love of reading in all pupils and believe that reading is key for academic success. We aim to provide pupils with a literacy-rich environment, high quality texts and inspiring learning opportunities.
We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning that make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through phonics pupils learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics has a high priority in school.
Spelling and Writing
Pupils will be able to communicate their knowledge, ideas and thoughts through their writing. Our pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and will be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn. Pupils will write clearly, accurately and coherently in a range of contexts and for different purposes and audiences. We intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing. Pupils will be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a fluent and legible joined handwriting style by the time they enter KS2.
Speaking and Listening
We recognise how vital spoken language skills are for pupils and want to equip them with the tools they need to be heard, not just in school, but in their future career and life. The ability to speak eloquently, articulate ideas and thoughts, collaborate with peers and have the confidence to express your views are all vital life skills that support successful learning for life.
Reading is a fundamental part of childhood and we aim to develop life-long readers. Pupils have the opportunity to read in school at different times of the day in a variety of different ways. Whole class guided reading sessions focus on the development of key reading skills – Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summarising (VIPERS). In addition to this, individual reading, whole class ‘Raving About Read’ sessions, reading buddy sessions and access to high quality texts across the curriculum all promote the development of reading. Attractive and inviting reading environments, including our school libraries, contain a wide range of books and reading materials suitable for all ages. Reading is also promoted through author visits and the celebration of reading events such as World Book Day.
High quality texts are used as starting points for each English unit of work. Through studying each text, pupils will learn about a specific genre or style of writing. They will be immersed in this type of writing, learning how to replicate features, exploring the writing structure and identifying purpose and audience. Lessons are planned using a three-phase cycle, closely linked to Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing approach:
- Imitation – the ability to learn a model text
- Innovation – the ability to adapt a well-known model text in order to create a new one
- Invention – the ability to draw upon the full range of texts and life experience to create something new
Where possible, writing is given a real purpose and the pupils are provided with the opportunity to write from first-hand experience through the use of visits and visitors. The teaching of writing is often cross-curricular and links to our topics.
Pupils learn spellings at home and these are embedded in learning the following week in school. Spelling is taught daily in KS1, in Phonics or spelling lessons and weekly in KS2. Pupils who require additional support with spelling receive a variety of interventions that are tailored to address their individual needs.
Beginning in EYFS and continuing throughout KS1 and where necessary in KS2, pupils receive daily systematic teaching of synthetic phonics, following the progression set out in the DfE publication Letters and Sounds. Early reading materials are closely linked to phonic knowledge. Once pupils can decode fluently, reading books are organised according to the national book-banding colour scheme. A number of different high-quality schemes are used throughout the school. Parents are provided with comprehensive guidance about how best to support the acquisition of phonic knowledge and all stages of reading at home. Pupils are supported and encouraged to read regularly both at home and at school.
The development of speaking and listening skills is integral to pupil progress in all areas of the curriculum. Planned experiences such as the use of talking partners, paired and collaborative activities, the giving and receiving of instructions, presentation of learning and drama activities all support our aim for pupils to become confident speakers and listeners. Skill development is enriched by opportunities for pupils to develop these key skills outside of the curriculum. Opportunities include assemblies, class assemblies, pupil leadership groups, pupil voice activities, extra-curricular and phase group productions.
Formative assessment takes place on a daily basis through observation of, in questioning and in conversation with pupils and in the production of written outcomes. Termly summative reading and writing assessments enable pupils to demonstrate their understanding of taught concepts. Both formative and summative assessments feed into the planning process ensuring that high quality teaching supports the needs of all pupils at all times. The Year 1 Phonics Check and end of key stage assessments measure school attainment against national outcomes.
By the end of their school experience, pupils at the Queens’ Federation will be confident, fluent readers who enjoy reading a wide range of reading materials. They will view reading as an essential life skill which enables them to unlock learning in all areas of the curriculum.
Pupils will also have developed the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard. They will become fluent, independent writers who are able to express their thoughts and ideas through writing and will see themselves as authors. They will write clearly and accurately and be able to adapt their language and style of writing for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
By the time they leave the Queens’ Federation, pupils will be able to speak articulately with confidence and clarity. They will recognise the importance of listening in conjunction with speaking and will be confident in the value of their own opinions. Pupils will be able to adapt their use of language to suit a range of different purposes and audiences.
The achievement of these aims will ensure that pupils become confident readers, writers, speakers and listeners ready for the challenges of the next phase of their education and beyond.
Information for Parents
Supporting your child in English
One of the most important things that you can do to help your child succeed at school is to read to them and hear them read regularly. Sharing and discussing books together makes a huge contribution to a child’s language development, whether they are at the very early stages of learning to decode words in Reception, or reading more fluently in the older classes. Your child’s class teacher will be happy to talk to you about how you can support your child individually with their reading.
We have compiled lists of recommended books for children in Years 3 to 6. They are all books they have read, loved and will help us to ensure every child learns to enjoy reading. If you have a book token for a present or just want to buy a new book as a treat, please consult the lists to help with your choice.
Obviously, the lists are not exhaustive and you may also have favourites which you might like to share with us. We are very happy to keep adding to our recommendations.
The most important learning skill a children acquires in primary school is a love of reading. It is the foundation for all the work they will do in the future. As well as your children reading the books you too might want to help inspire your children by reading to them or sharing books together. If you read a book from the year above you will be helping embed the ideas, vocabulary and sentence structure your child will be reading in the future.
For more information please click on the link to view our Reading and Writing Policies on our Policies page.
Examples of Learning
World Book Day 2022!
Everyone in Queen Edith celebrated World Book Day with a whole week of events! Each year group read ‘We’re All Wonders’ written by R J Palacio.
We’re All Wonders is a text for younger readers based on Wonder and shows what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world – a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way. We discussed themes of belonging, being seen, empathy, difference and kindness. Each year group had a project that they carried out linked to this text.
Nursery painted beautiful self-portraits with the title We’re All Wonders.
Reception children wrote individual letters to Mrs Jarman telling her how they are all special.
In Years 1 & 2, children used the text to inspire them and wrote their own recipes for kindness, to create a kind person.
In Year 3, they wrote a letter from Auggie to his friends on Pluto, exploring his experiences and feelings. They started when people were mean to him, then looked at visiting Pluto, to making his first friend who saw him as a wonder.
Year 4 created a diary entry, empathising with the main character of August, revealing his emotions both before and after his first day of school. They also wrote a letter to the Plutonians to show how Auggie was feeling after making new friends.
In Later Years, pupils used both We’re All Wonders and the original story of Wonder to look at inferences within reading, family dynamics, anti-bullying targets, emotive language and diary entries. We chose one of the children from Auggie’s school tour and wrote as one of them, framing our writing from a different perspective, not that of the protagonist. Some chose Julian, the school bully; Charlotte, the friendly but self-obsessed drama fanatic, or Jack Will, the friendly boy who sees with kindness and becomes Auggie’s best friend.
Our Book Fair was a huge success with us receiving ‘rewards’ per class for books to choose for our book shelves and also ‘rewards’ for us to spend on widening our representation of texts. Thank you to all who bought books and, in turn, supported the school!
Varying sentence lengths for effect
In English, just after Halloween, Year 6 were tasked to create a short paragraph that was as scary as possible, placing emphasis on certain words or pauses that would affect the reader. We wrote these in an eerie silence, then read them aloud in darkness with just a torch to set the mood.
Here are some of our paragraphs – which one do you think is most effective and why?
One soundless night, I was walking through a pitch-black alleyway to get home. I felt a shadow move. I turned as quick as a flash. There was nothing. I took a deep breath. Suddenly, there was a bang! What could it be? A light flickered in the creepy alleyway. SP
The pitch-black woods shadowed the figure behind me. You could only just make out the looming trees which covered the forest. I thick brown blanket of leaves lay on the ground. I sprinted. Should I stop? I knew I was being followed. The only light guiding me was the bright moon and the gentle breeze made my golden hair blow. I stopped. The leaves rustled. I turned slowly to see that the figure had stopped too. My heart was pounding and the wind was now howling. I felt the cold air slap against my face. Suddenly, I heard a bloodcurdling scream… SC
Suddenly, the door closed. Bang!! We realised that we were trapped inside as we tried to open the door but it was locked. A light flickered then a shadow moved. It came closer and closer. I looked away for a moment. With fear, I felt someone breathing down my neck. MM
I walked slowly down the crumbled, rocky path. Straining my ears, I tried to hear a scuffle of footsteps or a coat rustling in the wind, but I heard nothing. Suddenly, a flicker of light caught my eye. Slowly, I turned around… Behind me stood a tall, thin stranger, wearing only black. Deep cuts scarred his pale, white face and where his eyes should have been were two empty, black holes that seemed to stare into my soul. Heart pounding, I turned and quickened my pace. So did the stranger.