English at Madresfield
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it. Across oracy, reading and writing, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Madresfield in Year 6, the vocabulary they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts. We have an ambitious, fulfilling and rewarding English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading and writing. Our English curriculum is taught using CUSP (Curriculum by Unity Schools Partnership) resources and further information about the curriculum can be accessed at https://www.unity-curriculum.co.uk/cusp/
A Madresfield we use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Madresfield, we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
CUSP Reading is deliberately designed to be ambitious and aspirational, ensuring that every child leaves our school as a competent, confident reader. Drawing on the latest research around explicit vocabulary instruction, reading fluency and key comprehension strategies, this curriculum is a synthesis of what we know works in helping children make outstanding progress in reading and a distillation into consistent, well-structured practice.
Pupils will receive a daily diet of excellent reading teaching and this will be supplemented by regular opportunities to engage with shared reading experiences, promoting the joy of reading with the whole school community. The clear structure and principles ensure that teaching is progressive, challenging and engaging and the rich, diverse literature spine acts as both a mirror so that every child can see themselves in the core texts and as a mirror to engage pupils with experiences beyond their own field of reference.
From Year 1 to Year 6 each learning sequence follows the same structure:
- Explicit vocabulary instruction
- Deliberate fluency instruction and prosody training
- Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies
- Clear focus on what pupils should know, be able to do and remember.
Each lesson follows the same structure:
Supporting Your Child at Home with Reading
At Madresfield, we firmly believe that reading is a vital life skill that is the gateway to life-long learning. It is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social and economic background. Your child will experience the greatest success in reading if school and home work together in partnership.
In EYFS and KS1, children will be heard regularly at school. They will be provided with a book that closely matches their phonics knowledge, so that they can apply what they have learnt in school to become confident, fluent readers.
In Years 2-6, once pupils are ready, they will take home a book of their choice, closely matched to their reading ability.
In order to support your child at home, please:
- Aim to read with your child on a daily basis for 10-20 mins: this should be a combination of you reading aloud with your child, and listening to them read their allocated reading book;
- Talk about the book with your child - use the bookmark provided by your child’s class teacher to support your conversations;
- Discuss new and exciting vocabulary with your child whenever possible at home (watching the television, reading, whilst out and about) to widen their vocabulary;
- Sign your child’s planner to show the teacher that they have read.
CUSP writing is a “reduce and revisit” model of writing where pupils draw on prior learning to focus on the “how” of writing. They draw upon taught content from other subjects such as Science, Geography, History as well as the core literature studied in-depth through the reading curriculum, where appropriate. This is highly intentional to maximise purposeful curriculum connections and to allow for deeper learning: pupils are able to build on prior learning, make links with other subject areas to enhance and deepen their understanding and build conceptual fluency.
Each writing unit is expertly designed to allow for the explicit teaching, modelling and rehearsing of core knowledge and skills prior to pupils then applying these through extended writing. This includes the direct, explicit teaching of Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS) in every writing lesson.