English at Diamond Wood
At Diamond Wood Community Academy, we will develop and deepen children’s love of reading, writing and discussion through a broad range of meaningful experiences and exposure to rich language and vocabulary.
We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and use discussion to communicate and further their learning. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. Click here to read our full vision and intent statement for English.
English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
Golden Threads: Substantive and Disciplinary Concepts
In designing our English Curriculum we have thought carefully about the Substantive and Disciplinary concepts that provide us with a 'golden thread' to all learning opportunities and experiences. By highlighting these concepts within the English curriculum, we aim to create a rich and engaging learning environment that fosters a love for language, literature, and communication. To enable us to judiciously select the key concepts that we have, we sought advice and guidance from the National Curriculum and recognised subject associations such as the English Hub and Voice 21.
Click on the links below to find out more about each of these concepts.
Writing Curriculum: Substantive and Disciplinary Concepts
Reading Curriculum: Substantive and Disciplinary Concepts
Oracy Curriculum: Substantive and Disciplinary Concepts
Curriculum Position and Approaches
At Diamond Wood Community Academy, we have reviewed and adapted our English Curriculum over the recent years. We are still on a journey with this to ensure that all changes made are effective and have the highest possible impact on our pupils. To support us with our curriculum developments, we continue to work with Literacy specialists and ensure everything we choose to do is supported by the most recent research and evidence base. Please click here to read our subject policy for English.
The Write Stuff and Hooked on Books
In the Summer of 2020 EYFS and KS1 teachers attended Jane Considine’s ‘The Write Stuff’ and ‘Hooked on Booked’ training sessions. These focussed on the teaching of writing and reading in school with a big focus on Oracy being at the centre of all English teaching.
Jane Considine is an English consultant who has worked for the DFE and has specialised in teaching English for over 20 years. Her work is based on the most recent evidence and research.
Her approach gained the interest of our school due to the focus on language development through exposing children to vocabulary and experiences. This is exactly what our school vision and intent is underpinned by. Over 80% of our pupils speak English as an additional language (EAL) and in order to develop their writing and reading skills, we must first focus on their communication and language skills.
The approach is appropriate and progressive for all children from Nursery to Year 2 and beyond. After attending the training all teachers met with the English lead to provide feedback and discuss how we might apply the approach to teaching at Diamond Wood Community Academy. All teachers agreed that this was something we felt could have a positive impact on teaching and learning and that we began trailing elements of this.
We have now adapted the ‘Write Stuff’ approach to teaching writing and continue to use aspects of this in our English curriculum. This is already having a positive impact. After a year of trialling a ‘Write Stuff’ approach, using the whole Writing Rainbow, English Leads gathered feedback from colleagues across the whole school. This, alongside current research of children’s acquisition of Language and Oracy skills led us to slim down our selection of lenses from the Writing Rainbow. The lenses selected ensure children develop age-appropriate ambitious vocabulary and are able to use these in context in their independent writing. Aspects of the ‘Hooked on Books’ approach to teaching reading have also been introduced such as ‘Book Talk’ English lessons and the ‘Responsible Readers’ initiative. After using these elements of the ‘Hooked on Books’ approach for a year, this again was reviewed with colleagues. After discussions with the Reading Lead, a new Comprehension and Story Time progression map was developed. We have adapted it to ensure it meets the needs of our school specifically and of all our learners as individuals.
Read, Write Inc (RWI)
In September 2021 we made the move from teaching phonics using Letters and Sounds to Read, Write Inc. The main reason for this was that as a school we identified the need to improve our phonics outcomes for pupils based on previous years. Our Senior Leadership Team researched various phonics schemes, held consultations with staff, and spoke to many education and phonics specialists before deciding upon Read, Write Inc.
In April 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) published the revised core criteria for effective systematic synthetic phonics teaching programmes and launched a new process to validate complete systematic synthetic phonics teaching programmes. Read, Write Inc was recognised as a validated scheme for schools to use. This revalidation of the scheme confirmed our choice of moving from Letters and Sounds to Read, Write Inc.
