Our vision at the Isle of Ely is for children to develop a love of English and an enjoyment for literature, whilst recognising the significance of English in being the key to opening new opportunities. Alongside this, we hope to equip children with the essential skills they will need for the rest of their educational journey and future careers. By the time they leave our school, children are able to express themselves clearly orally and in writing, take part in discussions, read fluently and have a broad and varied vocabulary. We ensure that all children are supported and encouraged to have high aspirations for their futures.
Speaking and listening
At Isle of Ely, we want children to feel confident in expressing their thoughts across a variety of situations. Our aim is for children to be able to understand their emotions and feel comfortable in communicating these, as well as any worries to adults. Furthermore, we would like to see children sharing their ideas with peers and staff throughout the school, as well as being able to ask questions, take part in discussions and be able to construct arguments.
We believe that speaking plays an important role in developing children’s thought processes and therefore ensure that we provide plenty of opportunities for children to build and strengthen their oracy skills. Lessons include time for group and whole class discussions to support children with forming their ideas and in increasing their confidence with speaking in front of others. Staff model expectations for how discussions should take place and always encourage children to ask questions. Children are taught how to use and manipulate language for a variety of purposes such as informing, explaining and persuading, and are given opportunities to put these into practise. Across our curriculum, we also embed plenty of drama in order for children to explore and develop their ideas through communicating with peers.
Where needed, intervention packs are used within small groups to explicitly teach children how to use speaking and listening within the classroom and to develop their confidence with this.
Outside of school, we encourage parents to continue to model good speaking and listening practise including giving children opportunities to discuss their ideas, ask questions and pose arguments. Encouraging children to discuss and reflect on their day also allows them to develop their thoughts.
As a result of all of this, our children feel comfortable using their speaking and listening skills across a variety of contexts and situations that they may encounter throughout their education and working lives. Our children leave school feeling confident to talk to teachers, children and other people they may encounter in the wider community, whilst feeling secure and comfortable in expressing themselves.
We seek to instil a love of reading in our children where they are passionate about literature, whilst simultaneously creating fluent and confident readers who can comprehend what they have read.
Our adults lead by example through daily story times across the school where they share their passion for books and spark an interest in the children. Regular visits to our library ensure that children have access to a vast variety of literature across a range of genres and authors, as well as non-fiction and poetry books. Dedicated time for reading in school ensures that all children acknowledge the importance of reading and have exposure to high quality literature. In class, we also have regular book discussions for children to share their enthusiasm for what they are reading and to make recommendations. By having a strong reading culture embedded in our school, new experiences are opened to our children, as well as supporting them in developing a better understanding of other cultures.
Through our ambitious curriculum, we ensure that all children are able to read fluently and comprehend what they have read by the time they finish Year 6. Starting from Early Years and in Key Stage One, children are taught all of the sounds and their matching graphemes, as well as learning how to blend these in order for them to be able to decode words on a page. We follow the systematic approach of Read Write Inc to plan and sequence lessons where children work in small groups to build upon their phonic knowledge and read fully decodable books tailored to their level. This ensures that children develop an enjoyment for reading as they are able to decode every word in these books. Read Write Inc lessons are structured so that children are first taught to recognise the sounds and blend these to read each word and then build on this to increase their reading speed, as well as reading with expression. It is our aim for children to have completed their phonics journey by the end of Key Stage One. However, interventions are put in place for children who continue to need this support in Key Stage Two. Right from the start of Read Write Inc, children are encouraged to respond to the stories they have read and teachers explicitly model how to deduce and infer information from the pictures and the text. This ensures that our children have had plenty of comprehension practise by the end of Key Stage One and are well prepared for the rest of their educational journey.
In Key Stage Two, whole class guided reading sessions expose children to high quality literature in order to challenge them and increase the range of genres they have read. Key reading skills such as retrieval, scanning and inference are explicitly taught in these sessions and children are given time to practise and embed these skills. Through providing children with more challenging literature, we hope to support the development of a wide vocabulary that children can use as well as developing their understanding of word choices that authors make.
At home, we hope that parents will continue to promote a love of reading and enjoy sharing books with their children. Asking children questions about books they have read enables them to delve further into the book and builds their comprehension skills.
Consequently, our children leave us being able to read fluently and confidently, and are equipped with the necessary reading skills they need for the rest of their education and future careers.
At our school, we strive for all children to be able to coherently express their ideas in writing and be confident in writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. Writing is an essential skill that they will need throughout their lives therefore we hope to prepare them for this.
Our curriculum and high expectations ensure that our children develop a strong level of written English. From the start, we promote a passion for writing and create a comfortable, sharing environment across our school community where children take pride in their work. Our whole school Talk4writing approach encourages children to orally tell stories: ones they have read or listened to, as well as their own adaptations of these or even their own stories entirely. This leads to our children having a true enjoyment of stories and becoming great storytellers full of ideas that they can then put into their writing. We create exciting opportunities for the children and give them real-life experiences to write about.
Within our English lessons, we spend a good period of time immersed in a model text so children develop a strong understanding of the text type they are studying and learn the necessary skills to be able to write their own version. We believe that children need exposure to high quality texts for them to be able to write effectively themselves and therefore always read a longer text alongside our model. Through reading and internalising these models, children gain a strong knowledge of how to structure their writing and become confident in exploring creating effects. Within each year group, children study a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, ensuring coverage of the different types and building a progression of writing skills. They are taught how to write for these different purposes and audiences, and are encouraged to experiment with their language choices. This consistent approach across the school leads to children becoming confident writers as most text types are familiar to them by the time they reach the end of Key Stage Two. Furthermore, cross-curricular writing provides children with the opportunity to write for a range of topics and purposes, as well as engaging them in a range of interesting topics and being able to write from real experiences. They have the chance to experiment with, and embed new vocabulary whilst developing an in depth knowledge of writing. Explicit lessons are taught for grammar, punctuation and spelling ensuring that our children gain a strong understanding of these and become confident applying these in their writing.
Right from the start of their time with us, children are taught to join their handwriting using cursive. Across the school, Letterjoin is used to systematically teach and practise handwriting: starting with pre-cursive in the Early Years and progressing onto learning each type of join. This consistent approach ensures that children are confident with joining their handwriting and supports them with sustained pieces of writing.
Subsequently, our children develop a high level of English, including a wide range of vocabulary for them to be able to articulate their ideas with. By the end of Year 6, they have a broad understanding of how to write for a range of text types and are confident in writing for a variety of purposes an audiences.