At Green Meadow School we believe that 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.
We aim to provide pupils with a love and appreciation of our language both in a written and spoken context. Through studying English in as wide a range of forms as possible, pupils gain an understanding of how language can be manipulated to achieve a desired outcome. Spelling and grammar skills are taught proactively throughout the school year.
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
Green Meadow teachers understand that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
At Green Meadow the teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.
Children are taught that skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics are emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) when they start kindergarten and school.
Children are educated that good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills are developed through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussions with the teachers, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
At Green Meadow School teachers develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
Children are taught that writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
At Green Meadow School we find that opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, teachers show pupils how to understand the relationships between words and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. They also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning. Pupils are taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English. They are taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar and punctuation.