English at Langley Mill Academy
“It occurred to him that strength was quite different from toughness and that being vulnerable wasn't quite the same as being weak.” (Michelle Magorian)
English at Langley Mill Academy promotes high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language. English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions; it is key to our pupils achieving Langley Mill Academy’s vision that every child attains their full potential in terms of academic excellence and social responsibility.
Reading is core to our curriculum and everything we do. We strive to promote a love of literature by reading around themes and exposing children to a range of genres so that they can explore and develop their enjoyment of reading. Through reading in particular, our pupils develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Integral to this development is every child being immersed in good quality literature which develops pupils’ acquisition of a wide vocabulary, thus addressing recognised vocabulary deficit, and allowing children to explore and appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage.
As our context is predominantly White British, our curriculum promotes the rich diversity of Britain, including an appreciation of Langley Mill’s locality and history. We carefully choose the literature we expose the children to so that we can plan for purposeful opportunities to learn important knowledge of British values, history, mental health, well-being, equality and citizenship, developing our pupils’ cultural capital.
English provides the knowledge, skills and values that pupils need to take advantage of the learning opportunities, responsibilities and experiences offered by our whole curriculum, as well as in further education & later life, therefore providing & equipping the 44% of pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds with access to all future opportunities.
When designing our curriculum, books spines & reading themes we ensured it would:
- Build a background knowledge to promote comprehension and learning of new facts & concepts.
- Be vocabulary rich to access high quality texts and improve speech and language.
- Be experiential to provide access to all pupils.
- Be empowering to raise confidence & aspiration.
- Be meaningful to give learning a purpose that prepares pupils to be compassionate citizens of our world.
We value the home-school partnership as essential in helping pupils achieve their best. Effective communication with parents and carers ensures our pupils read at home and develop a love of reading with their parents, instilling within pupils our core values of respect, determination, enthusiasm, kindness and a confidence for learning and future aspiration.
Our English structure enables pupils to build knowledge and understanding of reading, writing, grammar, spelling and speaking & listening; pupils acquire knowledge and build on what they already know, whilst also allowing us opportunity to identify what the children do not know and intervene appropriately and proportionately. We consider an English skill to be the capacity to perform, drawing on what is known.
At Langley Mill Academy we have built a cross-curricular approach through termly topics, which make meaningful connections between reading, English lessons and curriculum topics, allowing teachers to plan creativity across the curriculum. Knowledge and skills are well sequenced and develop incrementally, following our pupil trackers for reading, writing, grammar, punctuation & spelling as well as our 'knowledge organisers' for curriculum topics. It is recognised that knowledge is embedded through spaced retrieval and activation of prior learning when applied to a task. Key Performance Indicators and objectives are revisited by all year groups when identified as an area to embed. For example: 'fronted adverbials', a Year 4 objective, are revisited in Year 5 and Year 6.
All pupils (unless working on individual Learning Plans & receiving rapid, measurable intervention) are able to read to an age appropriate level with fluency & take part in whole class Themed Reading & the class novel; thus exposing all pupils to quality literature. Teacher subject knowledge enables all pupils to achieve their potential with reading being our priority when planning and implementing our curriculum, in which books build children's knowledge and experiences through our termly Values, Journeys and Changes topics which take place in autumn, spring and summer respectively and are taught through our topic of enquiry.
All staff at Langley Mill Academy recognise the importance of reading. It defines our curriculum and the journey of all Langley Mill Academy pupils. Therefore, we have designed a continually evolving Book Spine, which offers our pupils a broad and balanced reading journey through Langley Mill Academy.
When designing our class novel book spine we considered the following:
- The first class novel each term will reinforce one or more of our school values.
- Two of the books will support wider- knowledge acquisition, themed around the curriculum enquiry question for the term.
- Class novels include books that will support an English Unit and will have to be read as a class novel so that the time is taken to read the whole text and explore the book in depth.
- Books that will be selected by the pupils from the ‘100 books’ to 'Read for Pleasure' in their year group.
