At Thorner, our intent is to provide a high-quality English curriculum that equips our pupils with the skills and knowledge to become confident readers, writers, speakers, and listeners (click here for our Speaking and Listening curriculum). We aim to foster a love for English language and literature, and ensure that our pupils are not only competent users of English, but are also encouraged to think critically, express themselves creatively, and develop a deep understanding of the world around them.
‘An inspirational place to learn and play, helping us make the most of every day’
Writing at Thorner is an inspiring and creative subject, which engages and encourages all children to write for relevant and meaningful purposes. In addition to receiving their National Curriculum entitlement, our core text approach provides children with the knowledge and enriched vocabulary to produce beautifully published writing of a consistently high standard. We use cross-curricular writing to stimulate children’s creativity. Teachers have a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject and plan inspiring lessons.
In Writing our intent is to:
- focus on the National Curriculum aims and develop skills through creative and inspiring teaching of appropriate learning objectives
- focus on the school’s curriculum policy and make meaningful links between all subjects, the school themes and reading
- inspire all children to develop a positive attitude and stamina for writing
- develop a love for writing with a sense of pride when children publish their work
- utilise cross curricular links to give writing a purpose and audience and the opportunity to write in a range of styles and genres
- focus on editing and redrafting and becoming reflective learners
- use a consistent approach to teaching spelling
The National Curriculum specifies the curriculum to be taught for each individual year group and therefore progression of knowledge, skills and understanding is already built in (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335186/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_English_220714.pdf.
Our English approach is implemented through quality texts, which may be cross-curricular, that inspire us as teachers and enthuse our children. In writing, we follow the CCC’s (Collect, Connect and Create) approach. During each stage, we ensure children are exposed to high quality modelling from teachers and analyse WAGOLL’s which then form the basis of our working walls. We ensure that all tasks are accessible for all children including those with SEND and provides an appropriate level of challenge.
When we are focusing on the ‘Collect’ stage, we ponder and predict what might happen in the story/text, analyse WAGOLL’s (What A Good One Looks Like – used as an exemplary piece) for word sentence and organisational features as well as collect high quality vocabulary from the text which the children can use and apply in their own writing.
In the ‘Connect’ stage of our learning, we use the collected vocabulary and model it into sentences/paragraphs. We also develop ideas by manipulating sentence structures, constructing paragraphs and using higher-level punctuation and grammar. We put great emphasis on children taking pride in their writing. Learning objectives are skill based linked with the National Curriculum objectives and taught in an inspiring and creative manner.
Therefore, in the ‘Create’ stage of their learning children plan and write an extended piece of writing using success criteria which has either been given to them or produced by the children. They then edit and improve these pieces of writing before publishing a final piece. This produces a high-quality published piece of writing with all feedback embedded.
When appropriate, children are provided with time to complete a free writing activity or given time for writing about significant events e.g., global, national, and local events, or school events as and when they occur.
The teaching of the statutory spelling rules is implemented through a range of strategies that include phonology (how it sounds), graphology (writing the word), orthography (how it looks), morphology (how your brain remembers it) and etymology (history of the word).
In EYFS, well-sequenced phonics teaching supports letter formation and spelling of words. (See EYFS & Phonics) We follow Little Wandle and writing is an important and valued part of each phonics session. In the early stages of EYFS mark making is valued and writing is implemented in the moment, engaging children in purposeful writing through their play. Adult modelling is key to children segmenting words accurately and forming letters correctly. Helicopter Stories are used to model and encourage the retelling and creating of stories which children then independently replicate in provision areas, choosing to write and act out their own stories.
The impact of our writing approach is that:
- Children enjoy writing.
- Children write for a variety of purposes, contexts and audiences
- Children use discussion to further enhance their writing.
- Children can plan, edit and publish their writing.
- Children write in neat, joined and legible handwriting.
- Children spell words correctly and their sentences are grammatically correct.
What our children say about writing at Thorner:
“I love writing as I get to express myself and show what I can do. I also love to see how my handwriting, spelling and work improves all the time.”
“I enjoy writing at Thorner because we do exciting activities, for example when we were writing about War Horse a real horse came to school to help inspire our writing.”
“I really like writing because I improve every day and I learn new words all the time. The words help make my writing better and it is always fun.”
‘An inspirational place to learn and play, helping us make the most of every day’
Reading is at the heart of the curriculum at Thorner; teaching a child to read is the greatest gift that we can give a child in our school. Because of this, we see it as a primary purpose of our curriculum. From Early Years to Year 6, we ensure that all our children not only learn the skills and knowledge to enable them to read (following the EYFS Framework and National Curriculum), but also to develop positive life-long dispositions and attitudes towards reading – that will take our children through secondary school and into adulthood. (Click here to read our reading progression document).
We want our school to be a place where children are read to, enjoy, discuss and work with high quality books and texts. These ‘essential reads’ would be a store of classics, creating a living library inside a child’s mind. This is the ‘Reading Spine’. These texts have been selected based on ideas from a range of different sources, for example, Pie Corbett's Reading Spine, Doug Lemov's Reading Reconsidered, and Ashley Booth's The Teaching Booth materials. They are books which we believe will not only give pupils the opportunity to develop their skills in reading, such as fluency and comprehension, but, more importantly, enhance their engagement and love of reading as they move through our school and beyond.
