English Curriculum Statement
At the Mount Stewart Schools, we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. We aim to provide an interesting and engaging English curriculum that is underpinned by the belief that developing children’s language is crucial to their success across the curriculum and for life-long learning. At Mount Stewart, we want children to enjoy and appreciate literature for all its rich variety.
At Mount Stewart, we teach English so that: children write in a range of genres with an awareness of their audience. Mount Stewart children will learn to:
We strive to achieve this by providing a range of pictures, story and non-fiction books, and the Talk for Writing approach. Aspects of Talk for Writing is used and adapted across the school as a vehicle for teaching creative writing. The enjoyment of writing is fostered through the use of drama, story and the use of ICT.
We aim to deliver an inspiring and engaging English curriculum through high-quality teaching and exciting lessons. Writing is a crucial part of our curriculum. All children from Foundation Stage to Year 6 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across all curriculum areas.
At Mount Stewart, we aim to create a positive reading and writing culture in school, where both are promoted, enjoyed and considered 'a pleasure' for all children.
The implementation of 'Talk for Writing' ensures a consistent and systematic approach to teaching writing skills across all cohorts. This also means that children know what to expect when they change classes.
We follow the Read Write Inc approach to teaching Reading and Phonics, supplemented with additional Bug Club online reading materials. Our systematic, consistent, and rigorous approach to making all children become readers as quickly as possible. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Our bespoke Enlivening Reading lessons aims to expose pupils to a range of texts, including ones that they can identify with that are culturally diverse. Children are introduced to texts through the exploration of targeted vocabulary. Through further text exploration, we focus on the key reading strategies: inferring, predicting, summarising, evaluating, making links/connections and questioning, which support comprehension skills.
At Mount Stewart, we are overhauling the entire stock of children's phonics reading books, investing in a new Reading Write Inc reading resources. We are also investing in culturally diverse texts that reflect our diverse community to boost children's comprehension further. Our revamp of the Mount Stewart Libraries goes from strength to strength, with children looking forward to reading fiction and non-fiction texts and using our library areas to provide a haven for all children to think, create, share, and grow.
At Mount Stewart, we identify children who need support and provide intervention most effectively and efficiently as we can. Most children on the SEND register have reading and comprehension as one of their targets. Teachers plan and teach English lessons that are adapted to the particular needs of each child. We help each child maximise their potential by providing help and support where necessary whilst striving to make children independent workers once we have helped to equip them with the confidence, tools, and strategies they need.
Early writing is taught through early mark-making; then when the children begin phonics, they are taught the correct letter formations. This begins with writing (physical movements or early mark making) CVC words, moving onto short sentences using the sounds they have been taught. EYFS children are encouraged to write independently during continuous provision. We use the same phonics program across the school, providing continuity and a vehicle for guaranteed progression. Phonics sessions take place daily for 30 minutes. Children are taught in ability groups from Reception to Year 2, thus being taught according to their reading level, not their age. Teaching is very precise and tailored to the needs of each child, irrespective of the year group.
Writing is assessed consistently throughout the year through hot and cold tasks to begin and end each writing unit. Teachers use this to assess the areas that their children will need to be specifically taught, even if this means tracking back to previous years objectives in grammar and text type. The class teacher or teaching assistant will carry out interventions on specific areas of weakness. Termly, teachers, assess writing using moderation materials. It is expected that teachers will moderate across year groups and partner schools for data checkpoints throughout the year.
To support teaching new and adventurous vocabulary, all year groups have access to and make full use of the books on The School Reading Lists. This ensures that all children are regularly read to in class, and high-quality texts are used for the whole class and guided reading.
There is an expectation that grammar will be modelled and used correctly by all teachers. To ensure progression in grammar skills, all teachers use a progression of grammar document, on which they highlight the grammar skills that have been taught. Any areas of weakness identified due to independent writing or the hot or cold tasks are taught as part of the next modelled text, in focused SPaG sessions or grammar starters.
Around the school, there are displays of writing around the school to encourage pride in work, give a purpose and audience, and show that work is valued. The Pen Licence award encourages children to ensure they use the school handwriting scheme in their writing and helps ensure they maintain the same standard of writing across all subjects.
At Mount Stewart, we follow the spelling scheme 'JMB Education Spelling'. Each week, the children take home a spelling sheet and work on the spelling in preparation for a weekly spelling test. The children learn spelling by understanding meaning, word definition and the etymology of the word. Ensuring children understand the original meaning of a word, how it's been used in both the past and present increases their comprehension.
We run parent information workshops, reading, writing and spelling. In addition to these, we deliver phonics for Year 1 parents, reading and SATs for Year 2 parents and a SATs meeting for Year 6 parents to understand age-related expectations. These workshops are always very well attended by parents and carers who often comment about how helpful the sessions have been for them
At Mount Stewart, it is clear that children enjoy reading regularly for information and enjoyment. Children discuss books with excitement and interest. They enjoy writing and use the features of different genres and styles, and children can confidently write for different purposes and audiences.
Half-termly, teachers' moderate children work in school and in cluster meetings with other schools to ensure accurate assessments are made. Writing in English and curriculum books are evaluated by learning walks, drop-ins, pupil conferencing, and work scrutinies, forming an accurate pupil profile. These inform future areas for improvement and the impact of new initiatives. The English champion team provides an action plan for the subject and addresses areas for development and improvement, which is then shared with all staff.
All aspects of English are an integral part of the Mount Stewart curriculum. Cross-curricular writing standards have also improved, and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.
We hope that as children move on from Mount Stewart to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do