English and the Arts
The Arts at Great Bowden Academy
All children have daily English lessons. In Foundation Stage, this may take place throughout the day, whilst in Years 1 – 6, a dedicated lesson and further cross-curricular opportunities are designed to develop the children’s writing and reading skills. In KS2, separate guided and independent reading activities also take place every day.
We use the progression grids in the Learn-AT English Framework document (see below) to ensure the skills for each year group are taught. With the exception of the spelling scheme of work, we only state the whole year’s content, rather than the progression at points throughout the year. This is because we want skills to be taught and retaught in an iterative process during the year and because embedding skills in context and with purpose is the best way for children to learn.
Reading: We aim for all children to become fluent, independent, enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry, drama and non-fiction texts. The children will be taught a range of reading strategies including phonic knowledge, grammatical awareness, word recognition and contextual understanding. Children will have opportunities to read and respond to a range of literature and non-fiction texts. Please see our separate phonics and reading document for more details.
Spoken Language: We encourage children to listen attentively and respond to stories, plays and poems. They have many opportunities to discuss, explain and describe situations whilst also listening to the viewpoints of others. They learn to use language in imaginative ways and express their ideas and feelings through drama, and through reciting poems and stories.
Spelling: We know that supporting children in making automatic choices about the way words are spelled is key to developing automaticity in writing. Spelling is taught discretely and regularly throughout the school.
The phonics lessons that the children have in their early years at school feed into more focused spelling lessons, beginning in Year 2. The children learn to break words down into their constituent sounds and syllables and are able to write these down. To develop their orthography skills, the children use an approach called Word Study, learning to recognise patterns in spellings and to identify what makes a word unique. This also involves understanding the meanings behind parts of words: knowing how a word has evolved in our language is an important step towards understanding how it is spelled as well as how it can be used. Investigating and sorting words also supports children in their vocabulary development.
Sometimes the children are given some words to rehearse at home using Word Study techniques. A few regularly occurring but unusually spelled words need learning out of context but, for the most part, we aim to support the children in being aware of the choices they have about ways of spelling different sounds and in feeling confident about how to apply them correctly most of the time.
Writing gives children a voice, an ability to share their thoughts and ideas. Children use their writing skills in almost all areas of the curriculum and we want our children to be able to communicate with others confidently and creatively through their writing. Therefore, we place importance on making writing meaningful and emphasising its purpose – to entertain, to persuade, to inform or to discuss. Children write every day across the curriculum.
Underpinning our writing curriculum is our reading curriculum: we know children’s reading experiences are closely linked to the progress they make in writing. Carefully chosen, high-quality and challenging texts support the development of the children’s vocabulary and writing techniques. They expose children to a breadth of literature and allow them to engage with authors and the way they write.
Learning to write is complex. Central to our children’s learning is achieving increasing fluency in the skills of handwriting, grammar and punctuation. Each year group has a specific set of skills to learn in order to ensure a steady progression through school. Grammar and punctuation are taught in context and linked to the texts children are reading in class. We have grammar knowledge organisers that we share with parents at home to reinforce the work we are doing in school.
Children also explore writing through drama and the spoken word. They are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and experiment with ideas and techniques. Clear teacher modelling of writing ensures that children are well supported in creating their own compositions before being able to work independently.
Children are encouraged to make observations, to use a range of materials, tools and techniques, and to explore the use of colour, line, tone, pattern and texture.
They will have the opportunity to design, paint, draw, print and make models. They will also learn about the work of well-known artists. We seek to provide children with the skills to express their feelings as well as to create high quality artwork.
In Music lessons the children gain an understanding of sound and rhythm through listening to and playing a variety of instruments. There are also opportunities to sing, compose, listen to music and learn about different composers. We have music specialist teachers who visit the school to teach some of the curriculum and we use the Charanga scheme of work to support other teaching. There are opportunities for children to have instrumental lessons with specialist teachers. The school also currently runs extra-curricular choirs for KS1 and KS2, and has an ensemble group who rehearse and perform together. Each year we hold our Great Bowden Stars event, where the children have the opportunity to perform to each other and to parents.
From Autumn 2021 we are teaching Latin in KS2 at Great Bowden Academy. We know that this will support the work we are doing on morphology and etymology in our spelling lessons and give some context to some of the grammar teaching we are doing. It will also provide a foundation to most of the modern foreign languages that the children will go on to study in secondary school, wherever they choose to go.
When the exchange programme is running our children can go to after school clubs to have Mandarin lessons from Chinese students.