At Upton we believe that reading should truly be at the heart of the English curriculum. Through reading, pupils learn how to write and apply spelling, punctuation and grammar conventions. Reading is a pillar of our civilization, present in every facet of society, and pupils who read well will ultimately have greater access to our textually rich world. Generating a long-lasting love of books and affinity with quality texts is key to an inclusive and inspiring English Curriculum. With this in mind, we have adopted a ‘Text-Based Curriculum’, where all aspects of English teaching and learning revolve around a chosen text.
Each year group has carefully chosen quality core texts (including fiction and non-fiction) which act as the stimulus to teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions. Having engaging and challenging core texts allows pupils to develop a love literature and read for enjoyment. Ensuring all pupils develop all the skills of language is essential not only in order to access the rest of the curriculum but also to participate fully within society as educated citizens.
Within our Text-Based Curriculum (TBC) lessons are designed to promote key English skills as outlined in the National Curriculum. This cycle is repeated throughout the year, ensuring a rigorous and robust curriculum that enables new learning as well as the opportunity to embed key skills through use and repetition.
English Intent at Upton
The intention of the English curriculum we offer at Upton Junior School is to give children the skills they need to become lifelong learners; communicate with the world around them and allow them to experience wider opportunities. We intend to develop the skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, including all essential skills which will allow all children to organise and express their own thoughts and access the knowledge and ideas of others.
Throughout all teaching of English there will be a focus on understanding language and using communication both orally and in written form to plan, develop and express themselves. We are intent on teaching children that these aspects of language are inextricably linked and that writing is a representation of speech and that they both come in a variety of forms linked to purpose. It is our intent that all children leave Upton as confident speakers, readers, and writers.
At Upton Junior School, we believe that every child will have the tools to:
Confidently read a wide variety of texts.
Transfer skills from spelling into writing.
Make improvements to their writing.
Make links between reading and writing.
Learn in a literacy rich environment.
Accelerated Reader (AR)
Accelerated Reader is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Once your child has picked their book and finished reading it, they will take a short quiz on a computer at school or at home. Passing the quiz is an indication that a child has understood what was read. Accelerated Reader gives children and teachers’ feedback based on the quiz results, which allows teachers to tailor their Guided Reading lessons.
AR is designed to improve a child’s reading comprehension and promote reading for pleasure. The children have been introduced to AR in school through a whole school assembly and their teachers have been showing them how to select a book and how to take a quiz on the book they have completed.
The process is as followed:
Children take a Star Reader Assessment on a computer at school. This determines each individual child’s ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development). The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) defines the readability range within which pupils should read to best develop their reading, while avoiding frustration.
Children will take a Star Reader Assessment at the beginning of every term so teachers can adjust their ZPDs in their reading records and children can choose new books from their new ZPD.
The children’s ZPD will be written in their reading records. If a child has a reading ZPD for example of 3.4 – 5.6, it means they can read any book labelled between this. The lower the number the more comfortable it will be for the child to read; the higher the number the more challenging the books become for that child within that ZPD.
The children will then select a reading book from the book corner in their classroom. However, they can also read any book from around the school from within their ZPD.
Children then take that book home to read. Reading records should be filled in and returned to school every day. A child will bring their reading record in, in the morning and get it signed by their class teacher. In each classroom there is a ‘Have you read?’ chart. When a teacher signs the reading record, the child puts a dot next to their name. This allows the class teacher to monitor who is reading. If a child reads 200 times or more over the course of the year, they will earn a place in the 200 club; this means their picture will be taken and put in the paper to celebrate this milestone. There are also many other rewards for the children to earn.
Once the children have read a whole book, they will take a quiz at school. They need to do this within 48 hours, however doing it in 24 hours is better. The quiz is not a memory test so the children must have their book with them as they take the quiz so they can refer back to it as often as they would like.
The quiz takes no longer than 10 minutes and we are happy for children to do this when they come into school. They can also take their quiz at lunchtime in the computer room where our Digital Leaders will be on standby to help.
The results from the quizzes and other assessments that we will complete in school give us a great deal of information that we can use to inform our teaching and learning.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) and Vocabulary
Using the text as an exemplar, these areas are taught both explicitly and through writing to ensure that pupils have a conscious control and clarity over their writing. Pupils are then encouraged to use these skills within the weekly writing opportunity.
The teaching of vocabulary, in particular, is essential to the development of both written and oratory skills. Key words are selected from the text studied and pupils are shown how they are used in context, progressing to using them within their own writing. From this increasing vocabulary, figurative language can be crafted to create the all important image in the mind of a reader.
Weekly spellings are set as part of homework, and children are tested on these the following week. These spellings are linked to a particular spelling focus and reinforced through lessons.
Please click at the bottom of the page to see the progression of SPAG concepts across the school.
Author of the Term
Each term the children learn specifically about a particular author in our assemblies. Optional Home Learning Projects linked to this author then take place across the school. Authors are selected and linked to diversity and allow the children to learn about different places and cultures. This year the children will be focusing on the following authors:
Before we learn to read, we speak. The spoken word underpins our literacy development and, within the two-week cycle, speaking and listening retains a focus through ‘Reading for Performance’ and ‘Reading for Fluency’ sessions. Pupils experiment with differing oratory techniques and perform their own work in front of their peers, who offer positive feedback as well as carefully judged development points. Questions posed by teachers first engage our TTYP (Talk To Your Partner) process to ensure all pupils are actively engaged. Skits, debates and improvisation take place within classes, while our school-wide and inter-school ‘Speaker’ competition, poetry recitals to parents and class assemblies, are just some of the ways we ensure that performance has real audiences and purpose.
Pupils are encouraged to immerse themselves within character and relate to their emotional and mental states. Throughout the year, all children are given opportunities to perform to an audience - be that of their peers, children from across the Viking Academy Trust, staff & visitors and, of course, parents. As part of their 'final farewell', all of our Year 6 pupils are also involved in an end of year production at the Winter Gardens.
For pupils who are working at a more developmental level of language, ‘Read,Write Inc.’ approach is used for the teaching of phonics, reading skills and spelling. The texts of ‘Read,Write Inc.’ are used in lower groups in Lower School.
English across the Curriculum
Pupils get to rehearse, apply and consolidate their learning in all other areas of the curriculum. Careful planning ensures pupils continue developing all areas of English in other subjects. For example, our Thematic Curriculum offers many opportunities for extended writing. In these lessons the pupils use their knowledge about a studied topic to write an extended piece.
How you can help your children at home?
There are lots of ways you can help support your child at home:
Talk to them! The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child and listen to them when they are talking to you. Try to extend their vocabulary range and their skill at talking in increasingly more complex sentences. For example, try to teach them alternative words for ideas, or nouns they already know.
Read to them and always discuss the story you are reading to try to build your child’s comprehension skills and understanding.
Listen to your child read every night. Find a quiet time to hear your child read and use lots and lots of praise to encourage them.
Encourage your child to record their writing in a variety of ways. They may wish to keep a diary, write a story, a review of their favourite game, or send a postcard. Support their ideas and give plenty of encouragement!
Support your child in learning their weekly spellings.