Our English Curriculum Intent
At Blagdon Primary School, we have a real passion for English and, in particular, books! We are strong advocates of reading and use high quality texts as the basis for much of our writing in school.
English, communication and languages lie at the heart of our capacity to explore, imagine, think and create and make a crucial contribution to children's development as successful learners. Their developing use of language underpins children's achievement across the curriculum and sets the foundations for lifelong learning.
Our book-based curriculum based on the Literacy Tree programme excites and engages children to be critical readers whilst becoming confident and informed writers. The texts chosen are from wide range of high quality authors and genres and cover many curricular or topical themes including diversity and inclusion. The National Curriculum requirements are embedded, making the grammar purposeful and there are always a mixture of shorter, longer and extended writing outcomes where the audience and purpose is clear, engaging and exciting for children! Our children learn to communicate effectively in a range of media. They become increasingly fluent and accurate in expressing their thoughts and emotions, orally and in writing and develop skills in improving and editing their own work. Creating and responding to all kinds of texts, including those which combine words, images and sounds, offers access to the world of knowledge and imagination and generates lasting enthusiasm, enjoyment and the ability to excel.
We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.
We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.
In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.
In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.
For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression:
To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have impact.
We promote a 'phonics first' approach to reading, and we use fully matched phonetically decodable books as they progress through as early readers. We use the Collins Big Cat reading scheme in our guided reading sessions at school in EYFS and KS1. In both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. This extends into Lower KS2 until they are confident readers and are ready to choose from our library.
In KS2, reading comprehension is taught in dedicated lessons, following the VIPERS format and using a range of shorter and longer text extracts from many types of writing. This is complemented by Topic 20 lessons in KS2, where curriculum bases texts are enjoyed as part of their learning as a form of research and investigation for a purpose.
We are very proud of our school library! Only opened in September 2020, our library brings into focus just how important we feel reading is. As well as being home to our KS2 scheme books, our library is filled with a wide range of texts that our children are invited to select and explore with increasing independence as they progress through the school a wide range of titles We aim to excite and engage every child in reading by fostering a lifelong love of books. Our library is inviting and gives our children the opportunity to relax and enjoy a good book in comfort. A love of reading is a well-documented route to academic success — helping all of our children to excel.