We are Writers
The overarching aim for English in the 2014 national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
Philosophy of English
At Olympus, our English curriculum is driven by a range of high-quality texts which seek to challenge and lead to the development of the personal and cultural capital of the children attending our schools. The texts provide a stimulus for reading, writing and oracy and aim to deliver an opportunity for all to be immersed in a rich vocabulary; one that will support their own development and nurture a genuine love of language and the written word. We believe that all of our children are authors and that the link between reading and writing are heavily entwined. Children are encouraged to question author choices and explore the context in which a text is written, making links with the world around them. Our aim is that English learning is contextualised in children’s experiences and therefore is carefully planned with explicit links to children’s wider learning. We enrich English learning with visits from authors, trips and experiences that will provide a real purpose for reading and writing.
Bottom up planning
At Olympus English is taught through a sequential journey that encourages children to read like a writer and write like a reader. The children use a high quality text each term as the basis of their learning. The text is then supplemented with other genre specific texts dependent upon the expected writing outcome, whether it be to entertain, to inform, to persuade or to discuss.
We plan a unit of work over a period of 2-3 weeks, ensuring that we have a balance of skills and application being taught throughout. Well-planned learning intentions based on formative assessment are mapped out over a complete sequence, enabling learners to move through the gears from novice to expert. We plan a sequence backwards, beginning with the end of unit outcome and focusing on the skills that need to be developed in order for children to meet the required expectation; this is known to teaching staff as ‘bottom-up planning.’
At Olympus, we break down a unit into three stages and use planning circles to support us in the organisation of these. Each stage allows children to develop their skills and be fully immersed in the text through using talk for writing skills such as book and writer talk; encouraging discussion about authors’ choices and context and making links.
Writing Expectations at Olympus schools
- Children will produce one non- fiction and one fiction end of unit extended piece of writing termly.
- Further writing opportunities must be given in each stage to allow the application of specific skills to be developed.
- Grammar skills will be taught in context
- Children should be exposed to a rich diet of genre-specific supplementary texts within each unit and have the opportunity to explore authorial choices, make comparisons and deepen their own vocabulary.
- Learning intentions will link and model the learning journey clearly for the children and will separate the skill from the ‘genre vehicle’ being used.
- There will be opportunities for shared writing and modelled writing in each phase.
- Texts will be taught contextually.
- Within each phase, oracy will be developed through book and writer talk, meta language (structure, grammar, revising and editing) the teaching of specific vocabulary and collaborative learning (discussion and presentation)
- Children take pride in their presentation using a cursive script for handwriting, valuing the editing and revising process as part of the writing.