English at Upton
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.
Please click at the bottom of the page to see the books each year group study and our English overview.
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.
Throughout the year pupils have the opportunity to take part in specific writing competitions, both internally and externally judged, and for a variety of audiences. These can form the basis for homework tasks or be generated through classes.
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. Please click at the bottom of the page tpo see some example of our most recent projects.
Developing Oratory Skills
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 and ‘Freshstart’- part of ‘Read,Write Inc’ is used in lower groups in Upper School. The ‘Text- based ‘ cycle is adapted to these books.
Literacy 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 UBBC topics offer opportunities 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.