Year 3 Class Novel Book Spine
Year 4 Class Novel Book Spine
Year 5 Class Novel Book Spine
Year 6 Class Novel Book Spine
Implementation: Reading the Class Novel
The class novel supports the English Unit and it is usually linked to the termly curriculum topic: Values, Journeys or Origins. It is read for 15 minutes every day in its own timetabled slot. The books are organised in Year groups through a 'Reading Spine'. ‘Class Novel’ can also include non-fiction texts, such as a science text. There may be more than one text per English unit. For example, Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ & National Geographic: Everything Volcanoes. Teachers also have the opportunity to read books they personally love and want to share, especially when English Unit texts are shorter. We value reading for pleasure. We read to our children every school day.
The class novel will be challenging. The children should be able to access it, but it should be a text that many of the class could not sit and read cover to cover independently. A class novel ensures children have access to and study a text in its entirety from start to finish and build the skill of following a text through.
The class teacher will read the class novel aloud so that children get the best possible understanding of it. Teachers model effective prosody and self-correction when reading and draw attention to the fact they have done so. They identify and think aloud about vocabulary, its meaning and use by the author.
We use these 'class novel' sessions to focus on the modelling and teaching of the skills of prediction and summary. Teachers read the novel with enthusiasm and passion and do not give the children copies to follow so as to avoid multitasking. Both teachers and pupils should enjoy this session and 'read for pleasure'.
Implementation: Themed Reading
At Langley Mill Academy we recognise that background knowledge is a key component in reading comprehension that we have to provide. Therefore we have designed our teaching of reading to build schema: pupils acquire knowledge, and explore vocabulary across a subject theme, reinforcing knowledge in context so that every pupil is piecing together ideas, information, experiences and concepts to form a coherent web that constitutes their understanding and fluency with the material in hand.
Scarborough's Reading Rope 2001: The many strands of becoming a skilled reader
Themed reads are timetabled daily in their own 30-minute slot. The reading themes include other curriculum subjects, poetry, classics, historical events, authors, songs, culture and social issues, effectively building pupil knowledge and cultural capital. They do not have to link to English or Curriculum topics & we can design additional weeks and lessons which develop our own themes around current events - for example COP-26.
The main skills covered during themed reading lessons are depth of vocabulary, inference and retrieval.
- Lessons begin with the reading. All children, working in pairs, need a copy of the text they can see / read. Texts should not take more than 15 minutes of the reading lesson to read. Teachers will read some of the text for modelling purposes & develop pupils reading fluency and skills through strategies such as Reading Theatre. Children should always do the majority of the reading.
- Basic reading aloud - children take sentences or paragraphs depending on text length/sentence length/proficiency. Partners could take it in turns.
- Echo reading - teacher reads exactly how text should sound and asks a child to ‘echo it’ giving constructive feedback as appropriate.
- Choral reading - pairs, groups or the whole class read aloud at the same time.
- Drop ins - if a child has not read aloud to the class due to proficiency, the teacher should ‘drop in’ with them during an activity and hear them reread part of the text.
2) Children should then do a very short retrieval quiz (quick start) that shouldn’t require much, if any, looking back over the text.
3) After this, any unfamiliar or potentially limiting vocabulary should be explored and read around for a few minutes. This could be accompanied with pictures/visuals where possible for a deeper understanding & develop knowledge of vocabulary in a wider context , including synonyms and antonyms.
4) Deeper questions or activities should then be presented one at a time. These should take three forms: individual thinking, partnered talk and solo work. Children should get into the routine of knowing what each of the three forms requires of them. The Djanogly Reading Tracker could be used to assess pupil(s) during ‘Themed Reading’
A pupils' English book is used for the themed reads. A suggested layout is provided; however, there is flexibility and room for creativity, whilst remembering that written recording is only one way of for pupils to engage with a lesson and answer questions. Pupils responses can include lists, explanations, opinions, pictures, diagrams, thought bubbles etc. It would be desirable to keep the theme on a single or double page for the week. Expectations on handwriting, presentation and effective feedback remain high.
