English at Eaton Park
Subject leaders: Kathy Smith, Amy Barlow, Amanda Whitmore
Subject coach: Mrs Sawyer
Link governor: Mrs Jones
It is our aim at Eaton Park to strive with great determination to ensure that children become fluent, confident pupils who enjoy opening a book. This is achieved through the use of quality stories and texts across the academy that interest, inspire and excite our children. We are passionate about ensuring that children read widely and often across the whole curriculum which in turn will aid them to acquire new knowledge and gain the necessary skills to read and understand texts for the rest of their education and beyond. This immersion in a variety of genres enable us to use these as models for the children’s own writing. This approach moves the children from dependence towards independence with the teacher using guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively, powerfully and accurately. For us at Eaton Park, reading and writing go hand in hand, and it is our aim that the reading culture we create in school will inspire our children to write both imaginatively and creatively. Prioritising the barriers that our children have in their learning, we aim to prepare our children for their future education and beyond by promoting the acquisition of new vocabulary constantly and consistently, working incredibly hard to provide our children with the skills to both understand and use a wide range of vocabulary in both reading and writing lessons.
The Subject Leader:
I would like to introduce myself as Mrs Sawyer – subject coach for English. Having a passion and love for language and literature, I believe that I am equipped with the skills to support, coach and mentor staff in delivering a consistent, enjoyable and challenging experience for all of our children.
My roles across the academy include being a role model for staff, ensuring that every member of our academy speaks, listens, reads and writes well in order to support pupils in developing their language and vocabulary. In addition, ensuring that we have a rigorous and sequential approach to the English curriculum is high on my agenda so that pupil’s fluency, confidence and enjoyment in both reading and writing is evident across all year groups. Another one of my priorities is making sure that reading itself is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum on offer at our academy. Furthermore, I am dedicated to ensuring that our children receive a coherently planned and sequenced curriculum which enables our children to gain sufficient knowledge and skills for life in the future. Subject knowledge across the academy is strong; however, should members of staff need any specific support with particular areas of English, this is addressed through quality CPD either with training delivered by myself and the English team, or through accessing what is on offer outside of our academy, including collaboration with other schools within our trust.
I would also like to introduce myself as Mrs Smith – an English leader. I work alongside Mrs Sawyer and the English team to develop and promote the many strands of the English curriculum. Being based in the Early Years gives me an ideal opportunity to ensure our youngest pupils have the very best start to their education and develop the key skills and attributes to become effective and independent learners.
Curriculum and its design:
English is at the heart of everything we do here at Eaton Park. Our curriculum is designed to be ambitious and meet the needs of all pupils through tailored differentiation. Taking the objectives from the National Curriculum, we deliver a sequence of sessions for English which marry reading and writing together. Starting with ‘book talk’, the children are taught how to predict, retrieve, infer, understand language, summarise and give justifications for their answers. This approach enables the children to gain lots of reading skills while becoming familiar with authorial style which leads into the teaching of writing. The writing process begins with the children being exposed to what they are expected to achieve, giving them knowledge of structure and organisation, writing style for the genre and also an understanding of the specific vocabulary needed. As stated in the National Curriculum, we prioritise drafting and editing and consistently include this within our sequence of sessions. In addition, we are also a ‘Talk for Writing’ school and put an immense value on linking spoken language and listening to writing.
Demonstrating that reading is a priority across the academy, high quality texts have been carefully selected to ensure engagement of all pupils. These texts are linked directly to the foundation subjects. Using these texts ensures our children are fully immersed in their topic and this in turn moves children towards a deep level of understanding where they use and apply skills and knowledge in different areas.
As an academy, we follow a whole school reading programme called Bug Club which is a powerful guided and independent scheme that supports reading and spelling. It combines a library of stunning books with an incredible online reading world that help to develop confident young readers. Every child has their own log in details to access Bug Club at any time. This programme is used throughout the academy, from Foundation Stage through to Year 6 and forms part of the delivery of reading across the academy and guided reading sessions, as well as supporting home reading – teachers allocate books for children to read into virtual reading bags.
Early Years Foundation Stage:
The Early Years Foundation Stage provides a language rich and stimulating environment that promotes our love of language and literacy. From the start of Nursery, we develop the children’s attention and listening skills through shared group time and activities such as listening to stories or listening for sounds in the environment. Opportunities for speaking and the development of the children’s vocabulary is also at the heart of our curriculum. Bright and vibrant role play areas, which the children enjoy accessing, are in all the Early Years classrooms. Initiatives such as ‘Winston Wizard’ develop our children’s vocabulary. Twice a week, Winston Wizard will deliver a new word in the class register for the children to discuss and define and then use both in their speech and eventually writing.
Quality stories and nursery rhymes are celebrated in school, and the children quickly develop a love of reading and books. The children enjoy spending time in their own class reading areas, and also visiting to the school library. Shared story time is an important part of each day and we also provide opportunities for the parents to join their children for story time sessions. All children will start their reading journey in the Nursery, taking home books to share and eventually read with their families. Children in the Early Years also have access to the Bug Club online reading resource. Letter sounds and common exception words are provided so that parents can support their child at home.
