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.
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
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the letters or groups of letters (graphemes) that represent them. At Masefield Primary School, we place a strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give all children a solid foundation for learning. Because not all words in the English language comply to the rules of phonics we also teach ‘sight words’ by repetition and retrieval.
From September 2020 the teaching of phonics is through Read, Write, Inc Phonics.
First and foremost, we want all children at Masefield Primary School to develop a life-long love of reading. As a result, we approach the teaching of reading from all angles, so as to miss no opportunity to spark a child’s interest.
Daily Reading lessons focus on the skills of comprehension, first through unpicking vocabulary, then moving on to unlocking the meaning of whole texts and critical appreciation.Teachers read a huge variety of written material regularly with the children, fiction and non-fiction, stories, reports, diaries and poems. Each year group has access to a ‘Class Book Library’ containing challenging and interesting novels for teachers to read to their classes, exposing children to language and classic stories which they may find too challenging to read independently.
We have a home-school reading system (up to Year 6), which requests that children read a book at the appropriate level for them, for at least ten minutes each day. Our books are phonetically decodable and closely matched to our teaching of phonics through Read, Write Inc. Once children are able to read fluently these texts are supplemented by additional texts such as Oxford Reading Tree. Moving up into Key Stage 2, children follow ‘book bandings’ ensuring they are making progress.
We have a fantastic library, where children go to take out books and read with their teachers and each other. The library is also open before and after school for children to change their books and read with their parents.
Each week we have a reading competition which is celebrated in our Star Assembly. Reading Buddies and Prefects monitor the reading in each class and give an award out the winners.
Alongside this, we have regular author visits, books fairs and World Book Day – one of the highlights of the year!
In all year groups, we teach writing through high-quality texts – ranging from picture books to long narratives, immersive real-life experiences, such as school trips, or a combination of both.
Throughout their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, discursive texts, persuasive arguments, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1 children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between in each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their work, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1 children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.
As pupils writing journey continues, we use a range of resources to stimulate and inspire ideas through ‘Read-Write-Perform’ and writing linked with pupils wider curriculum work which forms a ‘Learning Challenge.’ This allows developing writers at Masefield Primary School to use meaningful contexts to understand how we use the English language. Pupils are then taught how to apply that knowledge creatively to bring their own work to life. When writing using the ‘Learning Challenge’, the starting point is excellent quality literature to link the English learning with a specific history or geography focus. For example, ‘Lila and the secret of rain’ helps us focus on ‘a non-European country and compare it with our town or village’; the book ‘Viking Boy’ brings the Viking period to life. Focus History/ Geography is designed in such a way to ensure that the integrity of English, history and geography remain whilst providing natural links between them. The knowledge, skills and understanding of both English, history and geography are therefore of paramount importance as is the pedagogy that underpins the suggested activities.
Our English overviews can be viewed here:
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.