A child’s ability to communicate is vital to all aspects of their learning, so English learning cuts across all areas of the curriculum. We also plan for literacy-specific learning every day in school, in line with the expectations of the National Curriculum.
Our aim is for all Coopers Lane children to be confident and enthusiastic speakers, readers and writers, so we provide a broad range of daily activities for children to develop and apply their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. We want all children to be excellent communicators, to listen actively and to speak with confidence. Every child will have the opportunity to perform to an audience at least twice a year, as part of our fantastic Christmas performances and celebratory and informative class assemblies, in addition to in-class drama activities. Our children are also helped to develop a love of reading and to become skillful and imaginative writers.
Instilling a love of reading is a really important aspect of our reading curriculum, so children often get opportunities throughout the week to read for pleasure. A home reading routine is established in Reception and continued all the way through to Year 6. We encourage children to choose books to take home and share with their families each week; children are also asked to complete regular reading activities to develop their understanding of what they have read. We depend on parents to support children in their daily home reading programme.
In school, each class has a daily, half hour reading lesson. This is usually held first thing, as the children come in to school, and can include reading to an adult as part of a group or as an individual, or working independently on well planned and resourced reading activities. Children are taught a wide range of strategies to decode and make sense of texts, including phonics. These strategies are shared with parents during parent conferences held each term, and our staff are always willing to offer further advice and guidance.
Assessment: Coopers Lane assesses children against age related expectations in reading. These expectations have been organised into bands which reflect the year group, for example band 1 is the end of year expectation for children in year 1.
The use of engaging, inspiring and high quality texts is central to our writing curriculum. We call these books Sparkle Texts and each year group has an ever-expanding selection of these texts; they include classics, such as The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and more recent publications, such as Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and Flotsam by David Wiesner. These books act as stimuli for children to develop and explore their writing skills. Children write for purpose wherever possible, on a theme linked to the current Sparkle Text, or on their termly topic.
The teaching of writing at Coopers Lane follows 5 phases:
Phase 1) Immersion and ‘Have a go’ writing opportunities: This phase is about immersion in the text type and the chosen Sparkle Text. This is a crucial phase in the teaching of writing. The idea is to let the children see what a good one looks like. They need to pull this apart (not just language features but also thinking about text level objectives too). The learning wall will be used to display key learning from this stage; the class create Text Type Toolkits and General Writing Toolkits which are displayed as a reference for when they start writing. This phase may involve drama opportunities and short ‘Have a go’ writing opportunities e.g. note taking, diary entries, character profiles and so on.
Phase 2) Imitation – building towards a writing outcome: Phase 2 will offer more ‘Have a go’ writing, but will also be preparing the children for their final written outcome. There may be a mixture of short writing outcomes and extended writing outcomes, linked heavily to a pre-prepared shared reading text (a perfect example of the text type being studied written by the teacher) which is then modelled during shared and guided writing sessions.
Phase 3) Innovation – the final written outcome: Throughout this phase, the writing journey is scaffolded by the teacher during shared writing. The children end up creating their own version of the shared reading text with changes made, but features of the text type and even some shared ideas may have been “magpie” (stolen from the teacher or each other!) and included to create the final piece.
Phase 4) Hot write: The children now write their own, independent version of the genre they have been studying.
Assessment: Coopers Lane assesses children against age related expectations in writing. These expectations have been organised into bands which reflect the year group, for example band 1 is the end of year expectation for children in year 1.
SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
Grammar, punctuation and spelling play a significant part in the new National Curriculum. At Coopers Lane, we teach specific grammar, punctuation and spelling skills during regular sessions. These are mini lessons which are carefully differentiated to meet the needs of every child and focus on key skills and objectives lifted from the National Curriculum. Our staff follow our Programmes of Study for this (see below). SPAG is not just taught as a discrete subject, however, but is also integrated into our English and Topic planning, ensuring the children are transferring skills across lessons.
At Coopers Lane, children are encouraged to use a cursive script from Foundation Stage. Please see our Handwriting Policy for more details.