In Year 1 the children immerse themselves in their half termly topics where their learning is based around a key theme. Autumn Term in Year 1 begins with the topic ‘All About Me’ where the children explore texts that focus on the five senses and familiar settings. They explore and enjoy The Tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr and We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen where they write their own versions of each story. They explore the poem That’s what I like by Janice Johnston and That’s not a stick by Antoinette Portis is looked at to introduce labelling to the children. For the second part of the Autumn Term the children look at key texts based around the topic ‘Toys’. They learn about the story of Pinocchio and use their imagination to create their own versions. They also look at The Nutcracker by Mathew Bourne, where they create a wanted poster for the nutcracker.
For our Spring Term topic ‘The Artic’, the children learn about a fictional explorer called Henry from the fiction book called Henry and the Yeti by Russel Ayto. Children write their own poems about an Arctic animal using alliteration and rhyme. They also write their own story based on the children’s book The little Polar Bear by Hans De Beer. For the second part of the Spring Term the children focus on the topic ‘A Gardeners World’ where they look closely at plurals and how to use these in a narrative using the story Jack and the Beanstalk.The children also look at haiku’s, focusing on adjectives and how to implement these into their own haiku poem about nature. Eric Carle’s ‘The Tiny Seed’, is also looked at to introduce the idea of past and present tense to the children, where they will look at journeys and write their own recount.
In the Summer Term the children begin with the topic ‘Africa’ and use talk for writing to learn Meerkat mail by Emily Gravett. They make actions to the shortened text and perform it. This helps them to absorb the features of the story which they then use to write their own versions about another animal that goes on a journey. They listen to Let’s Explore Kenya by Elle Parkes which follows a safari through the Savannah and then use this text to create a non-fiction piece of writing. For the second part of Summer Term where the focus is all about animals, children listen to the Tigress by Nick Dowson and learn the features of a non-fiction book to write an informative poster about the animal. They learn some poems that contain facts about animal habitats and create actions to go with the poems to perform them. They then use these to practise writing their own poems. The last two texts of this half term are fictional stories about made up creatures. The first story The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell gives children the opportunity to paint their own monster and then write a detailed description about it. The last story The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Milward inspires the children to create their own bog babies that have animal features as a stimulus for writing.
In Year 2 the children focus on a range of text types each term covering both fiction and non-fiction. In the Autumn Term the children enjoy performing and writing the story of The Gingerbread man as well as writing instructions and riddles. They also explore the story ‘The Snowman’ before planning and writing their own versions. In the Spring Term the children write non chronological reports, rehearse and learn the text Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and then write their own extended stories, and focus on performance poetry based on the Magic Box poem by Kit Wright. In the Summer Term the children focus on the text The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers, create a piece of writing using The Literacy Shed film clip Bubbles as inspiration, write a recount and create their own descriptive wanted posters.
In Year 2, lot of the texts both fiction and non-fiction, are taught using a ‘talk for writing’ approach which involves the children orally rehearsing and learning the model text, studying the key features in each text, planning their own versions and then finally using their learning to create their own writing. The children love putting actions to texts to learn them and enjoy performing them to their peers. To help the children to plan their own versions of stories they use story mountains which helps them to structure their ideas and ensure that their stories include the key elements of a beginning, build-up, problem, resolution and an ending. In each model text, the children look at and discuss new vocabulary. They are then encouraged to use this new vocabulary in their own writing.
In Year 2 the children enjoy reading a range of books from our reading corners with their peers. They enjoy daily story time with their class teachers and throughout the year read lots of books by their class authors Roald Dahl and Anthony Browne.
In Year 3 the children explore a variety of different genres of writing; traditional tales (fables), adventure stories, instructions, reports and poetry. Within each category of writing the children learn about and apply various grammatical features into their work including paragraphs, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, headings and subheadings, inverted commas, noun phrases and creating cohesion.
The first piece of writing the children create is based on the story “Stone Age Boy”. The story encourages the children to imagine what it would feel like to trip over and fall into a world that existed 20,000 years ago. Through exploring the character of the boy, who uses his skills to make friends, fire, tools, learn to cook amongst other experiences, the children go on to create exciting drama pieces, story maps and their own rendition of the story.
The children enjoy writing haiku’s following the same theme as their previous piece of writing – The Stone Age. The haiku originates from Japan and has a mood that is generally serious with links to nature or love. The children learn about syllables with the line structure as follows: Line 1: 5 syllables; Line 2: 7 syllables; Line 3: 5 syllables. As haikus are very short, composing them challenges the children to find a few really good words to describe something using a thesaurus.
