At Montrose School, the overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. We hope this will provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed at the next stage of their education as well as becoming aspirational learners who thrive in later life.
Throughout their learning journey in English, pupils will engage in a variety of different fiction, poetry and non-fiction text types, become familiar with a range of classic and contemporary authors and develop a strong grammatical understanding of the English language. As we follow a novel-based approach, pupils will be submerged into a world of storytelling, learning to internalise text and language patterns from an early age as well as developing their understanding of British and world cultures, identity and literary traditions. Our aim is to develop learners who use their knowledge, skills and understanding in spoken language, reading and writing across a range of different contexts. They will become confident and effective communicators who can express their ideas and emotions to others and regularly apply these skills across the curriculum.
At Montrose, learning objectives in every lesson are aligned to the National Curriculum. The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
In the Foundation Stage, children are taught to develop an initial phonological awareness and are then to read using the ALS phonics programme. This follows a rigorous and sequential progression of teaching children increasingly complex grapheme-phoneme correspondences through to Year 2 until their phonetic knowledge is secure. In KS1, children’s comprehension skills and ability to respond to texts are developed through shared and small-group guided reading sessions alongside daily phonics. Children are assessed regularly as they progress through each phonics phase and school-based learning is supplemented by phonetically-decodable books to read at home from recognised schemes. Once children are secure at phase 5, they are benchmarked using the PM system and read colour banded books at an age- and ability-appropriate level. Children who are not on track to pass the phonics screening check at the end of year 1 will continue to access a programme of phonics intervention. Children who still fail to pass the check in year 2 will continue to have a personalised programme of intervention support as they enter KS2.
In KS2, children are taught through weekly shared reading lessons using a rich and challenging class text and daily whole-class guided sessions using quality, age-appropriate texts from the Bug Club Comprehension scheme. All children are accurately assessed using the PM Benchmarking system at least three times a year to ensure they read books with an appropriate level of challenge and to monitor their progress, fluency and understanding when reading. Books are correspondingly banded to suit ability right through to the end of KS2, offering a wide range of quality reading materials for children to choose from.
Reading for Pleasure
We encourage children to keep a log of their reading using the Go Read app and to actively promote what they read to other children through book reviews and presentations. Termly competitions and other initiatives are linked to the amount of independent/home reading that has been logged on the app. Each month, every class nominates a ‘reading champion’ who has been a good ambassador for reading; they are rewarded by choosing a new book to add to the class book shelf. Classrooms also contain a wide variety of free-reading materials, consisting of different magazines, newspapers, poetry, non-fiction and non-banded fiction books. Children have opportunities to explore and share these during designated ‘free reading’ sessions. Our physical reading resources are also supplemented by the Bug Club online reading library, which some children prefer to access using digital devices.
Every year, we come together as a school to celebrate reading during Roald Dahl day, World Book day and National Poetry day. On these days, children take part in a wide range of creative activities as part of mixed-ability classes, giving them an opportunity to explore exciting new books or established classics with different teachers and pupils. Every term, we come together to celebrate poetry through a poetry slam, where each class learns and performs a poem linked to a set theme to the rest of the school.
In year 2, children take part in the Leicester "Our Best Picture Book" project, through which they get to read and vote on six new picture books by contemporary authors. In year 6, children join with several other schools across Leicester to take part in the “Our Best Book” project. An expert from the library service visits the school in October to introduce a long list of 20 exciting new books from some of the most popular contemporary children’s authors. Given until January to read, review and share opinions on these books, children then vote for a short list of 5 books, which they are then given multiple copies of to get their teeth into. Later in the spring term, children vote for the top 3 ‘best books’ and children who have participated with particular enthusiasm are invited to attend a special awards ceremony at Leicester Tigers and see which book tops the vote to become this year’s Best Book. Author visits are arranged at different times through the year (either in person or virtually) to excite and engage children in a range of new literary styles and broaden their knowledge of contemporary authors.
In the Early Years, children are taught to read and write using the ALS phonics programme. This is complemented by opportunities to read, write, speak and listen every day, through planned and child-initiated activities linked to stories, poems and curriculum themes. In Year 1, children continue progressing through the ALS phonics scheme. This is taught in whole class groups, supplemented with shared/guided reading and shared/guided writing activities linked to core texts or creative curriculum themes. In Years 2 to 6, children take part in a daily English lesson, working on units of English linked to core texts, narrative genres, poetry and wider curriculum themes. Lessons focus on one aspect of the teaching sequence for writing (reading, grammar, planning, drafting, editing to improve), leading to purposeful writing outcomes. Children have many opportunities to write at length, providing an opportunity to apply skills they have developed in focused English sessions. As part of our novel-based approach, pupils are submerged into a world of storytelling, learning to internalise text and language patterns from an early age as well as developing their understanding of British culture, identity and literary traditions.
Writing across the Curriculum
In addition to the writing opportunities as part of the English teaching sequence, there are planned activities across the wider curriculum to encourage children to apply their skills within a context where there is distance from the point of learning. This provides stimulating and purposeful opportunities to write, whilst revisiting and revising previous skills and learning. Across our whole curriculum at Montrose, we aim to support our children in becoming confident and proficient writers and to take pride in their work.
At Montrose, we write for a purpose. To see which text types are covered in each year group, see our writing coverage chart.
Spelling and Handwriting
From Year 2, classes continue to learn spellings based on a phonemic approach, building on their knowledge of phonics alongside exploring some spelling patterns and rules as detailed in the National Curriculum and covering the statutory words. Spelling is taught for 15 minutes a day. On Monday, children are introduced to the sound of the week, identifying it in a list of words and exploring patterns. Through direct instruction, they will learn how to analyse words and identify their ‘tricky’ parts. Children are encouraged to investigate and discuss, trying out different graphemes for the focus sound and testing each other. At the end of the week, children are tested on their spellings by dictation sentences, recording the words they have learnt in context.
Children are also taught to:
- Apply accurate spelling in their writing and identify reasons for mis-spellings.
- Proof-read their spellings
- Recognise and use word origins, families and roots to build their skills
- Use dictionaries and thesauruses.
Occasionally, children require extra support outside of timetabled English lessons. A range of interventions are offered across the school to support children who are at risk of not meeting age-related expectations, amongst more tailored 1:1 support in specific cases. These might include:
- Reading Coaching
- Colourful semantics
- Spelling tutor
- Beat Dyslexia
- Acceleread, Accelewrite
- Taming Tricky Words
- Precision Teach
- Inference Coaching
- Additional bespoke phonics for KS2 pupils
- Academic Coaching
- Language groups
- Language for Thinking
- Support with individual speech and language therapy targets
- Speech sound groups
- Handwriting interventions
Children are regularly assessed in English – both formatively, across a sequence of lessons, phonic sessions or through reading with adults; and summatively, in benchmarking, standardised assessments and end-of-unit pieces of extended writing. Planning is adapted to respond to the emerging trends and needs of specific children identified through these and interventions are carefully planned where necessary to address specific gaps in knowledge.
We believe that all children should have the opportunity to succeed. To meet the needs of all pupils, we place an emphasis on the core skills of reading, writing, spelling, handwriting and vocabulary and allow children opportunities to articulate their ideas clearly and structure them coherently in speech and writing. Learning should be consistently challenging for pupils, including the highest attainers, to ensure children develop cumulative knowledge and skills which prepare them adequately for future learning and employment. Our vast range of literary opportunities encourage all pupils to develop a love of language, literature and fulfil their potential to become confident users of the English language.
English Leads (D Rhodes & N O’Brien)
Please use the links below to find out more:
Wigston Lane, Leicester, Leicestershire