At Ark Blacklands, English sits at the heart of the curriculum. It is through talking, reading, writing and vocabulary acquisition that children learn to communicate ideas, express themselves deeply and to understand the world in which they live.
We place a huge importance on learning the skills of reading, developing both decoding and comprehension in partnership. We want all children to become confident and skilled readers with a lifelong love of books.
Early Reading: Becoming an accomplished reader is underpinned by a strong start in early reading. Phonics (taught using Read, Write Inc.) is the beginning of our children’s journey towards mastering reading. Our team of RWI Practitioners are relentless in their dedication to ensuring each and every child at Ark Blacklands learns to read as quickly as possible.
In phonics lessons, children learn one thing at a time, then keep practising it until they are ready to move onto learning the next skill. The RWI approach ensures that everything connects: children connect sounds with mnemonic pictures; words with their meanings; stories with the sounds they know, and children connect their own experiences to the stories they read.
Starting from the very first week of school, we teach phonics every single day to ensure success. Children are grouped according to their phonic ability so that every child makes rapid progress and any children falling behind are quickly identified. We employ a dedicated RWI professional to deliver interventions for our most vulnerable children.
We invest in the development of our Read Write Inc teachers through an ongoing relationship with the RWI team and regular coaching from our experienced Phonics Lead. We understand the importance of engaging parents: the Phonics Lead holds regular parent workshops, as well as maintaining dialogue with parents regarding their children’s reading.
Read to Succeed: Every child from Year 1 upwards at Ark Blacklands participates in Read to Succeed lessons. These lessons are based around high-quality books but are also supplemented with linked non-fiction texts and poetry. This exposure to a wide range of literature not only enhances comprehension skills but supports the acquisition of knowledge and ambitious vocabulary. Within the Read to Succeed lessons, children learn the necessary comprehension skills of retrieval, inference, paraphrasing and sequencing as well as learning to make connections between texts; to discuss and evaluate ideas and to express opinions. Vocabulary is taught both implicitly and explicitly so that the children can rapidly increase their ability to embed new words into their writing and into their speech.
Reading at Home: At Ark Blacklands we recognise children need constant practice to become established, fluent readers and therefore place a strong emphasis on reading at home in addition to school. All children, from EYFS to Year 6, are expected to read at least five times a week and record their reading in a reading record book. Parents are encouraged to support children in this. Teaching staff monitor children’s reading habits and book choices, working with parents to inspire our pupils to become great readers. In parallel with this, we celebrate children’s reading through sharing stories, partner classes, assemblies, awards and World Book Day.
All children are provided with many opportunities to; develop and apply their writing; to plan, revise and evaluate their writing, focusing on developing on both transcription and composition. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. We aim for all pupils to leave school being able to use fluent, legible and speedy handwriting.
Writing: At Ark Blacklands, writing begins from a very early age - as soon as a child can mark make. Gross and fine motor skills are developed through our provision within EYFS, ensuring all children developmentally prepared to form letters correctly (taught in Read Write Inc).
In Key Stage 1, children are taught the skills of writing through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre. In Key Stage 2, children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.
Throughout all year groups, we teach writing through engaging and challenging topic-based texts. This supports them in the application of vocabulary and structure. Children are given termly enrichment opportunities to promote and inspire writing of a high quality across the curriculum.
Teachers initially model and scaffold the learning before giving the children the opportunity to practise the skills needed for them to write independently. Intentional monitoring is used throughout the lessons to provide the children with timely and constructive feedback, having immediate impact on their writing progression. Understanding the structural and technical knowledge of language, enables children to grow a life-long means of communication and ability to express themselves.
Spelling: Our spelling curriculum follows on from the Read Write Inc Programme taught in Reception and Year 1, developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group. Children in Years 2-6 receive a spelling lesson at the start of the spelling week where they are systematically taught the spelling rules and requirements before embedding them throughout the week. Spellings are sent home as part of homework and children are tested each week.
Handwriting: We use Oxford University Press’s Nelson Handwriting scheme. Children in EYFS practise letter formation as part of their daily phonics. This is carried through to Year 1 where children receive timetabled handwriting sessions. In year 2, children will learn to join their handwriting. In Key Stage 2, children continue to work on joining, legibility and writing at length, receiving a pen license when they can fluently write in a neat, cursive style through the curriculum. By the time children get to year 5, all children are expected to be writing in pen. Handwriting progress is celebrated across the school through handwriting walls and published workbooks.
Our English curriculum ensures that pupils leave Ark Blacklands Primary Academy with the skills they need for success at secondary school and beyond.
Please see here for further detail of the impact of our English curriculum.
Our English overview
We believe in the importance of using quality texts to support the teaching of reading and writing at Ark Blacklands. Our English overview, detailing how our Book Spine supports writing devlopment, can be seen here: