Learning & Curriculum
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Children and teachers at Masefield Primary School love to read.
We are a community of readers.
We can read fluently.
We embrace a plethora of fiction and non-fiction texts.
We can reflect upon our reading preferences.
We can critically analyse and evaluate what we read.
At Masefield, we strive to deepen our understanding of the written word by reading regularly; through our coherent and measured development of reading comprehension skills and by incorporating texts and opportunities to read widely across our whole curriculum. Children and teachers immerse themselves in captivating stories, engaging non-fiction texts and powerful poetry.
We hope to enrich our collective and shared experiences and fuel our imaginations!
The Teaching and Learning of Reading at Masefield Community Primary School
At Masefield Primary School, we are passionate about our teaching and learning of reading.
We have endeavoured to foster a culture where reading for pleasure is actively encouraged and supported by our school.
We believe that the capacity to read and understand what is being read is the most fundamental skill that all children should possess: being a ‘good’ reader is at the heart of life-long learning.
Being a ‘good’ reader unlocks all the doors to learning and therefore, opportunity. Being a ‘good’ reader is also essential for participation in civic society and furthermore, promotes positive wellbeing and mental health.
We have invested heavily in developing our teaching and learning of reading, both monetarily and in terms of staff professional development. In Early Years and Key Stage 1 (KS1), we have become a ‘Read, Write, Inc’ School. As a consequence, the percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard by the end of KS1 has increased to 73%, with 97% respectively passing the Year 1 Phonics Screen.
In comparison to local and national averages, both measures are significantly above.
In conjunction with our revised teaching and learning of phonics, we have implemented significant adaptations to our teaching and learning of reading comprehension skills across Key Stage 2 (KS2). Our approach to the teaching and learning of reading comprehension skills across KS2 is founded upon research conducted by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), which suggests that the direct instruction of reading comprehension skills facilitates an additional six months’ progress for all children. Our diurnal and weekly schemas of the teaching and learning of reading comprehension skills are embedded in the pedagogy of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.
We engage our children in the teaching and learning of a variety of reading comprehension skills including: retrieval; vocabulary and the meaning of unfamiliar words; inference, including prediction; summarising, authorial intent and the comparing and contrasting of texts.
These reading comprehension skills are underpinned by effective questioning and the considered annotation of the text using a common framework.
Our children’s acquisition of reading comprehension skills is both active and inclusive.
We model and scaffold for the children explicit strategies as to how to retrieve key information from a text; how to decipher the meaning of vocabulary and unfamiliar words and how to make inferences, employing the ‘APE’ model and predictions that are plausible and reasonable.
Through our ‘Orientation’, our KS2 children are becoming increasingly proficient in discovering the ‘gist’ of a text; an author’s intent through their deliberate and purposeful choice of vocabulary and generating summaries of what they have read.
At the heart of our school is the library, which houses a variety of picture books, fiction and non-fiction texts and most significantly, our newfound ‘diversity’ and ‘Thrive’ collections.
These collections embrace authors and main characters from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds; encompass complex issues, such as migration and refugees, or explore emotions and feelings, developing empathy and understanding.
Our whole school library is supplemented by our class libraries. Furthermore, as a whole school, we regularly visit our local library in Little Lever, which has recently undergone a multi-million-pound relocation to a contemporary facility. At Masefield, we believe that it is vital to develop links with our local community through discovering and exploring our local community. Throughout the year, classes visit Little Lever Library. This develops our children’s interests, promotes a love of books and ‘book chat’ through positive recommendations and to share our ‘love of reading’ across school.
Celebrating Reading for Pleasure
We celebrate reading for pleasure across school, annually, through a designated ‘Reading Week’ and weekly, through our whole class and individual ‘Readers of the Week,’ who get to choose a book, which they can keep forever!
Recently, as a whole school we have shared read, ‘Lizzie and the Birds,’ by Dawn and Mick Robertson, where the author visited our school, in addition to a falconer, who introduced the children to a range of birds of prey! Alternatively, Andy Tooze, a local poet, visited our school and worked with the children, authoring their own poems. We celebrate World Book Day and organise regular book fairs. With numerous dissimilar book characters filling our school corridors, our children are encouraged to ask their peers, who they are dressed up as and in turn, want to investigate more. They are able to discover a book they may otherwise have never picked up, by simply sharing and recommending their favourite books.
Furthermore, Year 6 engaged with a Manga Immersion Day from the School Library Association, where they learned about the history and cultural significance of Manga in Japan and the desperate plight of the Japanese people following the tsunami, in 2011, through Julian Sedgewick’s Tsunami Girl. Finally, our Year 6 children, who are ‘Reading Buddies,’ support children in Year 2, to develop a love of reading. We believe our younger pupils grow as readers when they hear a more experienced reader model fluent reading. Our KS2 Reading Buddies can demonstrate how fluent readers read with appropriate phrasing and intonation. Emergent readers benefit from hearing their Reading Buddy read with accuracy and automaticity, rather than needing to constantly sound out challenging words. Our Reading Buddies are role models and improve the confidence of our younger readers, whilst they are learning to read.
The Teaching and Learning of Writing at Masefield Community Primary School
At Masefield Primary School, it is our ambition for all children to be able to speak, read and write fluently.
Our reading-into-writing process is simultaneously sequential and thorough in its development of the teaching and learning of writing across school. Our children’s writing evolves as a consequence of their engagement with rich stimuli, which focus their audience and purpose; their exposure to extensive exemplar and modelled texts; their analysis and evaluation of key structural and language features; the contextually appropriate and precise teaching and learning of grammar, punctuation and spelling; considered planning, drafting, editing and lastly, innovative publication of their writing, which is celebrated in each and every classroom!
Our writing schemas incorporate John Murray’s ‘Read, Write, Perform’; high quality texts and year group specific units of work, which may be organised around a physical stimulus, image, video, animation or interconnected with the whole class read or subject from the foundation curriculum.
This approach ensures that the children at Masefield acquire a broad spectrum of writing capacities across a range of fiction and non-fiction texts; can write in the first and third person; can appreciate the subtle differences between writing in formal and informal tones and finally, can write as a historian, a geographer or a scientist.
To support this teaching and learning of writing, handwriting is delivered through a three-challenge structure centring on letter formation, letter joins and the dictation of complete sentences. In addition, our interactive ‘working walls’ act as scaffolds for our pupils within lessons to extend their vocabulary, sentence complexity and to support their substantive knowledge of the genre currently ‘under the microscope’.
The teaching and learning of different fiction and non-fiction genres is repeated across school to develop deep foundations that allow our children to flourish in their journeys into becoming great writers, who can express themselves both creatively and knowledgeably through the whole curriculum, where writing demands are both complex and varied.
Our English overviews can be viewed here:
At Masefield Primary School, the teaching and learning of systematic synthetic phonics is accessible to all. Systematic synthetic phonics is key substantive knowledge that supports the development of early reading. We follow the ‘Read, Write, Inc’ scheme to help us to deliver our high quality teaching and learning of systematic synthetic phonics.
In combination with wide-ranging exposure to a diversity of texts and the promotion of reading for pleasure, we provide all our pupils with the foundations they require to have a successful start to their lives as ‘good’ readers.
With using ‘Read, Write, Inc’, we hope to provide all our pupils with a systematic, synthetic phonics programme that allows all our children to recognise, say and write all phonemes within each phase; use their phonics knowledge to segment and blend phonetically-decodable words and apply this to reading and writing across the entire curriculum.
‘Read, Write Inc’ satisfies the Department for Education’s sixteen essential, core criteria.
It aims to build children’s oracy skills, in addition to, preparing pupils to read by developing their phonic knowledge. It establishes a detailed and systematic programme for the teaching and learning of phonic knowledge for children starting in Nursery, with the aim of becoming fluent readers by age seven.
At Masefield, our learning environment is paramount to supporting the teaching and learning of our children. Over the course of the last few years, through our School Development Plan and Action Plan for English, we have endeavoured to improve the provision and quality of our teaching and learning of speaking and listening skills, together with promoting good oracy development. In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), our new creative role play areas allow for children to express themselves more fully, thus supporting their development of high quality speaking and listening skills. In the EYFS and KS1, our stimulating systematic synthetic phonics programme extends our children’s spoken vocabulary. Across school, we have implemented changes to our pedagogy that have actively encouraged the promotion of good oracy development. Across all lessons, ‘cold-calling’ is used extensively to foster whole class participation. Children are required to articulate spoken answers in a dynamic dialogue with their peers and the teaching staff.
During half termly Knowledge Days, children are required to refer to and review previous learning and to present topics verbally through a variety of styles including: poster presentations; the use of Keynote; small-group reflections or vocabulary games. During KS2 Enrichment, a teaching assistant delivers training to all classes from Years 3 – 6, on the use of Keynote and its functions, including ‘voice-overs’ and narration. Furthermore, public-speaking is celebrated through Class Assemblies and Performance Poetry. Poetry is a rich source of language, vocabulary and syntax. Biannually, each class is required to prepare a poem and perform it chorally. Across school, children have studied the poetry of Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard’s Windrush Child, illustrated by Sophie Bass, On the Move, by Michael Rosen and The Lost Spells, by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. Last year, Year 6 even performed Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’! Through celebrating rhymes, poems and songs and through reciting poetry, we can build children’s strong emotional connection to language. Performance Poetry in language-rich classrooms encapsulates shared memories for all children and this is something we pride ourselves on. Performance and celebrations of our children is something we excel in and as a school, we provide opportunities constantly for our pupils to thrive in this area.
