At Neville’s Cross, English and the teaching of English is embedded throughout our curriculum. English at Neville’s Cross is not just a stand-alone lesson and instead we view it as a vital part of our children’s whole development. We provide our children with many exciting, enjoyable opportunities and experiences, to develop their English skills throughout all subject areas. Our curriculum is designed to ensure that all of our children will be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their reading, writing and language. We place great importance on providing our children with a variety of high quality texts, which will inspire them to develop as life-long readers, writers and linguists. The texts which form our Reading Spine and drive our writing curriculum are carefully chosen by staff to be progressive, varied and engaging so children are regularly exposed to a variety of authors, genres and styles, to broaden their wider vocabulary and interests.
We ensure that our children develop a secure knowledge base in English and set important foundations for spelling and grammar, following a clear pathway of progression from Nursery to Year 6, using the 2014 National Curriculum. We nurture a culture in which children can take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We place high standards on presentation and we follow the ‘Penpals’ scheme for handwriting to ensure that children develop a clear and consistent cursive script, preparing them for their secondary education. We value the importance of this alongside developing their basic skills in grammar, punctuation and spelling and regularly teach pupils how to refine and edit their writing over time, developing their independence and resilience to improve their own work. We recognise every child as an individual and we do not place ceilings on what they can achieve in English; we ensure that every child is supported to make progress along their school journey with us and we always celebrate their successes.
Our English curriculum is derived around high-quality age-appropriate stimuli. This could include; texts, videos, images or music. We use these to generate ‘buzz and excitement’ in lessons, providing a purpose or a hook to develop our reading and writing skills. We aim to develop grammar and punctuation knowledge, and understanding so children can use and apply a greater range of skills across the wider curriculum; explore the writing structure and features of different genres and identify the purpose and audience.
As stated in the National Curriculum 2014; the writing process, which the children will be taught is;
- evaluate/ edit
We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing. To engross children in the writing process, children are given opportunities to write for a range of purposes; they are encouraged to think about and engage the intended reader. Particular attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English; grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling.
Our English units are comprised of an English Learning Journey, usually lasting between 2 and 3 weeks. Our Learning Journeys are linked to a high-quality text or piece of digital literacy, e.g. video or animation. Using assessment knowledge of pupils’ needs, our teachers then plan a careful sequence of lessons to ensure pupils are taught the necessary grammar, punctuation and vocabulary knowledge and skills needed to apply within their writing. Pupils are given regular opportunities to write in different genres either as mini writes or extended pieces of writing.
Long Term Planning
Examples of Learning Journeys
For spelling, we follow the National Curriculum (2014), teaching the progression of spelling rules across the whole school. These are linked to our writing assessments and spelling objectives are taught linked to age-related expectations outlined in the Durham LA Writing Assessment grids. Each week, children are taught clear spelling rules/patterns and within spelling lessons have opportunities to investigate, practise and apply the rules/patterns taught.
Please see below our long term plans for Spelling:
To support your child in practising their weekly spellings, parents are given suggestions of activities to help their child. In addition, we also use Spelling Shed as this provides an engaging game-style format for pupils to practise their spellings at different levels of challenge. Each week, children complete a short spelling quiz comprising of five words which have been sent home to practise and five mystery words which assess the children’s ability to apply the rules.
Alongside learning spelling patterns and rules, the National Curriculum outlines some statutory word lists for spellings which children are expected to know by the end of a year or phase. We really appreciate parents and carers’ help in practising these words regularly, as many of them are high frequency words which children will encounter regularly when reading and writing.
On entry, our Foundation Stage children are involved in varied activities to develop essential prewriting skills in line with the Early Learning Goals; there is much focus on developing gross and fine motor skills and strengthening muscles in the arms and fingers. To develop gross motor skills, children in Nursery and Reception use a range of tools and activities including: using spades, using throwing/catching toys, using pushing/pulling toys, spray water bottles, climbing, using rollers, big brushes, mops, ribbons and scarves.
We use daily ‘Squiggle Time’ and regular ‘Dough Disco’ sessions alongside a variety of other activities to increase muscle strength and develop fine motor skills, e.g. threading, peg boards, tweezers, snipping with scissors, manipulating pegs, and using fastenings such as buttons, zips and laces. Children are encouraged to mark-make using a variety of writing implements, e.g. pens, pencils, crayons, glitter pens, gel pens, Biros, chalks etc.
When children are introduced to the individual letters and the sounds they make, they are rigorously taught the correct handwriting formation, from the very beginning of their time in school. The use of the mnemonics and ditties for letter formation as outlined in our Phonics SSP (Essential Letters and Sounds) are used consistently across EYFS and beyond as a hook to support pupils’ emerging letter formation skills. From the time that children are ready, they are taught to sit with a good posture and are taught to hold a pencil with the correct grip. In the Spring and Summer term of Reception, pupils begin to access the workbooks from the Penpals scheme, whilst maintaining the mnemonics and ditties from our Phonics teaching.
At Neville’s Cross Primary School, we teach handwriting three times per week week from Year 1 to Year 6. Class teachers follow the Penpals scheme, using the ELS mnemonics to support formation as needed. As children progress through school, there is an increasing focus on fluency, consistency and speed. In years 1 – 3 every child starts with a pencil each September until they can demonstrate good handwriting skills. Pen licenses are only issued when the Headteacher has seen consistently good handwriting in line with year group expectations maintained for at least two weeks. All children in Years 4, 5 and 6 work in pen.
To view our Handwriting Long Term plan, please see below:
Parents can also view information about the Penpals scheme in the following document.
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
As well as practising letter formation, it is important for children’s handwriting that they develop their gross motor and fine motor skills.
Gross Motor Activities
Gross motor activities improve postural control and muscle strength and are beneficial when developing handwriting skills.
Activities you can try at home:
- Hanging activities – do the monkey bars or do chins ups
- Climbing activities – climb ladders and ropes
- Pushing and pulling activities – pull heavy trolleys/ bags, push a child on a swing or play tug of war.
- Animal activities- do the crab (get into a table position and try to walk sideways like a crab) or the snake (lie on your tummy and pull yourself along with your hands).
- Arm activities- have a wheelbarrow race, do wall push-ups or go for a crawl
- Yoga activities
Please view the attached posture-poster to support your child in using the correct posture for writing.
Fine Motor Activities
Fine motor activities are crucial to developing handwriting skills.
Please view the attached document for some ideas you can try at home: