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English Curriculum


As a school, reading is a top priority: our aim is for all children to become fluent and confident readers who can apply their knowledge and experience to a range of texts. Each half term, whole-class novels are carefully selected so children are immersed in texts which reflect a range of cultures and perspectives. We understand that, through the books we teach, children can see themselves reflected; these books may also be windows into other cultures and worlds. We achieve this through Whole Class Guided Reading lessons: from year 2, each child receives a copy of their class novel to immerse them fully in the story over a half term. As well as fiction, non-fiction and poetry are vital for ensuring we provide a broad and balanced reading diet. Over the course of a half term, children read a variety of non-fiction and poems which are linked to their class novel.

In addition to Whole Class Guided Reading, all children are given daily protected time to read widely and for pleasure to build their capacity for creative and critical thinking, expand their knowledge base, and develop their ability to respond with empathy and compassion to others. It is our aim for pupils to become lifelong readers who understand the value of reading and seek to do so outside of school. We want all of our pupils to have the knowledge and communication skills to actively and enthusiastically engage in discussions about the books they are currently reading, have read in the past and want to read in the future.

By the time children leave Hillyfield, we want them to be able to articulate themselves purposefully through their writing. In Key Stages 1 and 2, a wide range of genres are taught throughout the year that are carefully linked to writing purposes. Planned sequentially within a writing purpose per half term across the school, all writing opportunities and objectives are clearly mapped out in the year group’s long term planning. We provide daily opportunities for all pupils to write for a range of purposes and audiences which are studied over the course of a unit.  At Hillyfield, our pupils and teachers are writers and our classrooms are a writing community where everyone is able to discuss their own writing and how it feels to be a writer. Children’s own writely identity is integral to our curriculum: all children are supported to develop their own writer’s identity and to see the value in their own, and others, writing. Writing should be an enjoyable process which provides children with lifelong communication skills.  Through whole class writing for pleasure projects in KS2, children are given the opportunity to explore a genre in depth and craft their own piece of writing based on their own funds of knowledge, what they are most interested in and what is most important to them.

English in EYFS
Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage experience English through speaking and listening in both formal and informal situations and for different purposes. EYFS writing focuses mainly on narrative and retelling of stories, and ensuring that children are given the time and space to talk about and create their own stories in daily storytelling sessions and writing workshops.  They experience reading through a range of phonetic texts, simple texts and books and are encouraged to write for a variety of purposes through play activities. Children are encouraged to be  creative and to experiment through mark-making to record their thinking in a variety of ways.  Phonics, spelling and handwriting skills are also taught formally at this stage through activities  planned in line with the whole school schemes of work and Early Development Outcomes.



During English lessons, high-quality texts are used to teach the core skills, that are aligned with the expectations of the National Curriculum, through a combination of approaches/opportunities including:
Shared writing where the teacher models the expectations of the writing being undertaken within the lesson, modelling the metacognitive talk that exemplifies the writing process;
Guided writing where the teacher will work with a group within the lesson, modelling and creating a shared composition with a group of children;
Independent writing - children are given daily opportunities to write as well as regular opportunities to write for sustained periods of time to develop longer pieces of written work;
Teachers as writers - teachers take part in the same writing journey as the children whenever possible, producing the same writing as the children in order to promote classrooms as writing communities where everyone is a writer;
Recursive writing process - this process clearly modelled and referred to in every lesson, shown as permanent display in every classroom.  Teachers model each stage of idea generation, planning, drafting, editing, proof-reading and publishing;
Writing for different purposes and audiences - each half term has a specific writing purpose so that children are very clear on what it means to write for a variety of purposes, constantly reflecting on their writing’s impact upon their chosen reader;
Analysing genre features - specific genres and mentor texts are studied and revisited in order for children to know and understand how to structure their writing, according to genre and writing purpose(s);
Writing across the curriculum - all children are expected to apply the skills that they have been learning in English lessons to other subjects each half term (e.g. to write a persuasive letter in History to argue that the Romans have had more impact on present-day Britain than any other invader in British history)

Our whole curriculum is shaped by our school vision which aims to enable all children, regardless of background, ability, and any additional needs, to flourish in order to become the very best version of themselves they can possibly be. We teach the National Curriculum, supported by a clear skills and knowledge progression map. This ensures that skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all children. We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader.

