At Northwood English is the foundation of our curriculum. It is embedded throughout our curriculum through reading, writing, speaking and listening. Our English curriculum will enable our pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, enable others to communicate with them. Through reading in particular, our pupils will develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading also enables our pupils both to acquire knowledge across all subjects and to build on what they already know.
All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society, and we value Literacy as the key to accessing knowledge and skills in other subjects, and therefore we teach all aspects of English rigorously. We strive to ensure all pupils leave us with a good standard of reading and writing as we appreciate the lifelong opportunities this will afford them.
Speaking and Listening
At Northwood pupils will be taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness of their communication across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. They will have opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class.
Teachers aim to increase pupils’ vocabulary, ranging from describing their immediate world and feelings to developing a broader, deeper and richer vocabulary in order to discuss abstract concepts and a wider range of topics, and enhance their knowledge about language as a whole. Words can be divided into three tiers:
Tier 1 - The simplest tier – these are words that most students will pick up through natural, everyday conversation. They include common nouns like ‘clock’, ‘chair’ or ‘house’, verbs like ‘walk’ and ‘run’, or adjectives like ‘sad’ and ‘happy.’ These words don’t normally require explicit teaching.
Tier 2 - These are ambitious words, such as ‘emerge’, ‘analyse’, ‘peculiar’ and ‘context’, that pupils are likely to come across in a variety of contexts and across all subjects, but aren’t used much in everyday conversation. They are not the most basic or common ways of expressing ideas, but they are familiar to 'mature language' users as 'ordinary' as opposed to 'specialised' language.
For example, the Tier 2 word ‘soar’ can add more sophistication and specificity to a pupil's understanding of the word ‘fly’. They will be able to understand that soaring isn’t just flying, but flying very high in the air.
We aim to develop pupil's knowledge and usage of Tier 2 words so that they are able to use them, not just in conversation, but in their writing and especially in their understanding and comprehension of written texts.
Tier 3 - These words are subject-specific, used within a particular field. This is the language of scientists, mathematicians, historians, and literary critics. For Maths, this includes words like ‘denominator’, while science lessons might require pupils to understand ‘photosynthesis'’. Often, these words are integral to teaching content for certain subjects.
At Northwood we have a particular focus on subject specific vocabulary in order for children to gain and embed knowledge and understanding across all subjects, ready for the next stage in their education. In each Foundation Subject, there are 'Knowledge Mats' containing key vocabulary that we expect all children to learn and be able to use appropriately.
Speaking and listening is not taught discretely in English - it permeates every aspect of school life. It is used throughout the whole school to enable children to explore and rehearse their thoughts before committing them to paper and to have constructive conversations and debates (such as during 'Relationship' lessons). Speaking and listening skills are also developed through role-play and drama in class, and at seasonal end of year performances in front of large audiences. Below is a summary of the statutory expectations for Spoken Language as set out in the National Curriculum for English (2014):
Pupils should be taught to:
listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play/improvisations and debates
gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
select and use appropriate registers for effective communication
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read by correlating the sounds letters (and groups of letters) make, known as 'phonemes', with their written symbols know as 'graphemes'. Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for 5- to 7-year-old children.
At Northwood phonics is taught through daily, discrete phonics sessions, where pupils are streamed into ability groups crossing year groups. At Northwood we teach phonics using the DFE approved 'Twinkl Phonics Programme'. Twinkl's approach is based on the original ‘Letters and Sounds: 'Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics' documentation. The 'Letters and Sounds' document can be accessed using the following link:
Below is a PowerPoint for parents from Twinkl about Synthetic Phonics and how it is taught in school, followed by videos of how to pronounce the phonemes with the corresponding actions:
Since 2012, all schools have had to complete a Phonics Screening Check on pupils at the end of Year One. The purpose of the phonics screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. 'Decoding' is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognise familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before.