As the children move into the Spring Term, they are immersed in their next topic- ‘What a Wonderful World’. For this topic, the children study various non-chronological reports of animals that exist on our planet. The paragraphs written are each dedicated to a selection of facts about the animal - appearance, habitat, diet, and behaviours. After reading over many of these reports and identifying features found in the reports, the children then plan and write their own reports about their own made up animals! Tilis, spilesps and alikittens are the names of a few animals that were created this Spring Term.
In our most recent write, the children wrote newspaper reports based on the story “Tuesday” by David Wiesner. The picture book tells an elaborate story of frogs magically flying around town on their lily pads one fateful night. Through hot seating and role play, the children explore the thoughts and feelings of various characters – the police officer, the grandma and the man eating his midnight snack. In doing this, the children learn to use inverted commas to demonstrate direct speech accurately.
In Year 4, most of our English lessons are based on our termly topics, so that the children can completely immerse themselves in their learning. They also have explicit grammar lessons taught weekly alongside daily starters. At the start of the year our topic is Anglo-Saxons. We dive into Beowulf and describe the different characters. The children delve deeper into the story by text mapping the story, finding the different features used and boxing it up. Using all of this information the children then create their own Anglo-Saxon adventure stories based on Beowulf. They also then become someone from the Anglo-Saxon times and write diary entries on an example day. We then move onto the Vikings and as the children gain more information they create non-chronological reports about life in Viking Britain. Using the book ‘How to train your dragon’ the children create a set of instructions on how to look after a pet dragon. In Spring Term their topic is ‘rainforests’. They start by looking at the book ‘The great kapok tree’, creating a persuasive advert to visit the rainforest. Using their knowledge of the rainforest animals, the children next look at different poetry styles and using the theme of ‘walking with my iguana’, create their own poem in a similar style. The focus shifts in the Spring Term to deforestation of the rainforests and we look at ‘The vanishing rainforest’ using the research from our topic lessons to create a persuasive leaflet to make people stop cutting down the rainforests. At the start of the Summer Term our topic looks at ‘Wonderful Water’. The children link their science learning and write an explanation text about the water cycle. They also create their own poems using the features of ‘Six ways of looking at a cloud’. The last topic of year 4 is based on a Harry Potter book, where they create newspaper articles for the Daily Prophet, write letters back home from Hogwarts and describe different characters.
In Year 5 the children enjoy English lessons based on their termly topics where they are fully immersed in their learning. Our Ancient Egypt topic involves the children researching, designing and writing their own recipe page for mummifying their teacher! When learning about natural disasters the children explore the story of Pompeii and craft their own fictional stories involving two characters escaping the wrath of Mount Vesuvius. When learning about WW1, the children read and perform 'In Flanders Fields', before expressing their own feelings through poetry based on what it would be like to be a soldier during trench warfare.
In Year 5 the children enjoy reading the novels Kensuke's Kingdom by Micheal Morpurgo and Kick by Mitch Johnson. They research the setting of Kick, discovering what a child would be expected to do to support their family and how the city of Jakarta, Indonesia compares to Milton Keynes. We also ask questions on post-it notes about the book before we read it and re-visit them afterwards.
Throughout all strands of our English teaching (Grammar, Reading and Writing) our primary aim is to create life-long learners who have a passion for the subject and the skills they require.
In Year 6 children develop greater control over their writing and refine the skills of editing their own work following self and peer assessment along with teacher feedback. The children are proud of the work they produce in their exciting writing books as their ‘published’ pieces and these books showcase the children’s ability to write extended pieces across a range of genres and text types. Where possible text and visual literacy stimuli are linked to the interests of the children to ensure that the children are excited and engaged in the topic. In Spring Term, we use an educational visit as a first-hand experience to further enhance the children’s understanding in what can be a tricky skill of persuasive writing.
With our reading for enjoyment sessions, children share 3 texts: Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans, The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Kaspar: Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo. These sessions allow for shared reading of the texts, discussion of vocabulary and themes to ensure the children have a firm grasp of what is happening as well as being the basis for developing their wider comprehension skills. Alongside these texts we also use song lyrics to support our teaching of poetry. We found that using music as the starting point to draw out the children’s understanding helped them to engage much more with poetry and their understanding of this text type has been greatly improved by using this approach.
Phonics and Spelling
At Giffard Park Primary School phonics is taught daily across each year group. These lessons are taught using the ‘Read Write Inc Programme’ which is split into individual phases. Children in Year 1 and 2 are taught phonics together in small groups lead by either a Teacher or TA. Children are grouped according to the phase level that is appropriate for them and working with children in a different year group allows them to challenge and learn from each other. Children take home reading books which are closely matched to the phonics sounds that they have been learning within the sessions to ensure that they are able to feel successful in their reading at home.