Challenge in Themed Reading
Challenge, coherence and progression is built and developed by the texts through Key Stage Two. Texts need to get harder: that difficulty could come through either more complex syntax or deeper themes. Questioning, though obviously increasing somewhat in difficulty, largely stays the same as illustrated here by the same question being asked about The Tunnel in Y3 and The Good Thieves in Y6: What is the impact of this picture on the reader? / What is the impact of this opening on the reader.
Themed Reading questions also recognise Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid used to classify educational learning objectives into levels of complexity and specificity: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyse, Evaluate, and Create. This ensures progression though teacher questioning around reading and the wider curriculum when setting learning objectives.
Implementation: Independent Reading for Pleasure - 100 books
At Langley Mill Academy we have developed 100 Books to Read for Pleasure in each year group. These books are organised and categorised by year group and are all high- quality books across a range of text types to give variety and depth to pupil’s choose of reading materials. They include, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Picture books, Graphic novels, Topic-linked books, Diversity, Inclusion & Reflect the interest of the community (including characters who are deaf).
Children reading below ARE for their year group may also have a ‘Learning to Read’ book in addition to their Reading for pleasure book that is given to them by the teacher, in line with the school’s reading policy (e.g. a book band book or phonically decodable book from our Little Wandle systematic synthetic phonics programme.) We encourage reading of both fiction and non-fiction.
Texts should be read at the instructional / easy boundary (95% accuracy) with fluency and understanding. Children reading at an ‘easy’ level should be moved up a band as long as the texts remain age appropriate with suitable content.
Five home reads with records checked weekly. Children who are not reading at all at home should be flagged with School Leadership Team.
We aspire to read daily with our SEND children or pupils who are in the 'Spotlight'. This could be pupils who are from disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged backgrounds and who are not completing any home reading, and includes 20% of all our pupils who need the most support with reading. At a minimum all other children read once per half term with teacher & twice with their Teaching Assistant. Teachers assess using our Djanogly Reading Tracker. All adults carefully consider the level of challenge a text provides and the appropriate / expected band for the Year group. We recognise parents as key stakeholders in helping pupils to continue to learn to read from Year 3 to Year 6. Reading regularly will improve fluency, develop enjoyment and ensure reading skills are sufficient so that children can access the rest of the curriculum and achieve at the national expected standard. The following information is updated and communicated to parents on an annual basis:
A thank you…
I want to acknowledge the commitment that reading with your child takes: it takes time but regular reading from age 7 to 11 makes a huge difference to your child’s education and will have lasting impact into secondary school. Reading regularly will improve fluency, develop enjoyment and ensure reading skills are sufficient so that children can access the rest of the curriculum and achieve at the national expected standard.
Tips for parents and carers for reading:
- If you can, turn off the TV, radio and computer. It’s easier for both of you to enjoy the book without any other distractions.
- Expect your child to bring their book and record to you. Sit together. Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and turn the pages. Recap any vocabulary written in their reading record
- Take a look at the cover, the blurb, pictures and captions. Predict what the book is about or what might happen in today’s reading.
- Expect your child to use their phonic strategies to read unfamiliar words. Look at the letters of a word and segment it into its component sounds, before blending these sounds back together to read the entire word.
- Ask questions and talk about the book. Can they summarise what has happened so far? Give them space to talk, and ask how they feel about the situations in the story.
- Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to share a book. If your child wants a break from their school book they can read a non-fiction book, a newspaper or an internet review. Just remember to record it in their reading record.
If you have any questions regarding your child’s reading, or the teaching of reading at Langley Mill Academy, then you can contact Mr Bland (English Lead) via the school office or Class Dojo, or alternatively talk to their teacher during parents’ evenings or contact them via Class Dojo. We want all our children to enjoy reading & to make sure that they succeed.
Implementation: English Lessons
Overview / Long term plan
A ‘long term plan’ / overview of English is completed by all Year groups and saved on the school server in the English Curriculum folder. There are 12 units each year: two per half term. All folders are ready on the server to save planning.
- In the overview, we plan each unit considering the class novel (supporting texts) planning for purpose, audience & features of the main composition.
- Objectives are taken from our formative assessment system called O-track and include key performance indicators (KPIs) for each year group. These should be selected for each unit and teachers record by each objective which unit(s) they will be taught in. All objectives must be taught by the end of the year.