Pupils are taught discrete punctuation and grammar skills, appropriate to their year group, allowing opportunities to identify, practise and consolidate grammatical understanding, whilst also being immersed in their writing. Children then apply the grammar and punctuation skills that they have learnt in their extended pieces of writing.

It is paramount that children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. In Reception, teachers model the correct posture for writing and how to hold a pencil in the correct position. From KS1, once children can form letters confidently, they are taught cursive handwriting in discrete handwriting sessions. Teachers are expected to role model the school’s handwriting style when marking children’s work, writing on the board and on displays around the school.  Teachers and children use guidance from the National Handwriting Association to know about the ‘4 P checks’ (posture, pencil, paper and pressure) that are necessary precursors for good handwriting and the ‘S factors’ (e.g. shape, size, space, etc) that are necessary to be applied consistently from KS2 upwards to ensure that children can write cursively and legibly.  

At Hillyfield, spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions within each class. Learning to recognise the high frequency words on sight is crucial in developing fluency and accuracy in reading and then writing. High frequency words are the words that appear most often in printed materials. Some of the high frequency words are referred to as ‘harder to read and spell words’, as the children are unable to use their phonic knowledge to decode every part of the word. Once children are confident in reading and spelling high frequency words, they are taught spelling rules and are encouraged to apply these rules in their writing.

From Year 2 onwards, classes follow the Spelling Shed programme for 15 minutes per day.  Through exploring spelling patterns and rules, we aim to create confident and proficient spellers using a discrete teaching approach underpinned by phonemic awareness as well as an understanding of morphology and etymology.

A selection of statutory spelling words become the focus for each half term, in addition to weekly spellings taken from the Spelling Shed programme.

Children are also taught to:
Spell accurately and identify reasons for mis-spellings
Proof-read their spellings
Recognise and use word origins, families and roots to build their spelling knowledge
Use dictionaries and thesauruses
Reading is an important part of our curriculum and is an integral part of all of our lessons. 

Reading for Pleasure
At Hillyfield, Reading for Pleasure is at the heart of our reading provision. Teachers read aloud to their classes every day to ensure all children hear a fluent reader during the school day. At each site, there is a well-stocked library which classes use weekly and can borrow books from to take home. Each class has daily independent reading time where they spend time reading a book of their choice.. During this time, children are encouraged to discuss the book they are reading and make recommendations to their peers.

Whole Class Guided Reading
From Year 2 upwards, children take part in daily Guided Reading lessons which run for up to forty minutes. Each half term, every pupil receives a copy of their whole class novel.  This whole book is studied in depth for the duration of a half term and links are made to it with non-fiction and poetry each week. These links provide a greater contextual knowledge to help with understanding of the core book for the half term.

Throughout the year, teachers have the opportunity to assess where every child in their class is in their learning journey in both reading and writing. Teachers use this assessment to plan units of work and to ensure all children are making progress. 

Teachers assess writing in a number of ways. Firstly, children complete a ‘cold’ writing task at the start of every unit. This ensures that teachers can identify gaps and misconceptions early on. All children are provided with a writing target sheet and are encouraged to use it to reflect on their learning and their next steps. Secondly, we use No More Marking to moderate writing across the school and, using comparative judgement, with other schools around the country. At the end of a half term, children then complete a hot task independently and progress in pupils' writing is then compared.

In reading, teachers also use a range of assessment tools. All pupils from year 1 to year 6 have a reading target sheet which teachers complete every half term. In years 2 and 3, children’s decoding, fluency and comprehension is assessed through Lexplore. From this, teachers can identify gaps for further analysis and interventions for some pupils are put in place. In years 4 - 6, Accelerated Reader is used to assess each child’s reading age every term. In addition, this provides information for teachers to use in supporting children to pick books most suitable for their reading level.

