English at Sir Henry Fermor is exciting and magical!
At the heart of the English journey is reading; learning to read and also learning to love books and the magic within them. The journey begins from that first step in reception where the child learns to handle and navigate a text, to the next steps of learning the sounds that build words, and in no time at all, hey presto, the children are reading for themselves and delving into the wonderful world of words! It is an exciting process to watch as a parent or teacher, but even more exciting (life changing in fact) for the child who has broken the all important code that will shape their school career and indeed all that they do in later life.
In terms 1, 3 and 5 a reading age assessment is done to ensure that children are on track with their reading milestones. For those who find reading a little tricky, we have reading schemes in place and well qualified staff who can guide the learners through the more structured reading programmes such as Rapid, Oxford Reading Tree and Project X.
At the heart of each unit of work are rich and varied texts which challenge the children and extend their vocabulary as well as provide exposure to well structured sentences and plots that they can 'magpie' and use in their own writing.
At the end of each school day the children are read to for ten minutes from the class reader which is specifically chosen to capture the children's imaginations and provide cross curricular links to other subjects that they are studying in the curriculum. This is a novel that spans a term or two from beginning to end and provides a platform for the teacher to mesmerise the children and model intonation, character voices and eye contact to involve the reader.
The art of writing well for the specified purpose, spelling correctly and understanding the rudiments of how sentences are formed, are taught and explored daily through the chosen text for each unit of work. Gone are the days of laborious grammar lessons! All the skills that the child needs are covered in exciting English lessons where the teacher provides learning opportunities and encourages the children to edit and improve their work and take pride in their final product.
Writing is taught through studying rich texts and identifying the 'wow factors' in these pieces, and then attempting to emulate these techniques in the children's own pieces. inspiring teachers and teaching assistants model the writing process and encourage the children to be creative and imaginative.
Some of the teaching of writing is based on Pie Corbett's Talk4Writing approach. All members of classroom staff have received Talk4Writing training in order to enthuse children and create articulate and passionate writers.
The Talk4Writing process follows three main stages.
The first stage of the three is the Imitation Stage. It is during this stage that the children will learn a text orally. The internalisation of a text helps children to learn the structures of different text genres and themes as well as imprinting exciting vocabulary and phrases into their long term memory. During this stage children will also look closely at the structure of the writing and focus on the grammar of the text before creating a writer’s toolkit. This toolkit will aid children through the next two phases of learning and will scaffold the learning; ensuring progress is achievable by all.
Once the text is embedded and children have a clear understanding, we progress onto the Innovation Stage. This is when children will begin to think about writing their own stories using what they have learnt so far. During the innovation stage, teachers will model writing a story closely linked to the story that is learnt. Children will participate with learning through a process called shared writing in which the teacher scaffolds children’s ideas and models how to up level and form exciting and engaging writing. After the shared writing has been completed, children plan their own adaptations of the shared writing before forming their own story linked closely to the model text. This is an opportunity for children to use the language and grammatical features they have learned as well as further internalising different text structures.
The final stage of the Talk4Writing process is allowing the children to be completely creative; this is called the Invention Stage/Independent Application Stage. This is the opportunity for children to show everything they have learnt through the previous two stages and apply it to a piece of writing completely of their own making. The children will still follow a basic progression of planning the text before writing their own text and then editing and redrafting their writing. This give teachers the chance to assess learning and progress and plan for next steps.
English is the perfect platform for role play, hot seating, exploring and writing playscripts, and then acting the scripts out.
Each class gets the opportunity to perform on stage at least once a year in the year group assembly held at All Saints Church where the whole school and parents come and watch. Some year groups get further opportunities: EYFS and KS1 perform in the Nativity, Year 5 are involved in an Easter production, and Year 6 prepare and perform an end of year production.
SPEAKING and LISTENING
At Fermor, not only do we nurture eloquent and confident speakers, we also encourage and expect children to be sympathetic listeners. There are many occasions during the week where students are given the forum to discuss and formulate opinions and ask all important questions.