A main factor for the decision to choose RWI over other schemes was that the founder of the approach, Ruth Miskin, originally created it for pupils who speak English as an additional language. As previously stated, around 80% of our pupils are EAL learners and we felt this was an especially important consideration. Another factor was that we are a large school and the support of our Teaching Assistants in delivering phonics lessons is crucial. RWI is designed to ensure consistency and fidelity to the approach. The lessons are similar across school in terms of the teaching strategies used daily and provide a routine in which would support non-phonics specialists to teach pupils. The scheme also provides all of the resources needed to ensure pupils’ book reading practice accurately matches their phonics abilities. Continuous opportunities for further training and support are available and we have been assigned a RWI consultant who regularly comes into school and works with us on improving practice alongside ensuring and measuring impact for pupils.
We are already seeing a positive impact of this approach on our learners in all year groups. Last year (2022-2023) we achieved our highest phonics screening results to date (82%).
This year (2023-2024) we are going to be introducing RWI Spelling and RWI Comprehension to our approach to teaching English. This has been decided after careful consideration and trial training to ensure it best meets the needs of our pupils.
To visit our specific Early Reading page click here.
During the school closures caused by the Covid19 pandemic our English leaders used the opportunity to engage in additional professional development opportunities. One of the main focuses was supporting the teaching of Oracy across the school. Our most recent OFSTED report had highlighted a need to improve this, and although as a school we felt we had already come a long way, we are always striving for success and want to improve further.
As previously stated, the majority of pupils that attend our school are EAL learners. Typically, this means that pupils start school working well below age-related expectations within Speaking and Listening. Pupils begin their schooling with a much more limited vocabulary than typical for their age. Research shows that limited vocabulary and Oracy skills have a negative impact on educational progress and attainment. However, the benefits of developing strong Oracy skills go far beyond academic achievement. They boost a whole range of social, emotional and interpersonal skills, including self-confidence, self-awareness, resilience, and empathy.
Therefore, as a whole school community, we wanted to ensure Oracy development was a key priority for us and searched for specialist and evidence-based support with this. As a team, we decided upon joining the nation’s leading Oracy charity, Voice 21. Voice 21 works in partnership with teachers and schools across the UK to ensure every child receives a high-quality Oracy education. We share their vision to transform the learning and life chances of young people through talk so that all children can use their voice for success in school and in life.
In January 2022 we began our journey to reviewing and redeveloping our Oracy Curriculum across the whole of school alongside the support of Voice21 and our designated consultants. Three of our teachers attended regular training and became Oracy Champions within school. The selected teachers were Mrs Lyons who is our Oracy lead in school, alongside Mrs Idle and Mr Saiyed. Our Oracy Champions worked closely with all members of school staff to share the theory, knowledge and effective strategies shared by the Voice21 team, to improve Oracy outcomes for all our pupils.
During this academic year, we aim to take forward all of the support and guidance provided by Voice 21 and embed the work we have done during the previous two years. Mrs Lyons will continue to lead upon Oracy in school with the support of the wider English team. An action plan has been created and outlines specific focuses for the year ahead such as continued training for all staff in school. We are also pleased to announce that Mrs Roberts who teaches in Reception has now become an Oracy Champion too! This means that there is a dedicated Oracy Champion within all year groups in school.
Click here to view our specific 'The Teaching of Oracy' overview.
Click here to view our specific 'Oracy Progression Map'.
Click here to view our specific 'Talk Frames Progression Map'.
Our English Long Term Plan
Click here to download and view our Long Term Plan.
Click here to download and view our rationale for chosen texts.
Click here to view our specific 'Writing Progression Map'.
Click here to download and view our specific 'The Teaching of Poetry' document.
