The teaching of English incorporates Speaking and Listening, Writing and Reading.  At Birkbeck we use the Power of Reading Project that emphasises the importance of using high quality text to support writing development. The use of high quality Reading Material provides the children with essential knowledge about genre structures as well as opportunities for grammatical study through analysis of the professional writer’s craft. The power of Reading has proven to be very popular with all our children and even those who thought they didn’t like to read become highly motivated.

Speaking & listening is not taught explicitly as this permeates through every element of children’s school life.  A key strength of our curriculum is in the time dedicated across the school to the use of talk for learning strategies, drama and improvisation to support children’s writing development. Children are given opportunities to rehearse and practice their ideas before committing them to paper. We have found this to be a particularly successful strategy for engaging all children even those who can be reluctant writers.

Debate also plays an important part in the development of children’s Speaking and Listening skills and is crucial to the development of children’s critical thinking and analytical skills.

All children, even our very youngest, have opportunities to participate in debates as part of whole class teaching and group work. These debates are always linked to the class text and topics. Children learn to challenge each others views in a respectful and assertive way.

Teachers plan rich and varied writing tasks that cover a wide varietry of genres and these where possible relate to other curriculum topics being studied at the time. 

Our teaching of writing offers-

Quality children’s literature by significant authors.

Engaging starting points and immersion through experiential learning with a clear sense of audience and purpose.

Grammar, Spelling and Reading objectives are embedded throughout, with some opportunities for Phonics, all leading to well constructed written work.

At Birkbeck, we are passionate about Reading and want to make sure that all our children develop a love of Reading and that every child leaves us as a critical reader.  We use the ‘Power of Reading’ project as a basis to promote both Reading and the production of high quality written work.

Central to our approach to early reading and writing is the development of phonemic awareness.  Teaching of systematic phonics using ‘Letters and Sounds’ framework supports this gradual development. Daily, discrete high quality teaching alongside effective assessment and tracking helps to ensure that children meet the ambitious reading targets that are set for them.

All of our classrooms feature bright, stimulating and inviting book corners that are full of a rich and diverse range of text, something to tempt all children. In our book corners you will often find children’s recommendations and reviews of their favourite books. By the time children leave us in year 6 they have read many books by a wide range of significant authors that ensures they have a strong literary foundations on which to build onto at secondary school.

Daily guided reading provides our children with opportunities for reciprocal dialogue, shared thinking and shared reading with the class teacher and their peers. Developing reading comprehension and skills of inference are supported through these guided sessions. Children are taught the key skills of: retrieval; inference; structure; language choice; purpose/viewpoint and context.

They show their understanding of what they have read through a range of purposeful activities. Some of these include readers theatre and responding to comprehension questions in writing. We encourage independent free choice reading and ensure children hear adults reading aloud so that they develop and master voice control, intonation and pausing.

At every stage of a child’s life, reading should be pleasurable and we believe that time should be devoted at school and home to ‘reading for pleasure’. Children have the opportunity to read books of their own choice, which they take home, read and discuss. This is key to the development and enjoyment of reading.

Learning is planned in a cross- curricular way and we routinely use books as our starting point for a topic. Using a high quality text as a basis for learning really engages the children and helps to develop quality writing as well as stimulating learning in other areas of the curriculum.

Where possible, links to spelling patterns are made through whole class English teaching and Guided Reading sessions. However, this is not always possible. In KS1, spelling is taught through explicit spelling lessons and daily phonics sessions. In KS2, children have an explicit spelling lesson once a week to ensure that all of the spelling patterns and KS2 word lists are learned.

Teaching & Learning Policy