SMART lesson plans
A SMART board planning structure has been designed for a week of lessons (5 days) A unit will consist of 3 SMART board files saved in the prepared folder with supporting resources.
The SMART slides provide an initial framework for English lessons at LMA in 2020-21, which we can develop & improve. They are a basic structure that can be edited and added to with further slides and supporting photos, images, text extracts, quotes, other inspiring media & teaching resources. A set of planning slides contains an overview, the spellings for the week, the new vocabulary in the unit, a BUSC (or a reference to a display BUSC that can be photographed and put on the slide when complete), five spaced retrieval starters, five lessons and one reflection slide. A set of year group targets & a spelling overview are also included.
The English journey:
English at Langley Mill Academy is a journey: Engage, saturate, identify & deconstruct, composition task, dabble, plan, draft, revise, edit, publish. These stages will progress learning though a unit / genre. This journey will generally take 3 weeks with the supporting class novel.
A lesson will have two main slides: a retrieval starter slide and a lesson slide with objective & three main elements: identify, dabble and task.
The spaced retrieval slides are starters to a lesson, usually Grammar Punctuation and Spelling based & can be completed on white boards. This part of the lesson should be quick, buzzy & limited to 10 minutes. The format for the week could include an 'eight box challenge' or follow this sequence: Monday: Last week. Tuesday: Last term. Wednesday: Last year. Thursday: Spelling & phonics (selected from DLT spellings slides) Friday: This week's successes.
The first lessons in a unit will primarily engage and saturate pupils in reading with elements of 'dabbling' within the genre as pupils consider the audience and purpose and learn how to have an effect on the reader. Later in the unit, the majority of a lesson will be the task & composition, revising and editing writing and finally publishing.
An approximate format would be: Day 1-2 to engage & saturate with reading around the genre, day 3-7 to deconstruct & dabble within a supported framework with shorter written pieces for exercise*, days 8-12 for planning and composing and days 13-15 for editing and publishing. The task will be modelled by the teacher, include challenge for all pupils and refer to the class BUSC (Boxed Up Success Criteria) which is displayed in every classroom with an explicit audience and purpose for that text genre. *The shorter task pieces should feed into the composition.
The Boxed Up Success Criteria links explicitly to purpose of writing and to the reader & is displayed in every classroom. In the middle, pupils put what the writing purpose is and its intended audience; outwards from this are the intended ‘effects’ on that audience, or what the writing is meant to provide for its readers; outwards again are the features from a studied text which might help to achieve these things and the final outer box contains examples of vocabulary, phrases, and sentences. Writing is no is no longer just a tick list of things to include at set points. Challenge can be developed by pupils and accessed independently.
Editing, written in purple pen, should be completed in books every week. This could include peer marking. All lessons will include review, analysis, success sharing & teaching points at any time. These do not just come in a plenary (at the end of the lesson).
Writing target slides are included on the lower slides for each year group, with Key Performance Indicator objectives to refer to when writing.
Two things we always remember:
- the selected class novel should usually link directly to your English unit. This allows pupils to study a text in its entirety from start to finish and build the skill of following a text through, allowing understanding & developing of characters, setting & themes – and consequently a command of the subject they are being asked to write about. The novel will be read for 15 minutes each day, separate to the English lesson, in its own timetabled slot. Not to be missed - this is a "non-negotiable".
- This is a plan and a format for presenting lessons. It needs to serve both our pupils and the other teachers using it. Identify, dabble and task should make lesson activities and outcomes clear. Extra supporting slides can be put in for each day with any required resources either snipped onto the slides or saved in the folder.
Implementation: Handwriting & Spelling
The teaching of spelling is resourced from Twinkl spelling:
- Spelling Overview: A teacher overview for the half term (6 weeks), with 10 spellings each week.
- Spelling Menu: One menu per pupil to be printed off and kept in the back cover of the curriculum book for the half term. Themed menus are available, which could link to topic or behaviour systems.
- Spelling Menu Stickers: Awarded for eight correct spellings out of 10. This can be stuck on the pupil’s spelling menu.