Early reading is explicitly taught in both English and Phonics sessions in Reception class. The school follows a systematic synthetic phonics program that enables and supports the children to begin to blend sounds to read. Our English sessions are taught through quality texts that motivate, inspire and challenge the children.
Developing the children’s gross and fine motor skills support early writing. Activities such as disco dough, threading and using tweezers strengthen the children’s fingers and grasp. These skills eventually enable the children to hold and use pencils effectively and their writing journey begins. At Eaton Park, we provide numerous daily opportunities for the children to write and practise their newly acquired writing skills.
Reading for pleasure:
At the heart of our curriculum is the teaching, promotion and encouragement of regular reading. Reading is key to accessing the whole curriculum, and through a variety of teaching strategies and techniques, children are given plentiful opportunities to become fluent, confident pupils that choose to pick up a book and read for pleasure.
Reading for pleasure is promoted and encouraged in many ways:
During the English session where a range of genres, different texts and authors are explored
Book talk within English sequence of sessions
Regular one to one reading with the class teacher or TA in FS and in KS1/KS2 where appropriate
Daily story time – class novel
Use of library – school library/reading buddies and links with local libraries
Recommendation boards in each classroom/displays outside of the library
Celebrations of World Book Day
Mystery readers in FS/KS1
Each classroom has a reading area
Access to reading for pleasure books at playtimes
Whole class guided reading:
As reading is a priority, we deliver further reading sessions outside of the English lesson. Whole class guided reading takes place three times per week. Our guided reading sessions are designed and taught so that pupils read at an age-related expectation; the majority of children read a story, text or poem at the standard appropriate for their year band. Questions are differentiated to challenge our more able children. Regarding our children with SEND, we provide reading material which is suitable to meeting their immediate needs. During guided reading, the following sequence is adhered to in each year band:
• Becoming familiar with the text – reading together with teacher modelling first, then children reading aloud, paired reading and individual reading.
• The teaching of new vocabulary – children working out in context and also using dictionaries to support.
• Questions – guided/independent (based on a range of reading skills from across the reading curriculum.
Home reading and the Bookworm:
It is the belief of every member of staff at the academy that reading progress and attainment is supported heavily by reading at home. Because of this belief, we set ambitious reading expectations at home as well as in school. High on our agenda is also developing readers that read for pleasure and possess a passion for reading. It is the expectation, as part of our homework policy, that the children read at least three times per week (this includes the use of Bug Club online). Reading diaries are in important part of the school day – teaching staff regularly check consistency of reading at home and liaise with parents/carers as necessary through these.
Home reading books in Reception are phonic based and the books are closely matched to the children’s ongoing phonics ability. The children will practice and apply at home the sounds that are taught in school.
Book worm is an aspirational challenge that we set the children involving home reading. To promote consistent, positive attitudes towards reading for pleasure and to help children develop the habit of reading widely and often, we encourage our children to read 5 times per week (3 is set as the minimum). The children who read 5 times per week consistently over a half term all receive a prize and a congratulatory letter sent home. All children are then entered into a prize draw which is drawn in a celebration assembly at the end of each half term. We have a winner from EYFS/KS1 and a winner from KS2 – a prize that children vote for themselves.
English within other subjects:
English is central to every subject taught across the academy. Reading is prioritised again throughout the teaching of foundation subjects – for example, when teaching history, we provide the children with opportunities to use essential reading skills alongside encouraging the learning of new knowledge such as ‘life as an evacuee in WWII.’ These opportunities are consistently provided across all of the foundation subjects. As well as this, writing skills are used within the foundation subjects when children are required to apply both their grammar skills and their knowledge learnt in a subject while structuring a piece of writing which demonstrates their learning so far – for example, in geography where children have been taught about climates across the world, they will write a report detailing the different climates in different continents.
English and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development
Our children thoroughly enjoy their reading experiences in school and show a real fascination when learning about characters and the different settings the stories take them to. Children display extremely positive attitudes towards reading and are motivated to use stories and texts to help them when writing for a range of purposes and audiences. Within English, children are exposed to many moral questions which arise in the stories and texts we provide them with. Children explore moral questions through discussion, role play and debate activities which lead to children being able to empathise with characters and also make decisions themselves. Additionally, our children thrive on using their imaginations and explore their creativity in lessons while writing their own stories and innovated texts. Furthermore, our children lead their own learning within the classroom and consistently take part in self and peer assessment activities which give them the opportunity to reflect upon their own progress and achievements. Relationships are strong across the academy, demonstrating that we value the relationships that we have with the children and also the importance of the positive relationships which children have with each other – collaborative work within English provides the children with excellent learning experiences which teach them the importance of listening, sharing, appreciating other viewpoints and being respectful towards others. During guided reading, children’s understanding and appreciation of a range of texts brings them into contact with their own literary heritage and also texts from other cultures.
