Templars Primary recognises the infinite possibilities that mastering literacy (reading, writing and language) provides. At its heart, literacy is communication. In learning to read and write, children learn to communicate their own thoughts, respond, interrogate and interpret those of others and build a library of experiences and language with which they can explore and understand the world around them. Childhood literacy is the key to unlocking their potential as it is needed to access learning in every other subject. By having command of the English language children can develop cultural capital. Literacy skills open doors for children that they never knew existed, particularly through reading. At Templars we know that fantastic readers make brilliant writers because the knowledge that is digested from reading can be utilised in writing. For this reason, texts form the centre of out English curriculum and reading has a high profile and is prioritised by staff who teach children to do the same. Fundamentally, our English curriculum aims to produce children that are well read and can communicate their ideas and with others successfully, which encompasses both their speaking and listening skills, through the lens of high quality, captivating literature.
Our intention is to create an army of avid, able readers who can explore anything that takes their interest. In English lessons at Templars, we want children to explore their immediate surroundings through local stories and authors and the theme of belonging that underpins and knits together the children’s learning across all subjects at our school. We also want to take children beyond their local area to broaden their horizons. By promoting a love for reading and literature, our staff expose our pupils to whole new worlds, catapulting them into diverse stories and lives unlike their own to understand and become individuals that are accepting of difference. We perceive reading as a way of teaching and allowing children to question, to seek new interests and to utilise their imagination through text and language. As texts are central to our curriculum, all lessons stem from a poem, picture book, narrative or non-fiction text out of which the learning and writing outcomes emerge which capitalises on the interplay between the two skills of reading and writing. From nursery and reception with classic tales and nursery rhymes, we want to nurture children to value and respect literature and take pride in their books. By prioritising literature, we also aim to keep language and vocabulary as a high priority in our teaching of English to enable the students to mature into eloquent writers. When they leave Templars, we want every child to be able to live a fulfilled life that involves writing to friends, reading and understanding news and current affairs and applying for jobs. In this ever technical world computer literacy and typing skills also have a place in our curriculum so that our children are well equipped to meet the demands of modern society when they leave us. This is coupled with our relentless focus on handwriting and grammar, through which it is our hope that whether writing emails of filling in application forms, our children will have the tools to create the very best first impression.
Our aims with our curriculum are ambitious and aspirational and we encourage our children to share these and believe in themselves. Therefore, our strategies offer children every chance to become masters of the English language in their speaking, listening, reading and writing. Our robust phonics programme in which say and write sounds though the Read, Write Inc. scheme gives children an excellent foundation in literacy from their very first days in nursery and reception. This scheme continues into Key Stage 1, where children continue phonics lessons throughout year 1 leading to the Phonics screening check which assesses children’s competency to segment and blend the sounds in a range of known and made up words. Some children are supported further with phonics in Year 2 and may retake the assessment if needed. In Key Stage 2, the Read Write Inc. ‘Fresh Start’ programme is used to support students from Year 3 in the form of intervention groups if they need longer to master phonics.
Our curriculum is thematic: each term the children study a new and exciting topic in which several key books underpin and create the lessons and learning. This reflects our prioritisation of reading. Children’s writing emerges from these books with a clear focus on vocabulary. This is complemented by our daily “word of the day” sessions from the Vocabulary Ninja scheme. Children meet and interrogate a new word each to add into their ever expanding bank of vocabulary. In their daily reading lessons, children learn comprehension skills and the tools to understand and question what they read. You can see exactly which texts the children study when, and what the linked writing outcomes are for children in Years 1-6 in the documents below. We also want children to see texts as sources of pleasure not just for learning. For this reason, we have ring-fenced time for reading a class novel and independent choice books daily. We also encourage children to develop critical eyes and the language for this by sharing book reviews on a Wednesday. We teach children to love reading and be excited by books through events that staff and children throw themselves into. We celebrate world book day, have an annual bedtime stories event and take part in National Nursery Rhyme day and Storytelling Week. Our brand new resource centre is a place where children can capitalise on books to support their learning in other subjects too, and our well-stocked collection of take home fiction and non-fiction books encourages children to be responsible readers at home. We expect children to choose to read at home because they have grown up loving it at school!
Our teachers are the best resource our children have. Our curriculum capitalises on this by putting modelling and demonstration at the heart of our lessons. In writing, this modelling is broken down into a sentence by sentence approach lead by the work of Jane Considine and her “The Write Stuff” methodology for teaching writing. Allows children the time to really hone their writing craft and create a bank of sentence structures they can use independently. Handwriting, grammar and spelling are central to our writing lessons and there is dedicated time for practice of these through our Learning To Learn weeks. Spelling is taught throughout the week and supported by home learning. We teach children to write cursively to meet the requirements of the national curriculum. We know the importance of that first impression- of which good spelling, accurate grammar and legible writing is crucial.
The English curriculum at Templars is designed to produce generations of avid and able readers and writers. However, we also recognise the importance of supporting our families to enable them to support the children too. We know that some of the strategies and learning may seem confusing especially to those of younger parents in which phonics are crucial but may seem quite alien to parents. Therefore, part of our curriculum is a robust programme of support for parents to understand our curriculum, the demands of the National Curriculum and to improve their own knowledge and skill. Throughout the year, children and their families will be invited to phonics workshops, spelling and handwriting events as well as chances to read in school with their children and learn what this looks like from our knowledgeable staff.
Vicky Jolley - English Lead