At Northwood we feel it is important to note that being able to decode is only part of being a confident, fluent reader. Children need to be taught to quickly recognise 'exception' words that do not fit the usual phonics rules, and be able to infer what unfamiliar words may be by the context of the sentence they are written in i.e. what word would make sense here? They also need to be taught to read with expression and become fluent in their reading, without having to decode every word. At Northwood pupils read daily with adults, and importantly, listen to adults reading to them so that reading with expression and fluency is practised and modelled to them. Below you will find a link to more information about the phonics check:
At Northwood our passion for reading is evident. Every classroom has an inviting book corner which is regularly resourced with new books from modern and classic authors. We use high quality texts using the ‘Power of Reading’ list as a guide, which stimulate a love of reading and helps to inspire children’s writing. Whole class comprehension lessons based on short and longer texts enable pupils to explore texts in depth, demonstrating their 'understanding' of a text and learning crucial 'inference' skills. Adults also read texts aloud every day to pupils so that Northwood children are exposed to new vocabulary and themes and develop a love of listening to stories for pleasure. These texts will be a combination of classic & modern authors/titles, so that children have the opportunity to be exposed to and compare texts and language from different eras and celebrate the world's most successful and well known texts. We aim for this to inspire them to develop a joy for reading at school and at home, and take this pleasure into their future lives.
We want all of our children to love reading as much as we do. Rather than following a reading scheme, each classroom has a wide range of fiction and non fiction books from a range of schemes. This provides children with books from a variety of authors and publishers so that they can choose to read a book that interests them, and have access new publications. Alongside this we use the National Scheme of colour banding to sort our books according to a gradient of challenge. In Key Stage One teachers regularly assess children's phonics/reading ability and give them appropriate reading materials to take home on a weekly basis. In Key Stage Two teachers guide pupils to independently choose books from the appropriate colour band, ensuring the appropriate level of challenge. The colour bands start at pink and progress until dark red.
In summary, at Northwood all pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. We believe that reading feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up their mind to joy, wonder and possibilities.
Here are the Reading and Spoken Language objectives for each year group.
At Northwood we have high expectations of writing. Teachers plan engaging lessons with daily purposeful writing opportunities based on real life situations or topical learning. Spelling, punctuation and grammar is taught daily in discreet lessons to ensure children develop a good command of standard English which becomes embedded, and can then be seen in their independent writing. Handwriting is taught throughout school from Reception, until pupils have developed a joined cursive script. When their writing is consistently joined correctly, they then receive a 'Pen Licence' which enables them to use an ink pen when writing - this achievement is individual to each child and can happen as early as Year Two!
Here are the sequenced Learning Objectives for each Year Group in Writing:
All children are given spellings to learn each week and many get them all correct in their weekly test. Due to the huge success of our ‘Master of Tables’ challenge, and how enthused the children are to get all the way to Gold we have also introduced ‘Master of Spelling’. Children need to learn words from the various age related spelling lists.
We have split the ‘Mastery’ awards into KS, lower KS2 and upper KS2, with Gold, Silver & Bronze for each Key Stage. Children must be able to spell the words correctly in their daily writing as well as in tests in order to gain each award.
At the beginning, all children will be tested at KS1 Bronze, Silver and Gold before they can move onto the KS2 words. Below you will find the spelling lists so that you can support your child at home to become a ‘Master of Spelling’.
Assessment of English is carried out on a continual basis by the teacher– daily, weekly, and termly. ‘Formative’ assessment (daily & weekly), feeds into Summative assessment (half-termly or the end of a unit).
In Reading, pupils from Years 2 to 6 are also given Reading Comprehension Tests throughout the year, so that they can demonstrate that they can read, answer questions and show understand of unfamiliar texts. This is a useful way of assessing what each child can do independently, and thus securely.
At Northwood we record summative assessment using an electronic assessment tool called SONAR Tracker. As children move through the year most will gradually secure the Learning Intentions (statements) for their year group’s age related expectations. The teacher will record these assessments onto SONAR Tracker, and it will be clear where any gaps in children’s learning are, and thus feed into future planning.
By the end of the school year, the majority of pupils achieve the expectations for their age in English, and are ready for the next steps in their education.
If you have any questions about the curriculum please don't hesitate to contact the office and they will make you an appointment with the relevant member of staff.