The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Through the teaching of phonics following the Essential Letters and Sounds programme, the children are taught the essential skills needed for reading. Phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and KS1. Phonics teaching is systematic, engaging, lively and interactive where the teachers, children and parents use consistent terminology.
At Hillyfield, we understand the importance of developing a secure foundation in number. Number sense is developed throughout Reception and KS1 using the NCETM - Mastering Number Programme to ensure learners leave KS1 with fluency in calculation and a confidence and flexibility with numbers. In KS2 Children continue to secure their number sense through the rapid recall of times table facts. In order to advance children’s maths skills in school and at home, Numbots and Times Tables Rockstars are used for practise, application and consolidation. Children are assessed weekly on their number knowledge through a timed challenge; in KS1 this is the number bond challenge and KS2 complete the 144 challenge. 

All year groups from EYFS to Year 6 follow the White Rose scheme of learning which is based on the National Curriculum. Lessons are personalised to address individual needs and requirements while maintaining coverage. At Hillyfield, we use the Flow model to ensure progression across maths units. Each White Rose unit of work is broken down into Show, Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving and children complete a cold task at the start of each unit which teachers use to identify starting points. Children then work their way through the flow moving at a pace which meets their individual needs. During each unit, all children have the opportunity to access reasoning and problem solving. A range of planning resources are used including those provided by the NCETM and NRICH to enhance our children’s exposure to maths problems. Problem solving days at the end of each unit are also used to enrich the understanding of pupils and ensure that explicit teaching of problem solving strategies are taught to all pupils.

Maths skills are taught and practised at various stages of the day, in addition to maths lessons, which encourages a broader approach to the teaching of maths, emphasising the importance of a wide perspective of how children learn. This also allows for cross-curricular links with science, PE and other subjects depending on the unit and year group. 

Children are assessed in mathematics using PUMA tests, which assess progress in maths each term within every year group from Year 1 to Year 5. Children in Year 6 are assessed using SATs arithmetic and reasoning papers. Classes may also use end of unit assessments as formative assessments to identify whether any points need to be reviewed or if any specific children need extra support. Children are also assessed on times table knowledge in Year 4 and internally in each year group in Key Stage 2. 

In EYFS, pupil’s are assessed through observations  to identify their level of achievement, interests and learning styles. As part of the ITMP approach staff step back and observe groups or individuals. They identify the teachable moments and have an immediate impact on an individual's progress through their interactions. Observations are placed in the class floorbook which children and staff use to look back through their learning journey and celebrate their success in certain areas of development. Within the first 6 weeks that a child starts reception, staff will administer the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) and at the end of the EYFS, staff complete the EYFS profile for each child.

Regular training sessions are organised for teachers, delivered by maths subject leads. These cover a wide variety of topics in relation to the planning and teaching of mathematics, including, for example, the CPA approach and the use of manipulatives and problem solving strategies. Professional development is also provided by the NCETM each term for teachers in EYFS and KS1 who are delivering the Mastering Number programme. Hillyfield is also part of the London North East Maths hub and the Sustaining Mastery workgroup which provides the opportunity to observe mastery specialists and develop maths leadership. The impact of these workgroups can be seen across the school. 


English Events
At Hillyfield, we aim to provide all children with a deeply meaningful, holistic English curriculum and whole-school events play a crucial part in this. Weaving national events through our whole school calendar, we offer our pupils an extensive range of planned opportunities, such as: National Poetry Day, World Book Day and the Book Trust’s annual Pyjamarama. As well as marking annual events, we also have a range of bespoke events, including: readathons, author visits and opportunities for the children to share their work with the wider community. The purpose of these events is not only to give the children exciting, memorable experiences, but also to create an authentic sense of community around spoken and written word which promotes a sense of belonging for children and staff alike.

National Poetry Week
During National Poetry Week, all year groups are asked to explore a particular theme. Children participate in daily writing and opportunities for recitals - with teachers encouraged to foster each child’s writerly identity through the poetic form. The week culminates in a whole-school event in which adults and children share the creative culmination of their week.
World Book Day
Always a focal event of our school calendar, World Book Day always creates a real buzz around our school as all year groups gather to share our love of reading and books.
Whole-school ‘Readathons’
All children are encouraged to participate in the annual readathon, to read widely and read for pleasure to include as many books that interest them.   The children are given certificates to celebrate their reading achievements and this is also marked in class and whole school assemblies. 

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