The texts of our reading spine also take into consideration those readers who are potentially working at a greater depth of understanding and need to be challenged further. They are complex, either through their lexical level, or because they contain text, for example, which contains archaic, figurative or symbolic language, or non-linear time sequences.
To complement our reading spine, children also read a wide variety of texts which address diversity and equality, thus ensuring that our children have a rich and varied reading diet which is reflective of the current world and the future.
Pie Corbett says…
“Great books build the imagination. The more we read aloud expressively, and the more children are able to savour, discuss and reinterpret literature through the arts, the more memorable the characters, places and events become, building an inner world. A child who is read to will have an inner kingdom of unicorns, talking spiders and a knife that cuts into other worlds. The mind is like a ‘tardis’; it may seem small but inside there are many mansions. Each great book develops the imagination and equips the reader with language.
Great stories speak to us as individuals and some children will return to certain books again and again. Great stories also build our language because around 75 per cent of our vocabulary comes from our reading. Reading develops the ability to think in the abstract; to follow lines of thought. Schools that have a reading spine, build a common bank of stories that bind the community together. These are shared and deeply imagined common experiences.”
Please click here to access our Reading Spine.
Teaching children to ‘decode’ or ‘read’ in its most basic form is a key driver for our Early Years and Key Stage 1 curriculum. Once children can ‘read’, through a robust and systematic approach, the world opens up to them. It is our duty to ensure that all our children are ready to embrace both the literary and wider world.
In Reading our intent is to:
- focus on the National Curriculum aims
- focus on the school’s curriculum policy
- develop a positive attitude to reading
- develop a desire to read
- be confident to make a variety of genre choices
- be inspired to read for pleasure and research purposes
- be inspired by text choice/authors and where appropriate links are made across the curriculum
- be confident in discussions about language, structure and presentation to develop own understanding
- develop a broad range of vocabulary
- make links between authors, genres and themes
- create strong links with writing
Reading is central to our curriculum and texts are selected and promoted to enhance the curriculum. We have implemented a Whole Class Reading (WCR) approach.
Our whole class reading structure is:
WCR is implemented everyday across Key Stage 1 (Year 2) and Key Stage 2. Teachers begin the process by unpicking key vocabulary and features from an age appropriate, high-quality text. During WCR teachers model reading using expression and intonation, children model reading to their peers, children read individually, in pairs or in small groups. Tasks set are linked to the reading that has taken place in that lesson and teachers assess against the reading domains. We ensure that all tasks are accessible for all children including those with SEND and provides an appropriate level of challenge. Every WCR session uses the following sequence:
Ongoing assessment of children’s reading progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind. Where a child falls behind, targeted support is given immediately in line with our ‘Keep up, not catch up’ policy.
To develop pupils’ understanding and use of spoken language: Pupils’ vocabulary, grammar, understanding of the world, and their ability to communicate effectively are improved through the quality and variety of language they are exposed to through; unpicking key vocabulary from a quality text with a heavy emphasis on the daily revisiting of unfamiliar vocabulary.
In EYFS, reading is a priority. We focus on developing fluency, confidence and enjoyment of reading. Adults will consistently model language, vocabulary and syntax both from books and stories, as well as throughout the day in play through our approach to teaching and learning. EYFS and KS1 (See Phonics section of the website) have daily storytelling time where children explore books and create their own narratives.
Teachers encourage reading for pleasure by:
- Reading out loud to children at least once a day
- Providing time and space for children to share their recommendations and opinions
- Encouraging reading at home. Children take home books that closely match the letter-sound correspondences, but also are also able to take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book.
- Developing children’s rich ‘reading diet’ and knowledge of literature. Children are given the opportunity to personally respond to texts, debating and developing links to other texts, authors and prior knowledge.
- Using Reading Corners linked to our core text
Book in a Box Competition
The impact of our reading approach is:
- Children develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
- Children’s comprehension skills develop and they are able to use inference and deduction to make reasoned comments about a text.
- Children enjoy discussing texts and can make links between various texts that they have read.
- Children read a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Children appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage.
- Children develop a wider vocabulary which in turn helps their writing and speaking.
- Children’s imaginations flourish and curiosity about their curiosity about the world develops.
Here's what our children say:
"I love reading because we have a book corner we can choose to read in.”
"I really enjoy reading a school and I am thankful that at Thorner we get so many chances to read.”
“I enjoy Reading for Pleasure because I like the books in school and also the magazines.”
“I enjoy doing Reading for Pleasure because we can bring our own books in and read with other people. Thorner has helped me start to like reading.”
“I am in awe of all the books we have in school and the variety of them.”
“I love reading our class text ‘War Horse’ with everyone.”
“I like reading because it helps me calm down. I like reading Tom Gates because I love the pictures as it draws me in.”
“I used to hate reading as I never understood the big books but now I enjoy it as we can read in our spare time and we have Reading for Pleasure sessions.”
"I really love reading since I started Year 6, I’m now reading great big books like Harry Potter!”
“At Thorner I enjoy Reading for Pleasure. I love to read with my friends”
UK Literacy Association Book Awards 2022 Shortlist:
The Reader Teacher-reviews and recommendations:
Fresh Books and Debuts Ready for 2022 – The latest releases for children's books!