Speech, language and communication is the first and most important aspect of development and is a significant focus not only within the Early Years but throughout school. Put simply, language is our tool for thinking and learning. It is through communication that we build relationships and resolve conflicts. By the time children leave Masefield Primary School in Year 6, their knowledge of language from Early Years will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
Long term studies have found that early speech, language and communication difficulties predict a wide range of negative outcomes. That is why our teaching of vocabulary and communication is explicit and all our staff are highly trained in developing vocabulary and communication. At Masefield we use a range of tools to support our teaching and also to provide targeted interventions for pupils. These include, Word Aware, ELKLAN, Nursery and Reception Narrative and WellComm. We also employ a school based speech therapist for 1/2 day per week to provide support and advice to staff as well as work with identified pupils for interventions.
Top tips for developing communication can be found here
At Masefield Community Primary School, we believe that proficiency in reading, writing and oracy is vital for our pupils’ success, including our SEND and disadvantaged children. Through these, our children not only develop the communication skills essential for their educational journey, but also, for life’s journey.
Our ambition for our English Curriculum is that it provides for all our children the substantive and disciplinary knowledge to become independent learners, who can flourish in education and subsequently, in employment.
At Masefield Primary School, we promote high quality texts for all our children. Across school we support our children through the delivery of same-day phonics interventions; the use of choral and echo reading; the explicit teaching and learning of reading comprehension skills that are transferable across the core and foundation curricula; targeted reading fluency interventions; appropriate scaffolds during English writing lessons, including ‘vocabulary mats’ and sentence starters; bespoke Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS) interventions, using purposeful technology, for example, Learning by Questions (LBQ); and supplementary writing lessons in Year 6 for our more able writers.
Fostering parental engagement and supporting our families is at the heart of everything we do at Masefield Primary School. We desire to ensure our families feel supported with their child’s learning at school and at home. We offer a variety of workshops and open mornings across school to build their confidence. This enables parents and carers to see what resources and models we use within school and strategies they can adopt when teaching their children at home. Our English workshops and open mornings include: enabling parents to support their child’s phonetical development; EYFS and KS1 reading workshop, KS2 reading workshop and parental engagement in Knowledge Days and book fairs. In addition, we offer bespoke support for the parents and carers of those in year groups experiencing national testing, including: Reception Baseline testing, Year 1 Phonics Screen; Year 2 SATS; Year 4 Multiplication Check and lastly, End of KS2 SATS. These informative workshops support our parents and carers understanding of these tests and the support our school offers our children in preparing them academically and emotionally for these examinations.
We endeavour to provide every opportunity for our parents and carers to support their child’s learning at home.
At the core of our teaching and learning across the foundation curricula, is the explicit teaching and learning and progressive and interconnected development of key vocabulary, through our coherently-designed and purposeful Knowledge Organisers. Our Knowledge Organisers ensure that the children progress their scientific, subject-specific and technical vocabulary, while simultaneously, being able to make connections between subjects and across year groups through their analysis and evaluation of key themes.
At Masefield Primary School, our English Curriculum not only delivers the key knowledge, skills and understanding for our children to become successful readers and writers, but also, makes a significant contribution to the breaking of hidden cultural and learning barriers, while simultaneously promoting life-long learning and participating in civic society now and in the future as our children journey through secondary school and into their adult lives.
Handwriting is taught weekly using Oxford University Press’s Nelson scheme from Reception to Year 6, beginning with mark making and patterns in Early Years all the way up to legible, joined handwriting in Year 6. When a child is deemed to have legible, joined writing they are awarded a pen license and certificate!
Spelling is taught from Year 2 – 6 every week, following the Spelling Shed Overviews and teaching strategies from No-Nonsense Spelling, which build on the National Curriculum’s statutory word lists. Spellings are sent home as part of homework and children are tested each week.
In Years 5 and 6, Grammar becomes an explicit focus and is taught weekly using Learning by Questions. In the years prior to 5, grammar is interwoven in English lessons and tested fortnightly using Grammar Hammer.
This process continues into Key Stage 2, by which time children have mastered simple sentence structure enabling them to develop their writing style.