Following on from the RWI for phonics programme, children move onto the comprehension programme which develops their fluency and comprehension skills. Each module has specially written texts (one fiction and one non-fiction) that develop children’s ability to summarise, infer and retrieve information quickly, as well improving their writing through cumulative vocabulary, grammar and spelling activities.
To continue the positive start the children make when learning phonics in Foundation and Key Stage 1, we use a spelling programme from Year 2 to Year 6 called ‘No Nonsense Spelling’. The children in Year 2 start this programme after they are assessed as confident with all of their phonic sounds. The focus of the spelling programme is on the teaching of spelling, which embraces knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules as well as the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exception words and personal spellings.
At Giffard Park School we strive to develop children’s love of books and reading for pleasure and enjoyment. There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development. Through becoming critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts, children will gain an understanding of how language works. Reading is part of school life at Giffard Park and involves all staff members. Children enjoy a range of themed book days throughout the school year, with World Book Day being a particular highlight. They take part in reading competitions, enjoy author visits and spend time reading with children in different year groups across the school. All classrooms have reading corners with a selection of fiction and non-fiction texts available for the children to explore and enjoy. All classes visit the school library once a week where they can select a book to take home and share with their family members. Daily story time with class teachers is incorporated into each class timetable and children enjoy listening to their teachers read aloud to them. Reading books are colour banded and consist of a collection of schemes and real books. Children are encouraged to read these books at home and will be entered into a reading raffle each Friday at school if they have read four times within that week. One child from each class will win a book to take home in our ‘Celebration Assembly’ to motivate and encourage reading across the school.
Writing is an essential tool in the learning process. Children write to express their emotions, to convey their thoughts and opinions and to present evidence of research. By developing these skills we can equip our children to use writing across the range of curricular activities in which they are involved. At Giffard Park we encourage our children to be proud of the work that they produce. At the end of each unit of work children complete an ‘Exciting Writing’ task. During this time children are given the opportunity to produce writing based on all that they have learnt across the unit of work. This writing is recorded in a special book that children take with them as they move through each year group. They are given time to share this work with their peers should they wish too, so that their writing can be celebrated. At Giffard Park children are given opportunities to write in a range of genres. They are taught to think about the audience, purpose and form of their writing. Children plan, edit and redraft their work with focus on presentation and handwriting and they are taught how to structure their writing using sentences, paragraphs and headings as appropriate. Examples of various forms of writing are displayed in all classrooms and are discussed regularly so that children become familiar with the structure and language features of these writing forms.
At Giffard Park we believe that a flexible, fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. Efficient handwriting leads to high quality writing and as such, we actively teach it as part of the English curriculum. Formal handwriting skills are taught regularly and systematically through the use of the PENPALS Handwriting scheme (Cambridge University Press). Five stages of handwriting are identified and these form the basic organisation of the scheme: readiness for writing: gross and fine motor skills leading to letter formation, beginning to join, securing joins, practising speed and fluency and presentation skills. Handwriting sessions at Giffard Park typically include a physical warm up to prepare the body, a physical activity engaging the gross motor skills required for the letters and joins taught that lesson, a clear description of the skill being taught, modelling from the class teacher and then time for children to practice. By providing frequent and regular handwriting sessions the skills learnt will then transfer into children’s wider work.
Speaking and Listening
At Giffard Park we believe that the ability to speak and listen is a fundamental life skill for pupil’s language and social development. It is an essential tool for all areas of the curriculum, as talk underpins learning and thinking. Children at Giffard Park are provided with many and varied contexts for talk, as well as direct teaching in the skills of speaking and listening so that they are able to use their knowledge, skills and understanding across a range of different situations. Class teachers play a vital role in modelling dialogue by offering opinions and inviting responses. Teachers model listening skills to their classes so that they understand the importance of turn taking and respecting the views of others. Children have a variety of opportunities within their lessons to use talk for learning. They are encouraged to demonstrate what they know as well as ask and answer questions in their talk partner pairs. They play an active role in directing their own learning by making decisions about how to approach a task and they are given opportunities to engage in speaking and listening by reading out loud work that they have produced or from a book. Children use language creatively and imaginatively through role-play, hot-seating and storytelling and teachers plan opportunities for ‘talk for writing’ for children to learn and rehearse texts orally and then invent their own versions.