The 2014 Primary English Curriculum provides limited progression and broad objectives. This document provides smaller learning steps based on these and a more detailed progression. Furthermore it suggests additional objectives where gaps or weaknesses have been identified. Teaching these will lead to a more rounded and complete English curriculum for Mildmay Junior School.
The planning strategy used at Mildmay Junior School is divided up into four key areas. It is then subdivided into fifteen strands:
• Word Reading
• Being a Reader
• Being a Researcher
• Grammar and vocabulary
• Handwriting and Presentation
In the complex area of reading comprehension, there are ten sub-strands:
READING COMPREHENSION STRAND
• Answering questions
• Understanding text organisation
• Understanding writers’ use of language (Year 2 onwards)
• Understanding purpose and viewpoint (Year 3 onwards)
The following notes aid in understanding the decisions made in planning the teaching of English at Mildmay Junior School.
• The objectives used are cumulative. Mildmay Junior School will ensure that pupils are secure in previous objectives in a strand before moving on
• Objectives are challenging to reflect the higher expectations in the New Curriculum
• A variety of objectives are included. Some are short term and appear in one term only. Others are long term and will appear across a year or more. Some can act as lesson objectives while others are broader.
• A limit of five objectives per term was decided upon to encourage the direct teaching of spoken language
• Mildmay Junior School will ensure that each objective is taught directly then applied in a range of other contexts
• Drama will be a regular feature of the curriculum.
These Drama objectives do not detail the use of drama as a teaching tool for reading, writing or other subjects (although these uses are, of course, entirely valid). Instead it is seen as an important subject in its own right.
• Children at Mildmay Junior School continue reading at the level assessed during their last term at Infant school. Less able readers follow the Project X scheme, Oxford reading tree, Literacy Links Plus Catch up scheme, keep on reading and Bug Club online portal. The school library contains both reading and reference books. Reference books are stored under the Dewey system and children learn to use this when studying information retrieval skills. A selection of books for reference and individual reading can also be found in each classroom. Parents are requested to hear their children read every day where possible, also to talk about the book with their children, the plot, characters and what they like about the book.
• The National Curriculum takes the view that phonics is the only reading strategy needed. Mildmay Junior School agrees that it is the most important strategy but also includes other strategies in order to create a more skilled reader.
BEING A READER
• Objectives in this area are important but broad. Teachers at Mildmay Junior School aim to use them across the curriculum and in a variety of contexts.
• Mildmay Junior School believes that texts should grow in difficulty but takes the view that reading comprehension skills deepen and progress as well
• Each sub-strand has one objective per term and in the tables of objectives they are always detailed in the sub-strand order given in the introduction. Some objectives are short term, others long term.
• These objectives can be used across the full range of reading lessons
BEING A RESEARCHER
• The view was taken that, despite the limited objectives in the National Curriculum, this was a crucial skill for pupils to develop in the primary school in order to build their independence and to prepare them for secondary school
• Here, a yearly group of objectives is repeated each term to build skills through increased application
• Objectives reflect the increasing use of on-screen technologies
• Mildmay Junior School curriculum reflects the National Curriculum’s organisation of writing into planning, composing and evaluating
• Writing objectives in the National Curriculum are fairly broad. The decision was taken to extend them, especially in composing, to cover a range of key skills.
• It is important that writing style is taught throughout the primary school. Without this, higher attainment in Years 5 and 6 becomes very difficult.
GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION AND VOCABULARY
• Objectives are very detailed in the National Curriculum in this area
• It is important for pupils to develop both a knowledge of grammar and the grammar skills to use in their writing
• Some grammar terminology commonly used in primary schools is absent in the National Curriculum. Most importantly ‘connectives’ and the classification of sentences into simple, compound and complex are not now used. However, these are highly useful terms for teaching and for pupil feedback. Their use has clearly been shown to raise writing standards. Therefore, Mildmay Junior School curriculum retains them and incorporates them into the statutory progression.
• This is another area of great change in the National Curriculum. Expectations are heightened throughout.
• Objectives from both the programme of study and the spelling appendix are included
• An investigative approach will be used throughout
• The term ‘spelling convention’ is preferred to ‘spelling rule’ due to the number of exceptions that tend to exist
• The direct teaching of spelling has proven to be the most important factor in spelling improvement. Using the learning of spelling lists as the main, or only, strategy is likely to limit potential improvement.
• Dictation is seen as a useful teaching tool rather than a testing tool only
HANDWRITING AND PRESENTATION
• Mildmay Junior School curriculum heightens the expectation of joined handwriting by asking it to be in place from Year 3. There is much evidence that this early joining is of great benefit to writing stamina and spelling.
• The National Curriculum omits any reference to keyboard skills. This has been redressed and is a clear focus throughout.
• The transition to writing with a pen has also been included.
• The National Curriculum focuses on handwriting rather than presentation. In Mildmay Junior School, presentation of both written and on-screen texts are focused upon in KS2. Skills here are hugely important to build independence and for the transition to secondary education.