Our English curriculum at Haseltine is ambitious and is planned and taught in a way that enables our children to become eloquent, passionate and creative authors. Through the English curriculum, we help children develop the skills and knowledge that will equip them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language.
We are a school that reads for pleasure. Teachers are reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books, but also in their book and author choices. Our planning, topics, resources and book corners are representative of our school community, as we believe our children have the right to see themselves reflected in the books they read and the authors they know and love.
English is taught in a cross curricular way and our topics are engaging, inclusive and inspiring. Our children understand that they are expected to try their best in in all of their writing, no matter what the subject. We work towards a final outcome (e.g. a story, newspaper report, diary etc) and provide opportunities for discussion, immersion and opinion along the way. English and reading lessons are taught in an interactive and creative way and include the use of not only quality texts, but also other resources that inspire the children to generate their own ideas to communicate. Some of these resources include story telling headphones (Now Press Play), external visits and workshops.
At Haseltine we are often visited by authors, illustrators and poets. These visitors are an invaluable resource to our Haseltine community. We invite visitors that come from all different backgrounds and cultures to help us understand, enjoy, empathise and relate to different human lives around the world, as well as in our local community.
“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” – Maya Angelou
A home reading scheme is operated throughout the school whereby children bring home books to share with their families each week. Instilling a love of reading is a key aim of our reading curriculum, so children do get opportunities throughout the week to read for pleasure. These opportunities include daily story times, whole class reading sessions and buddy reading with their partner classes in the library.
In Year 1 and Year 2, the children take part in a scheme called Daily Supported Reading. In these sessions the children enjoy daily independent reading in small groups matched to their independent reading level and are led by a trained adult. If there are children in other year groups who have gaps in their fluency (overall pace of reading) they are also enrolled into the Daily Supported Reading scheme.
In KS2 the children take part in a scheme called Destination Reader. Destination Reader involves daily sessions incorporating whole class modelling prior to the children applying these skills through partner work and independent reading. Children deepen their understanding of the texts they read through the systematic use of a series of strategies and language stems. Both Destination Reader and Daily Supported Reading are schemes from the Hackney Services for Schools.
The use of engaging, relevant and high quality texts is central to our writing curriculum. These act as stimuli for children to develop and extend their writing skills. Children write for purpose wherever possible on a theme linked to the half termly topic. This commitment to ensuring the children write for purpose is why we have planned our writing curriculum around a scheme called ‘Grammar for Writing’. This scheme has been adapted into three curriculums: EYFS and Year 1, KS1 and Year 3 and Years 4 – 6.
In the EYFS and KS1, phonics is taught daily. At Haseltine, we follow a new scheme called Little Wandle. In addition to planned phonics sessions, the children are encouraged to apply this in their own reading and writing. In KS2, children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge receive additional teaching or intervention to ensure that they are fluent in using phonics.
Every week, children from Years 2 to Year 6 have a spelling test. Spellings are also set for the following week, and sent home to be practised. The children will also practise personalised spellings in class if the need arises. Spelling is taught 3 times a week in KS2 (we follow a scheme called Essential Spelling) and daily (through phonics) in KS1.
The teaching of grammar is embedded in English units wherever possible. Sometimes, there will also be a need to spend whole lessons on grammar to ensure understanding. Children are taught to recognise and manipulate for effect different word classes, i.e. nouns and verbs. Correct punctuation is modelled at all times in lessons, and children are expected to use punctuation appropriate to their age and stage in their writing.
At Haseltine, children are encouraged to use a cursive script from the Foundation Stage. This is practised weekly throughout the school to ensure excellence.