English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. 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. Reading and writing are taught through high-quality texts. Lessons also provide an opportunity for children to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. 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 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.
Literacy at Biggin Hill Primary School
At Biggin Hill Primary School we believe that children should enjoy their learning in order to become enthusiastic and independent readers and writers. We follow units of work from the Literary Curriculum, which are based on high quality texts. Using real books and quality texts allows us to:
- Hook the children and fully engage and interest them
- Respond to reading activities to allow immersion in and exploration of the text, including picture exploration, book and writer talk
- Capture ideas and use activities which include drama and talk to support understanding of the text and to develop vocabulary, language and ideas for writing
- Provide possibilities for the contextualised teaching of grammar
- Use sentence games to develop creativity, vocabulary, language and grammar
- Produce a range of writing tasks which clearly show the children's understanding of their learning journey
In order to fully engage the children with their text they are provided with a hook to interest them. Different examples of these have been: shipwrecking the children on the field, sending them a mystery parcel, giving them a treasure map and receiving a postcard from the character in the text.
Literacy Coverage at Biggin Hill Primary School
The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading).
It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils' competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
It is essential that teaching develops pupils' competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Throughout the programmes of study, teachers should teach pupils the vocabulary they need to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language. It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.
To Enrich the Curriculum
In addition to Literacy lessons, children at Biggin Hill Primary School benefit from a wide range of Literacy enrichment activities:
- To encourage reading for pleasure we run a weekly Reading Cafe in class. During this time children choose from a menu of activities linked to books and reading for pleasure.
- At the end of each term children choose rewards for the final cafe linked to points that are earned from home reading.
- We take part in the annual World Book day each year encouraging children to take part by dressing as their favourite characters. They also carry out activities such as book reviews, writing book endings and shared writing stories across the year groups. A visiting author also talks to the children about their books and how they came up with their ideas.
- Each class has access to a reading area, where children can choose from a range of fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Book recommendations are shared with children through reading assemblies, the reading newsletter and during reading cafes.