Units of Work: Structure and Approach Progression
Grammar and Spelling
We have created clear and well-structured progression maps for grammar and spelling to provide teachers with a clear learning pathway. They enable a systematic approach to deliver the knowledge, understanding, and skills required by the 2014 National Curriculum in England. Having progression maps ensures consistency and continuity in the teaching and learning of grammar and spelling across EYFS, Year 1, and Year 2. By clearly outlining the expected knowledge and skills at each stage, teachers can build upon prior learning and ensure a smooth transition from one year group to the next. This promotes a seamless educational experience for pupils, preventing any disjointed learning experiences.
Click here to view our EYFS Grammar and Spelling progression map.
Click here to view our Key Stage 1 Grammar and Spelling progression map.
Click here to view our Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation glossary.
Read Write Inc Spelling
Read Write Inc. Spelling is a 15-minutes-a-day programme followed by our Year 2 pupils. Read Write Inc. Spelling is a spelling programme based on proven strategies of teacher modelling followed by partner work, to embed learning. The programme covers all the National Curriculum word structures and spelling requirements. It is built around a series of short, progressive activities and uses partner work to help children learn effectively and recall what they have learnt.
Spelling rules are introduced by characters from an 'online spelling planet'. Children spell new words and have plenty of practice spelling them, including exception words and homophones. Read Write Inc. Spelling builds on from the grapheme- phoneme correspondence from Read Write Inc Phonics.
The sequence of activities are the same in each unit. These are based on a continuous cycle of: learn something new, practice, consolidate in context and then review. Each unit of work generally lasts one week. The children use a spelling book which has a range of teacher-led activities, paired work and independent activities. Alongside this we have a Spelling Log where children can record the words they find difficult to spell and they can circle the part that they find tricky.
Click here to read more information about each of these activities.
Editing Written Work
At Diamond Wood Community Academy, we believe that teaching children to edit their own written work is a crucial aspect of their development in English. Our aim is to ensure that all children develop the necessary skills to become confident and independent writers. Teaching children to edit their own written work allows them to take ownership of their learning and empowers them to improve their writing skills. It encourages self-reflection, promotes critical thinking, and fosters a growth mindset where pupils understand that their work can always be improved.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, we recognise that children are in the early stages of developing their writing skills. However, we still believe it is important to introduce them to the concept of editing. Here are some strategies we use in EYFS:
- Modelling: Teachers demonstrate the process of editing using simple examples, emphasising the importance of revising and improving their work.
- Visual Cues: Display charts and posters that provide visual reminders of editing strategies, such as checking for capital letters, finger spaces, and full stops.
- Shared Editing: Teachers collaboratively edit children's work during focused group activities, involving each child in the editing process.
These strategies aim to foster a positive attitude towards editing and develop an awareness of its importance from an early age.
In Key Stage 1, the focus is on building upon the introduction to editing in EYFS and further developing students' editing skills. Here are some strategies we use in KS1:
- Editing Checklist: Provide pupils with a checklist of common errors to look out for, including spelling, punctuation, grammar, and clarity of ideas.
- Guided Editing: Teachers work in small groups with pupils, guiding them through the editing process and providing targeted feedback and support.
- Peer Feedback: Promote peer collaboration by encouraging pupils to exchange their written work and provide constructive feedback to their peers.
These strategies aim to develop pupils' autonomy in editing their work and promote a sense of responsibility for continuous improvement.
At Diamond Wood Community Academy, we use the Read, Write Inc (RWI) guidance to support the teaching of handwriting across school. In addition to initially teaching handwriting during our daily RWI sessions in Nursery and Reception, we implement additional frequent handwriting sessions to ensure that pupils are provided with enough time to practice and build upon their handwriting skills.
Following the RWI guidance, we identify the three handwriting stages as;
For more information about each of these stages please click here.
Click here to download the handwriting sayings we use to support pupils with their formation.
Fine Motor Skills and Pre Writing Shapes
At Diamond Wood Community Academy we understand the importance of providing a comprehensive and well-planned approach to developing children's fine motor skills. This includes enabling children to acquire pre-writing skills, such as the ability to form simple shapes, before they begin formal handwriting. We recognise that the development of fine motor skills is crucial for children's overall physical and cognitive development, as well as their future success in writing.