Eaton Park Speakers:
At Eaton Park, we have developed our own approach to assessing speaking and listening. We have introduced Eaton Park Speakers which enables our children to become confident speakers and inquisitive listeners. We believe that speaking and listening should underpin all aspects of the curriculum and be enjoyable and memorable. We assess this strand of English and deliver it in this way to make it to create a positive mind set when it comes to speaking and listening and so the children can achieve something alongside developing this area of their learning. Eaton Park Speakers takes part from Reception up to Year 6 and includes our children reciting from memory, presenting something memorable or engaging for them and reading extracts to their peers. This is assessed in an informal style with familiar members of staff, so the children are relaxed and find this an enjoyable experience. This summative assessment allows them to achieve certificates and all efforts are celebrated across the school. This is completed in the summer term to allow teachers to intertwine opportunities for speaking and listening into daily practice.
The academy has its own assessment tool. This consists of skills and objectives for each year band that a child is working on which enables them to achieve age-related expectation. A child starting a new academic year will aim to follow the following path: emerging, securing and then to deepening within their year band. It is a 9 point assessment tool – following a 3 point path for each section. We record our assessment information here; this then informs our planning.
Children are constantly being assessed throughout English sessions to measure achievements and create next steps. This informs planning so that children’s progress is maximised. Teachers’ assess children’s work daily through intervention marking and instant verbal feedback and then marking books after the lesson. Aspects of writing are analysed and feedback provided in terms of praise and next steps on a daily basis. In terms of reading, children are assessed via questioning that is related to the assessment focus and verbal feedback is given. Reading progress is evidenced in the children’s guided reading folders and in their English books.
In addition to this, children are assessed half-termly in a number of ways via progress tests for reading, and also teachers look in depth at the independent writing produced in their books.
In addition to these in-school assessments there are statutory assessment that take place. In Year 1, children take part in the Phonics screening in the summer term. Children who did not pass the test in Y1 retake the test at the same time of year in Y2. In Year 2 and Year 6 the children take a formal reading and SPaG assessment as part of SATs.
Children have opportunities to visit the school Library on a weekly basis. Children are encouraged to read for pleasure at home and at school. We have reading ambassadors in school who are Year 6 librarians who open the library up to children every lunchtime. Furthermore, Eaton Park collaborates with the local library and invites them in to speak to both children and parents. The sessions begin as early as Nursery where reading for enjoyment is promoted through the use of the library and the many events that it runs. An initiative that is welcomed by children from the EYFS is the ‘Little Library Van’ that pays the children an annual visit to encourage positive reading habits; and again parents are invited to share this experience also. As an academy, we are always involved in the ‘Summer Reading Challenge’ – library staff come into school to encourage children to read over the summer, and we celebrate this at the start of the new academic year. At different points throughout the year, we are invited to attend a variety of workshops which are both reading and writing based; an example being a fantasy writing workshop led by an author.
As well as our library links, the children have many other things on offer to them at our academy. After school, we have our Bug Club, Grammar and Storytelling clubs which provide our children with further stimulating and purposeful experiences across the English curriculum. Over the course of the academic year, we invite parents/carers into school for workshops based on phonics, Bug Club and how to help your child with reading at home. These are always well received by our families at home. Moreover, family learning workshops often have an English focus which enables our children to embed their skills at in the home environment. Every year, each year band visits the theatre, and we also plan for companies to come into school and perform particular productions which link to the children’s learning in foundation subjects.
Liverpool Reads Quality Mark:
During the summer term of 2019, the academy was awarded the gold award for the Liverpool Reads Quality Mark. This award demonstrates the strong collaboration of leaders across the academy, that reading is a main priority for us and that the children of Eaton Park Academy enjoy reading and are actively involved in the promotion of reading across the school. The following are quotes taken from our report:
“The whole school commitment to the LRQM is evident, with all parties actively engaged. The hard work and leadership of the Reading Team has been a real driving force. This has led to a creative learning environment within which reading has a pivotal role.”
“The Reading Ambassadors are a credit to the school. In the time since they have undertaken the role and responsibilities, the children have flourished, grown in confidence and have had a really positive impact on reading.”
“I like to bring my books in from home to share with my friends. I bought the book ‘The Night Box’. Did you know the light goes in to the box at night time? Reading to the class is fun.”
“I make sure that my handwriting is neat and I use my joins. We got to write all about our trip to Blue Planet and we learnt what an expanded noun phrase was. It has two adjectives!”
“I am excited to write about ‘The Polar Express’. We are doing it for our Christmas play and I love it.”
“In English I can let my imagination roam because we write sequels to stories that we have written. I also like sharing ideas with friends and I enjoy peer assessing my partner’s work.”
“I love too practise new skills in English, like parenthesis. English is my favourite subject, and I love drafting and being able to improve my writing.”
“I like English because we read different stories and get to summarise them.”
Eaton Park Academy Diary Dates