- Classroom lists & posters: Display in the classroom weekly. Refer to it when selecting activities from the spelling menu. Snip the list for inclusion on weekly smart board plan.
- Spelling list - Look, Say, Cover, Write sheets: Given out every Monday for homework.
- Handwriting Sheets of spellings: Use as extra handwriting for pupils who need it.
- Monday: A 15 minute timetabled lesson where spellings are introduced, taught, practised and handwritten. Handwriting is always modelled on the board or IWB, following our school policy with demarcation lines for ascenders and descenders. Handwriting follows the school protocol and, unless a child clearly demonstrates a neat previously learnt style, always starts from the line for lowercase letters and isn’t looped. Usual expectation in handwriting sessions will be for a line of each word, with spacing between each word being approximately the size of a letter ‘a’.
- One chosen activity from the spelling menu. Further activities could be selected mid-week.
- Friday: Spelling test. Marking can be done by peers with pupils reading out their spellings. Record results.
When marking curriculum books incorrect spellings are indicated by ‘sp: word’ (see marking policy).
HFW should be written by the teacher for the child to copy three times. At a teacher’s judgement, for other incorrect spellings, subject specific and technical vocabulary, pupils should use a dictionary and self-correct.
Pupils have a wide vocabulary and a rich understanding of the meaning of vocabulary encountered in our curriculum. They can communicate and express themselves on an inter-disciplinary level, writing to inform, entertain and persuade. All pupils (unless specified in their individual learning plan) can access the curriculum and are not falling rapidly behind their peers, as evidenced by their English and Curriculum books.
Teachers are experts in the teaching of reading with a continuous weekly focus on vocabulary in English lessons, themed and individual reading. There is strong evidence that pupils’ comprehension, knowledge, vocabulary and ideas are developing as they should towards endpoints with 'Themed Reading' allowing pupils to express, communicate and share responses. Pupils develop rich responses in lessons and pupils writing demonstrates acquisition of vocabulary and 'author style' developed through extensive reading.
Current in school data, although impacted by COVID lockdowns, indicates pupils at Langley Mill Academy are broadly in line with end of KS2 2019 national averages in reading and writing with the expectation that we will narrow our attainment gap between maths and reading at the end of Year 6.
‘Interventions’, including phonics, are used to support reading and accelerate progress. We have planned for 15% of all our pupils to undertake a daily 20-minute session working 1:1 with an adult on a 10-week programme called ‘Switch On’, designed to increase children’s fluency & understanding, annually. Children undertaking Switch On should be reading at a 90-95% instructional level whilst also developing understanding. This measurable outcome progresses pupils to their age-appropriate book band and allows pupils to access reading in their classrooms, both in Themed Reading lessons and as a wider curriculum tool. We also use a dyslexic screening test for pupils who would benefit from a profile of activities.
Pupils who are reading below age-related expectations will read daily with an adult. We aim to read with approximately 20% of a cohort and we monitor this with thorough weekly records so that no child gets left behind.
English interventions include precision teaching of HFW, phase 2 to phase 5 phonics, and spelling. We are currently adopting a new revised phonics programme known as Little Wandle. Approximately 5% of our pupils will receive a phonics intervention.
Training with staff is ongoing and focussed on what our pupils need. Recent, and ongoing, staff development includes:
- Learning objectives and learning outcomes - recognising the what, why and how of learning with an English focus on audience and purpose. 3/11/21
- Reading for Pleasure - establishing a weekly opportunity to share books, read topic related books and read with upper KS2 peers. 19/10/21
- Reading corners in every class so that pupils have access to books that have been read to them previously or that support science / history topics etc. Forward facing & inviting to support reading for pleasure. (INSET 22/10/21)
- Little Wandle Phonics Programme training for all staff February 2022
- Writing intervention training: Success @ Writing October 2020.
- Phonics: Staff skills audit & training 15/10/20 with phonics interventions established in Years 3-5.
- Development of Themed Reading and teacher instruction in the teaching of reading (based on Rosenshine's principles), as well as developing ‘local area’ themes to align with our origins topic.
Our English lead is Mr Bland.