English curriculum intent statement
Our English curriculum has been designed to equip children with the vital knowledge, skills and understanding that they will need as they move on to secondary school and, ultimately, for the rest of their adult life. Keeping in mind our Christian values of courage and love, we want our children to be ready for the workplace – able to communicate effectively (with an extensive vocabulary) both using spoken and written language; we want them to be life-long readers who read for pleasure throughout their lives, passing on this love of reading to their own children; and we want them to be able to use language creatively to express their thoughts and feelings.
Our School Vision is threaded through our English curriculum: children read texts as a class which encourage them to be kind and inclusive. Through their study of texts the children are encouraged to be true, developing an understanding of how to converse and share their honest opinions in a constructive way. The children learn how they can use their reading, writing and spoken language skills to grow their contribution to our school community and beyond.
As a Power of Reading school we take a text-based approach to the English lesson. This sees us reading a high-quality text as a class (selected with care to ensure it meets the needs of the particular class, age and ability of the children) and using this as a basis for most of our writing. This is an approach which hugely motivates our children and helps to create a real reading culture across the whole school. In addition to this, we know that our children are motivated by topical issues and the world they live in. As such, we seek opportunities to read and write for real-life purposes across the whole curriculum.
We are proud of our strong school community and our parents work alongside us to support their children’s learning in English. Parents across all age groups are encouraged to read with their children at home – both to develop reading skills but also to foster that love of reading through shared experience. So too, when children complete their homework, we ask parents to have the same high expectations as we do in school when it comes to writing neatly, accurately and with a clear purpose in mind. Parents help to maintain these high standards by allowing the children to complete their homework as independently as possible before supporting with the checking and editing process before work is handed in.
Before our children come to school they are already well on the way with developing their spoken language and most arrive at school with good spoken language skills. As such, we are able to apply these to our learning in different subjects as a tool by which we can explore and communicate ideas clearly and creatively. As the children move up the school they are able to apply their spoken language skills to fictional and non-fictional, informative contexts, taking part in performances, presenting to their peers and more. These opportunities also help us to build the Kingdom of Heaven – a central belief without our Biblical vision. Where possible, we engage with our local community, allowing the children to see the power of good spoken language in communicating with others. We recognise the importance of having role models who can demonstrate how to use correct Standard English. As such, we have high expectations of all of our staff that they will model this at all times. All of this allows our children to become confident when conversing as well as recognising the importance of preparation and planning when presenting to an audience.
Being fluent readers unlocks so many doors for our children. Once able to read with confidence, our children can independently find out about the topics they are learning and the world around them. Throughout their time at Chevening, all children are given daily opportunities to read in a variety of different contexts and formats (including independent reading, group reading and whole-class shared reading both in English-focused lessons and in other subjects).
From Year R to Year 2, great focus is given to developing early reading skills. This is done through a combination of daily phonics lessons and guided and shared reading. Phonics lessons follows the Essential Letters and Sounds programme and allow the children to learn the sounds that, when combined, form many of our words. In addition, children will also learn exception words (hard to read, hard to spell words) which do not follow the phonological rules. Guided and shared reading provides opportunities to teach comprehension skills through carefully planned questioning.
As the children move into Key Stage Two, they apply their strong phonological knowledge to read new, more challenging vocabulary. Children are encouraged to think critically about texts that they read, learning, for example, about viewpoint and bias and the impact these can have on a text. In an ever-changing world, this will be important for our children and the way in which they digest information and news about the world they are living in.
Through reading a wide range of texts we want our children to develop an expansive vocabulary. New words are discussed and etymology and morphology explored. Opportunities for application of this vocabulary are encouraged and words are revisited to ensure that they have been learnt and can be used independently.
Being able to record your ideas in writing is something that we all do on a daily basis. Whilst the format of this may be changing from paper to print, the basic skills for writing accurately and coherently remain the same.
Grammar is taught across the school. In Key Stage 1, the children learn the foundations of accurate grammar use and work to be secure in their understanding of these ready for Key Stage 2. As children move through Year 2 and into Key Stage 2, spelling is taught, building on their learning of phonics. We use No Nonsense Spelling and Grammar Hammer to ensure that the children’s understanding of spelling rules and grammar develop progressively, in line with their year group objectives. This ensures that the children have the knowledge of the English language which they require in order to write correctly. Through their exploration of spelling, children apply their growing vocabulary to consider new words which may be related to those they are already familiar with.
Children are given opportunities to write frequently, in all areas of the curriculum. We want our children to understand the power of effective writing in communicating their ideas. Our children are authors, and as such they learn about all aspects of the writing process, learning to plan their ideas, write and then edit and re-draft. Not only are these useful skills as a writer, but they are transferrable skills for them to use in many different ways.
Through their reading and learning across all subjects, children at our school acquire an extensive vocabulary which, when they make use of this in their writing, allows them to communicate clearly and with confidence. By learning about a range of text types – building on their knowledge of these as they move through the school, children will become more knowledgeable in how to write for a range of purposes. As children become more skilful at manipulating the written word, they will be able to consider how they can embed our values of honesty and respect into the way they write for different audiences.