At Birchwood, we believe that a high-quality English curriculum is the gateway to accessing all areas of the wider curriculum. We value language and vocabulary as an essential element to children’s future participation in society. We have placed the English National Curriculum, alongside an exposure to a wide range of rich texts, at the heart of our teaching and learning. Through our thematic approach across the children’s time at Birchwood, they will experience a wealth of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts (as well as poetry). This immerses them in a high-quality education which supports them to read and write fluently from a young age. Our overall aim is inclusivity. We want all of our children to be fluent writers who have developed a breadth of vocabulary within their own spoken language. It is vital that our children learn discrete writing skills in a progressive sequence, ensuring that their transcription is fluent, which will ensure that children can spend more time thinking about the content of their writing and constructing effective sentences. Through carefully planned writing sequences alongside discrete VGPS lessons, children are taught the spelling, grammar and punctuation that is expected for their age. They are also exposed to a variety of different text types within both their reading and writing to prepare them for writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. The skills and knowledge within reading and writing are taught together as an ecosystem which equips children with an understanding of the impact that they can have on an audience with their writing.
Early reading and writing are supported by ‘Little Wandle’ for ‘Letters and Sounds Revised’. By providing all teaching staff across school with regular professional development, this ensures that our teaching and learning approaches are consistent to enable children to make excellent progress in phonics. To support children in their writing, a carefully planned sequence of lessons enables children to focus on vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and spelling, while developing their creativity and independence within their writing. Children have the opportunity to write for a range of purposes to develop their skills as fiction and non-fiction writers. Children begin their sequence of learning by being immersed in the writing and text type. This may include looking at the features of a text and gaining the relevant information to be able to write about a subject successfully. They will then gather vocabulary which will support them in their writing through looking at example texts and through teacher input. Once children have gathered appropriate and high-level vocabulary, they will then begin to construct sentences, focusing on structuring their sentences in different ways and including age-related grammar and punctuation skills. Children will then plan their writing, understanding how to organise their thoughts to have the most desired impact on the reader. When children have gathered an understanding of all of this, they will be able to draft their writing independently, with teachers providing feedback verbally and through marking. When children have drafted their writing, they will gain feedback from their peers and teaching staff, encouraging them to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are proud of their final draft. Their writing takes on many forms and they are encouraged from an early age to review the successes of their own writing and to make regular improvements to their own work and to the work of their peers. Across school, we focus importance upon handwriting through our pencil and pen progression and discrete, daily handwriting lessons.
As a result of high-quality English teaching and learning at Birchwood and the focus that we place on vocabulary across the curriculum, our children leave as confident, fluent and enthusiastic writers. They are able to talk about their own writing and the various forms, purposes and impact that their writing may have. Their independent writing will also include the grammar, punctuation and spelling skills that have been taught as part of their sequence of learning. Children will be able to apply these skills across all curriculum subjects – this ensures that they are ready for the next stage of their education. Children will also have a wide range of texts and authors/poets that have been shared with them throughout their learning journey. Throughout the school year, children are regularly assessed against the National Curriculum to ensure that writing is at an age-appropriate standard. Our results at the end of each key stage demonstrate a high-quality English curriculum and good progression during children’s time at Birchwood. Through our half-termly pupil progress meetings, those children who need additional support with writing are identified quickly by teaching staff and measures are put in place to support so that all children make good progress.