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The Winchcombe School

Improving As One

English

What is our Philosophy?

At The Winchcombe School, we see English as a language. We strongly believe that spoken language, reading, phonological awareness and spelling drive and help shape the writing process. Our English curriculum develops each child’s love for reading, writing and the spoken language. We immerse pupils in the wonders of quality books to instil a love for reading and writing; a confidence to explore their imagination through chosen texts, suitable for each year group. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in language and literacy which helps them to become confident communicators.

What is taught?

Reading and writing are taught and practised daily following the National Curriculum programme of study for each year group. Our English curriculum is taught through the following strands: spoken language, reading, spelling, writing and grammar. Sometimes these strands are taught discretely and other times they are interwoven into the fabric of the rest of the curriculum.

How it’s taught?

Spoken Language

Starting in Early Years, there is a strong oral approach using a range of resources and techniques such as:

  • Chatterboxes
  • Story sacks
  • Helicopter stories

We use the ECAT (Every Child A Talker) approach when we identify children who will benefit from it. Additionally, we use Makaton alongside songs and stories. 

Moving into Key Stage one, children are encouraged to participate in class discussions, to listen to others and to express their ideas. These foundations are further developed in Key Stage two.

In the next academic year, we will be developing elements from the ‘Voice 21’ using the four strands of the framework: Physical, Linguistic, Cognitive and Social and Emotional.

Oracy

What is our Philosophy?

At ‘The Winchcombe School’, we see good oracy skills as the basis for improved learning opportunities across the board.  We want every child to benefit from an oracy rich environment, every child to have a voice and every child to be empowered with the tools for effective talk.  Good speaking and listening skills are vital for learning and we are on a journey towards embedding oracy into all areas of our curriculum with the support of Voice 21 (a national charity set up to assist schools with providing a high quality oracy education, both for their current learning and for their futures). We believe that by building a positive culture of oracy within our school, we can improve our childrens’ confidence and spoken and written language skills across and beyond the curriculum. 

What is taught?

Our aim is for purposeful and effective talk to be firmly embedded in all classrooms with frequent opportunities to develop oracy skills and build their (children’s) confidence in talk, both in formal and informal situations.  We intend to take on the Voice 21 framework for oracy, which breaks down the teaching of good speaking and listening skills into four strands:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Linguistic
  • Social and emotional

 How is it taught?

Children will be given the opportunities to practise a wide variety of talk for different reasons and outcomes.  Being trained in and following ‘talk guidelines’, children will be empowered to use talk effectively to drive their learning.  Through careful and considered planning, teachers will use peer conversations and skilful questioning, as well as a range of oracy-based techniques / tasks to further implement and build upon skills.

 

A range of purposeful opportunities will be evident in classrooms, including but not exclusively:

  • Setting talk guidelines to be referred and adhered to for effective talk (clear eye contact, purposeful and clear listening, taking turns to speak etc.)
  • Presentations – on a range of subjects taking many forms, such as paired or group presentations and using visuals as decided by the child/ group.
  • Discussions – as a trio, pair or in small groups about a range of topics and within all subjects. E.g. predicting story plots or experiment outcomes, discussing characters’ motives or how to solve problems in maths.
  • Debates – with one group for or against a matter of importance and relevance, such as ‘Should primary age children be given homework?’
  • Assemblies – class assemblies with the school and parents sharing recent learning.
  • School Council meetings – elected children attending meetings to discuss implementing change and sharing with classes questions and findings.
  • Group work – frequent working in groups for a range of reasons and in all subjects to develop vital cooperation, compromise, negotiation and speaking and listening skills. 
  • Acting/ role play – acting out stories/ play scripts, performance poetry and imaginative play in Early Years

Impact:

Through the teaching of oracy, children will be able to:

  • Recognise the importance of listening to what others say
  • Speak fluently and clearly in a range of situations and to a range of audiences
  • Effectively explore and discuss a range of ideas through talk
  • Use appropriate gestures to aid the delivery of talk
  • Adapt how they speak depending on the circumstances, e.g. using standard English when required
  • Ask suitable questions to delve deeper into a topic to gain understanding
  • Respond appropriately to what others are saying and develop the skills to politely disagree and challenge another speaker
  • Share their learning in engaging and suitable ways, demonstrating confidence and fluency when speaking to an audience

Phonics and Spelling

In the foundation stage and Year 1, we follow the Letters and Sounds scheme, supported by the Jolly Phonics songs to help children learn the GPC’s. Phonics lessons are adapted based on our ongoing teacher assessments. Class phonics lessons are taught daily throughout Foundation, Year 1 and 2.

In Year 2 – 6 we transition into using the non-nonsense programme. We have designed daily spelling lessons which teach spelling rules and common exception words. 

Reading

Oxford Reading Tree is the scheme that we follow.

Whole class guided reading begins in Year 1 and is planned using texts related to the topic or quality books to engage the children’s love for reading.

Reading for pleasure is developed by:

  • Developing reading fluency
  • Access to the school library
  • Author visits
  • Enrichment opportunities

Vocabulary

Understanding and using new vocabulary is central to all aspects of our curriculum. Every year group uses the 'Frayer Model' - a graphic organiser - to help develop each child’s vocabulary understanding. This technique targets key vocabulary from each subject; children learn the meaning of the word, using pictures, illustrations and sentences definitions. They then apply their knowledge by generating examples and non-examples of the word. This helps children to build a richer vocabulary to use in spoken and written language.

Writing

We use a wide variety of quality books or texts and experiences to motivate and inspire our children’s writing. In Foundation stage, children have opportunities for mark making through Child Initiated Learning. Teacher led sessions help children apply their phonics into their writing. 

In the next academic year, Key Stage one will be using approaches from The Write Stuff to develop writing expertise in our children.

In Key Stage two writing is driven by quality first texts which are connected to other subjects in the curriculum. Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through writing lessons as much as possible. Discrete teaching is sometimes used to develop their understanding and skills.

Handwriting

Handwriting is taught daily from Foundation Stage 2 to Year 2.  Read, Write Inc images and rhymes drive our letter formation. In FS children are taught pre-cursive, then in Year 1 children are shown how to move from pre-cursive to continuous cursive. This then progresses using the ‘continuous cursive’ six joins.  Our aim is that all Year 2 children have developed a continuous cursive handwriting style by the end of the year.

 

Throughout Lower Key Stage 2, handwriting is taught every week. Children build stamina for writing, whilst practising letter joins. Confident Year 4 children, then have the opportunity to start writing in pen.
 

We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a joined handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school.