The key aim of our English curriculum at Danegrove Primary School is to develop our pupils into literate individuals in the broadest way possible. Literacy is, according to the National Literacy Trust, “the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world.” I like to add to this the capacity to evaluate and analyse the texts that we find our pupils having to work with and find themselves increasingly being targeted with. Through our English curriculum, we want our pupils to be able to make sense of the world around them and to develop an understanding have an insight into experiences of others and times past, and to appreciate places and cultures they may not have first -hand experience of.
Our English curriculum has been designed to provide our pupils with a way of understanding people and characters with all their emotions and motivations; of understanding the world around them and to appreciate their rich cultural heritage through the study of prose/fiction, poetry and drama. Our primary objective is wanting our pupils to be readers who can make informed decisions!
Reading is, we believe the key to academic success and vital in every part of modern life. We want and encourage our pupils to read and discover a range of picture books, novels, poetry anthologies, magazines and on-line texts. We aim to engage, encourage and excite our pupils so they can discover authors and genres which evolve them into becoming dedicated readers. At the same time, we aspire to develop our pupils into creators of their texts so that they can construct and share. We want them to discover how powerful and influential the written word can be. We want them to experience the joy of discovering their voice and to experience the thrill of sharing their ideas and words with others.
The 5 Perspectives
The work of all our teachers in teaching English is informed, explicitly and implicitly, by theories about language, literacy and language.Five broad perspectives underpin the way teach English in our school.
Cultural Heritage Perspective
A Cultural Heritage Perspective focuses on the appreciation of the literary quality of outstanding works with a particular emphasis on classic and contemporary texts.This approach to teaching ensures that our pupils are immersed in classic texts: fairy tales, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Highwayman, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and modern classics such as Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. We aim for this process to provide the literary-cultural capital that is essential in understanding our history but also provide the appreciation of the literary quality of the work that they are exposed to. To facilitate this, our teachers select particular texts for in-depth study.
A Literacy Perspective
A Literacy Perspective: This perspective focuses on the teaching of foundation skills of literacy. Students work with texts to learn the skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking that are necessary to function adequately in school and society. Key features of this approach involve the teaching of what some refer to as functional literacy skills. In this approach to teaching and learning, pupils are taught specific reading, writing and spelling skills and strategies. There is also a focus on standard English both in spoken and written form. Our dedicated explicit teaching of SPAG is a core element of this.
A Personal Growth Perspective
A Personal Growth Perspective- this approach emphasises the importance of pupils engaging emotionally with texts, developing empathy, connecting fictional experience with their own lived experiences. Elements of our Destination reader Programme heavily uses this approach with pupils being encouraged to make links between the texts that are being studied with their own experiences and lives. One of the strengths of teaching English from this perspective is that it encourages our pupils to develop self- awareness and the ability to self- correct and evaluate.
The Genre Perspective
The Genre Perspective: One of our key drivers in teaching texts explicitly in our school is this particular approach to teaching. In this process of teaching and learning, pupils work with the teacher and peers to jointly construct texts based on the models which their teacher provides them with. They are like young apprentices who develop the appropriate knowledge and skill that enables them to work independently. They learn to identify key structures and features of different text types and then to utilise this knowledge to construct their versions of the text. They “imitate, innovate and invent,” as they become confident writers. Our whole school uses Pie Corbett’s Talk for writing and Modelled Writing as key resources in applying this perspective effectively across the school.
A Critical Literacy Perspective
A Critical Literacy Perspective -The fifth and final perspective, which our teachers put into practice is this powerful process of empowering pupils to understand that texts are human constructs which are designed to influence and at times manipulate readers to think and behave in a certain way. Texts are looked upon as containing bias and values. Pupils are taught to analyse and identify how the authors of these texts might be attempting to influence or position them. Whilst we try not to concentrate too much on the negative features of texts, as this may affect the enjoyment and appreciation of texts, it is we feel very important in an age when we have great volumes of text which our pupils are exposed to from many different avenues that they can critically look at, analyse, evaluate and fully understand what the purpose of the text might be and how it is aiming to influence them. This form of literacy is vital and a necessity in keeping safe and in making informed decisions.
Useful links & Info
Here are links to guidance on reading at the different stages of primary school education which you may find useful and recommended reading lists for each year group which is a very useful guide to quality age-appropriate texts.