Fine motor skills refer to the ability to use small muscles in a coordinated and controlled manner, particularly those in the hands and fingers. These skills are fundamental for activities such as holding a pencil, using scissors, and writing.
Teaching pre-writing shapes, such as circles, squares, and lines, before formal handwriting allows children to develop their understanding of basic shape formation, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination. By focusing on these fundamental shapes, children can develop the necessary skills and confidence for later writing tasks.
To ensure the development of fine motor skills and pre-writing shapes, the following strategies can be incorporated into children's daily routines at home as well as at school:
- Provide a range of activities that target fine motor control, including threading beads, pegging, cutting, and buttoning.
- Include play-based activities that involve manipulating small objects, such as building blocks, puzzles, and Lego.
- Encourage activities that promote finger strength and dexterity, such as playdough modelling, finger painting, and using tweezers.
At Diamond Wood Community Academy, the following strategies are employed to teach and assess pre-writing shapes in a progressive manner:
- Begin with simple shapes, such as circles, squares, and lines, and gradually introduce more complex shapes.
- Use a variety of materials, such as sand, paint, or chalk, for children to practice forming shapes.
- Provide visual aids, such as posters and charts, to reinforce the correct formation of shapes.
- Model and verbally describe the process of forming each shape, ensuring children understand the correct movements.
- Regularly assess children's progress by observing their ability to independently form shapes and provide constructive feedback.
Development of SMSC within our English Curriculum
- Spiritual Development: We promote spiritual development by providing opportunities for reflection, exploring beliefs, and discussing values and morals through engaging literary texts. Teachers encourage children to express their feelings and ideas, fostering a sense of awe, wonder, and curiosity about the world.
- Moral Development: Our English curriculum encourages moral development by introducing stories and texts that raise moral dilemmas, ethical questions, and promote empathy and kindness. Children are encouraged to explore right and wrong, discuss ethical issues, and develop a sense of fairness and justice.
- Social Development: Through collaborative activities such as pair and group work, drama, and role-play, we foster social development. Children are encouraged to work co-operatively, listen to others, take turns, and develop effective communication skills. We celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity.
- Cultural Development: Our English curriculum integrates a wide range of diverse texts that represent different cultures, beliefs, and traditions. Through exploring these texts, children gain knowledge and understanding of different cultures, challenging stereotypes, and promoting respectful appreciation of cultural diversity.
Development of Protected Characteristics within our English Curriculum
Our English curriculum celebrates diversity and promotes the understanding and respect of protected characteristics such as age, disability, gender, race and religion. We ensure that our book selection represents a diverse range of characters and authors from different backgrounds. Teachers actively engage children in discussions, encouraging them to explore stereotypes and prejudice in an age-appropriate way. We provide regular training for staff on equality and diversity, which is reflected in the planning and delivery of the English curriculum.
Development of British Values within our English Curriculum
Our English curriculum provides opportunities for children to explore and discuss British values through texts that explore themes of democracy, justice, freedom, and respect. We encourage children to express their opinions, listen to others, and consider different perspectives. Through drama, debates, and persuasive writing activities, we help children understand the importance of the rule of law and individual liberty. We promote mutual respect and tolerance by celebrating different cultures, religions, and beliefs through literature and class discussions.
Take a look at some of our wonderful teaching and learning opportunities...
Ideas for helping at home...
Encourage children to write for different purposes, such as letters, stories, or diary entries. Provide appropriate writing materials and support children in developing their handwriting skills.
Technology and online resources:
Guide children in using age-appropriate online resources, such as educational websites or apps, to enhance their English skills.
Supporting spelling and grammar:
Help children learn and apply spelling rules and grammatical concepts through activities and games.
Providing a language-rich environment:
Engage in conversations with children, using varied vocabulary and sentence structures. Encourage them to ask questions and explore their ideas.
Maintaining open communication:
Parents and carers should communicate with their child's teacher to discuss progress, ask for advice, and share concerns regarding their child's English development.
You are more than welcome to contact school to find out anymore information if needed.
Our subject leaders for English in school are: