English is an integral part of our curriculum. At Monksmead we want to inspire our pupils to use the vehicle of words to share their ideas, opinions and thoughts about a wide range of topics. To achieve this the cornerstone of our English provision is the frequent and in-depth exploration of high-quality texts that have been chosen to reflect our community of pupils and truly engage them. We place an important emphasis on vocabulary, embracing every opportunity to immerse pupils in unknown but critical words that will allow them to understand a subject, value, or concept to a greater extent. As a priority in their education, we have an unwavering commitment to ensure that every Monksmead pupil will leave our school being a fluent reader having mastered the complex phonetic code to be able to decode words and thereafter to encode for spelling. Reading enables pupils to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know which is vital to ensure achievement across our Monksmead curriculum. At Monksmead, we recognise that all the skills of language are essential to equip our students for participating fully as a member of society.
Our curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Can speak clearly and audibly, taking account of their listeners.
- Acquire a wide vocabulary
- Read fluently and with good understanding
- Can become enthusiastic, confident and independent readers
- Can use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling
- Can re-read, edit and improve their own writing
- Can write clearly in a range of genres with an awareness of their audience
- Enjoy writing, and adapt their writing style for a range of purposes
At Monksmead School, in KS1 and KS2 we use Herts for Learning exemplified planning as
the backbone of our English curriculum. These units are based on inspiring, quality texts that represent the children at our school and appeal to both boys and girls. The lessons cover teaching on a range of reading, grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. Children are encouraged to edit and proofread their writing. From year 2 through to year 6, children use a green pen to make editions to their work. The ‘Herts for learning’ shows a clear progression of skills in reading and writing, allowing children to build on their skills year on year. They are exposed to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts and are given many opportunities to write for different purposes and different audiences.
Children in EYFS and KS1 take part in daily phonics lessons. Teachers follow the ELS (Essential Letters and Sounds) sequence of learning. This scheme supports children in making quick progress to become fluent and confident readers.
ELS has a clear progression of reading books that are phonetically decodable. Books have been carefully aligned so that they specifically match what children have been learning in class. Children in Reception and Year 1 take home a phonetically decodable book, linked to their learning, each Friday. (Further information, including a link to a video, can be seen on both the Reception and Year 1 class pages.)
To support their love of reading, children are also be encouraged to choose a 'sharing book' - this is a book that may or may not be fully decodable but can be enjoyed with parents and family members as a book to read together.
In KS2 children have daily whole-class reading lessons. At Monksmead, we use VIPERS from Literacy Shed Comprehension Plus to help structure the learning and ensure that all key skills are being learnt.
VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards. To support the children in accurately answering comprehension questions, we use A.P.E. This stands for 'Answer', ' Prove it' and 'Explain it'.
Teachers are aware of the importance of reading to their class and this is a priority across the school. Teachers read to their classes daily and this could be the class book, a book recommended by the teacher or the children.
Children have age-appropriate library books within their class and KS2 pupils also have access to a library with a range of different books for them to choose from.
Vocabulary is promoted through displays in class, all curriculum areas, enhancing and encouraging a wider use of vocabulary. There is a ‘word of the week’ that is introduced in assembly. Vocabulary mats are used where necessary and dictionaries and thesauri which are easily accessible for pupils to use.
We follow the National Curriculum for each year group - including Common Exception words and the ‘Year 3 and 4’ and ‘Years 5 and 6’ spelling lists - as well as regularly revising and reviewing previous year group’s patterns and rules.
As a result of our English curriculum, we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. Our pupils acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. They would have been exposed to a large selection of quality fiction, and non-fiction texts and importantly, they will be well prepared for their further education.
The intended impact of the teaching and learning of English at Monksmead School follows our school drivers and incorporates our core values of Respect, Reflect, Believe and Succeed:
- Self-Awareness – Through developing their skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening, children will become aware of the impact that words (both their own words as well as the words of others) have in all areas of their lives, whether through spoken or written language. Our pupils will learn to be aware of their audience and be able to adapt appropriately and respectfully. Our children will be inquisitive and have a positive attitude towards communication in all its formats; they will develop a growth mindset, supporting them to be resilient in their approach to set-backs and to have the confidence to ask for support when needed.
- Embrace differences – Through a rich and diverse English curriculum our children will see and recognise themselves, and those around them, in the stories that they encounter. This will support the children to embrace and celebrate their own, and each other’s, differences. Our children will develop their ability to communicate with clarity and confidence in different circumstances.
- Ambitious to take the next step – Our children will gain a wide variety of skills linked to spoken language, reading and writing skills ready to support them as they take their next steps into the specific realms of wider literature, semantics and nuances of the language as they move to secondary school and beyond. Their high aspirations will inspire them to ‘want to know more’.
- Worldy-Wise – Our children will have a strong understanding and appreciation of how English has a profound impact on every area and stage of our lives as well as the world around us. They will understand how it has helped shape our history, and contributes to the culture, creativity and wealth of our nation. Our children will have the ability to reflect on the impact of English on our everyday lives and the potential impact English may have in the future.