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English at Fairlop - a visual journey through our approach

English at Fairlop
At Fairlop, our aim is for children to be able to communicate confidently and meaningfully both orally and through written language and to develop their love of literature through reading for enjoyment as well as for understanding.

By the time that pupils move on from our school, our aim is for them to:

  • be fluent readers and writers;
  • have a positive attitude towards books and reading, reading widely for pleasure and information;
  • enjoy writing in different contexts and for different purposes and audiences;
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting language and style accordingly;
  • be curious and creative when it comes to reading and writing, for example by being interested in learning the meaning of new words; 
  • have a wide vocabulary and understanding of grammar;
  • feel confident speaking in class and be able to clearly explain their understanding and ideas; and
  • listen carefully and sensitively to adults and their peers.

We teach English best when:

  • there is a joyful culture around reading in the school;
  • all staff feel they have the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional support they need to teach English effectively;
  • there is sufficiently detailed and frequent ongoing assessment of pupil progress;
  • we expose pupils to different types of reading material, such as, through stimulating, high-quality and curiosity-inspiring classroom displays;
  • we involve families in supporting their child’s reading and writing;
  • the English curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced;
  • we identify where pupils have learning gaps or are not making the expected progress and make sure interventions are put in place to target these gaps;
  • teaching resources are available, up to date, varied and diverse, and match pupil and curriculum needs;
  • we engage pupils in high-quality back-and-forth interactions;
  • we model new language and accurate grammar to pupils; and
  • we support pupils with speech, language and communication needs, for example, through additional small-group story times.

Speaking and listening
Talk is at the core of our curriculum. Speaking and listening skills are developed through group discussions, drama and role-plays. At Fairlop, we believe that having the skills to ask and answer open-ended questions will develop our children’s spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary, which are all vital life skills.  In all key stages, speaking and listening is an integral part of daily English teaching. Teachers identify and plan for opportunities to build oracy into all areas of the curriculum. Children are taught to justify ideas with reasons, ask questions, speculate, hypothesise and explore ideas in order to develop and build their understanding as well as negotiate, evaluate and build on the ideas of others.

At Fairlop, we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of key stage 1 (KS1). In order to do this, we follow an adapted version of the Letters and Sounds programme and provide every child with high quality phonics. This plays a key role in children developing word decoding skills. In order to achieve this, we use a systematic approach where every child in reception, year 1 and year 2 receives a daily phonics lessons. Fairlop has made the decision to remain using Letters and Sounds, rather than a systematic synthetic phonics teaching programme (SSP) on the government’s validated list, as we have developed the programme to ensure that it is rigorous, systematic, used with fidelity and achieves strong results for all pupils, including the most disadvantaged. 

At Fairlop, we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of KS1. As the children move into KS2 we want them to continue to improve their fluency alongside developing their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Our aim is for children to become confident and independent readers who gain essential skills for participation in all areas of life. Competence enables enjoyment and appreciation of literature and access to information from a variety of sources. This is achieved through a systematic approach to teaching phonics, individual reading, whole class reading, text-based English lessons, weekly library sessions and reading at home.

At Fairlop, our aim is for children to communicate meaningfully when writing for a variety of audiences and purposes. Writing requires the orchestration of a number of complex skills including the ability to construct and organise a text in an appropriate style and to use punctuation, grammar, spelling and handwriting. Confident, independent writers will be able to express themselves creatively and also to communicate information clearly and concisely. Units of work are planned around high-quality age-appropriate texts that engage and inspire the children. Writing tasks are set linked to the core text being studied. The purpose and audience of each piece of writing is shared with the children.

Writing is taught using the objectives from the national curriculum.  The teaching of writing is experienced in the following ways:

  • Shared writing
  • Paired writing
  • Mixed ability groupings
  • Independent and extended writing

Spelling, grammar and punctuation
Most of the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar is built into the main English lessons, allowing children to develop these skills in the context of real stories and writing. Discrete sessions, where necessary, are taught using ‘Rising Stars’ resources which break down key areas into separate units of work. These allow for short, focused sessions to help consolidate the children’s learning. From years 1 – 6, the warm-up for English lessons is either a ‘word of the day’ to expand vocabulary or a ‘grammar warm-up’ to revise key grammar concepts relevant to the year group.

In KS1 children learn spelling through the SSP that is delivered, beginning to learn spelling rules in year 2 as part of Phase 6. In key stage 2 (KS2), children are taught spelling strategies and rules following the progression outlined in the ‘Support for Spelling’ document and the National Curriculum. The children are given spellings based on the spelling rules and the word list for their year group to learn for a weekly test.

Cursive handwriting is taught across the school from Reception based on the agreed font used at Fairlop outlined in the Handwriting Policy.

Cross-curricular links
We facilitate cross-curricular learning of English skills, making sure that the links with other curriculums are natural and not forced. There is an expectation that the quality of writing across the curriculum will be consistent with the quality of writing within English lessons. English is used across the curriculum through activities in other subjects, such as:

  • Annotating sources
  • Group discussions
  • Comprehension
  • Topic research
  • Subject specific pieces of writing that use the appropriate vocabulary and style.