In our recent (March 2020) Ofsted report, the following comments were made regarding the teaching of English at BCS:
Reading is extremely important in the school. Children learn letters and sounds as soon as they start in the Reception class. Most pupils reach the expected standard in the Year 1 phonics screening check. By the end of early years and key stage 1, pupils’ attainment in reading is excellent.
The school has a rich and varied supply of books. Pupils told me they get lost in the books that they read. They relish the stories that teachers read to them. Teachers encourage children from the Reception class onwards to understand and explain what they are reading. By the time they are in Year 6, pupils’ ability to draw on their knowledge of a range of stories and texts, to make comparisons and to think critically is exceptional.
Writing is a significant strength of the school. Most children in Reception can write several sentences by the time they leave for Year 1. Older pupils draw on their vast knowledge and understanding of books and texts to add richness and colour to their writing. Teachers’ expertise at teaching grammar, punctuation and spelling ensures that pupils achieve exceptionally well by the time they leave Year 6.
Teach the children to read and speak aloud with confidence, fluency and expression.
As they progress through the school, develop articulacy in their responses to what they read and teach them to evaluate and appreciate deeper meanings within texts.
Teach them to write effectively across a range of genres, considering audience and purpose.
Through reading and writing, develop their creative and critical thinking skills.
Create platforms for the children to build effective discussion and debating skills.
Use ICT to support the children’s learning across the English curriculum.
Speaking & Listening
We teach children the importance of good speaking and listening skills through discussion and debating activities and through them performing their own compositions and those of others.
The children learn to speak clearly, confidently, fluently and appropriately for their audience.
We use classroom strategies such as talking buddies alongside whole class and group discussions.
We develop the children’s speaking and listening skills during Guided Reading and Writing sessions.
Talk for writing (oral work as a prelude to writing) is used across the school.
We teach phonics using the Letters & Sounds programme from Foundation through KS1, and in KS2 where necessary. All Year 1 children take the Phonics Screening Test in May. All Year 2 and Year 6 children (with rare exceptions) take the relevant key-stage tests in May.
Teachers and support staff read with children on an individual basis and in small groups. Children remain on a formal reading scheme until at least Year 5 entry.
Guided reading texts are used within each year group, with content pitched at a higher level than that which the children can read independently. By Year 6 the children are reading whole novels in guided reading.
Children are strongly encouraged to read at home and we provide reading lists for Free Readers.
We encourage reading and help the children to develop a lifelong love of reading by being enthusiastic about reading as a staff, by discussing books with them and by immersing them in a wide range of powerful and influential texts in lessons.
We have a well-stocked library which is managed by Year 6 School Managers and we hold twice yearly Book Fairs.
On World Book Day we hold a Big Bowdon Book Share event, where Years 5 and 6 fan out around the school and read favourite books to younger children.
We invite authors into school to talk about the craft of writing and to inspire the children.
We hold Reading Assemblies once every half term in KS2.
The children are taught to write in a variety of styles for a range of purposes and audiences.
As they progress through the school, our expectations of the children’s stamina for writing and the quality of their writing increase significantly.
We encourage children to develop their vocabulary (helped by reading), their creativity and their technical skill in writing.
In most year-groups, the children are given weekly spellings lists for homework which they are tested on.
Teachers use a range of pedagogical approaches, including ‘Exciting Sentences’.
The children develop their word-processing skills as they progress up the school.
Our children perform well in national tests against children in similar schools.
They are articulate and well-read.
They enjoy writing and write well.