English

“Reading is breathing in, writing is breathing out.”

We are all incredibly proud of English at Courtney. The standard of writing is incredibly high and equally the progress children make through the school is impressive. The teaching of writing at Courtney is incredibly simple yet so effective. Alongside Teaching and Learning advisors we have created, revised and honed our very own ‘Courtney Teaching Sequences’ for writing. These sequences are born out of a combination of the best ‘bits’ from many approaches to writing e.g. Talk for Writing and Power of Reading. The sequences are consistent across the school from EYFS to Year 6. We’re proud that many schools have requested to visit to ‘magpie’ our approach to writing.

The teaching sequences follow a similar path to one another and are segmented into the following parts:

  •          Narrative – 15 teaching sequence
  •          Non-fiction – 10 day teaching sequence
  •          Poetry – 5 day teaching sequence

Every term, a class will base their planning, writing, reading and topic around a high-quality, age-appropriate text. This is the main stimulus for everything that follows…

Each sequence starts with a bang! The children have opportunity to immerse themselves within the topic or text. Often, classrooms are redesigned and the children are hooked the moment they enter the door.

Then, what follows, is a carefully planned and well-executed sequence of grammar teaching and linked writing opportunities to apply the skills, which are called ‘Short-burst writes’. This structure has been a great success as it is enabling children to learn a skill then use a skill. This sequence is flexible which allows teachers to challenge more able writers swiftly or support children who haven’t yet shown a grasp of the grammar skill.
Towards the end of each sequence, the children have an opportunity to explore all of the grammar skills taught so far in an End of Unit piece. This takes many forms but is usually an innovation of the original. In non-fiction, we pride ourselves on the variety of genres taught: non-chronological reports; debates; recounts; explanations; instructions.

As a finale for each sequence, there is opportunity for the children to present, read or perform their writing. Something we feel is vitally important to our authors.

What to do with all of this incredible writing? Display it in an incredible way! On visiting Courtney, you will be struck by many things. The quality of our English boards in the corridor will certainly be up there with the rest. Not only the quality of writing on the board, but the way in which it has been displayed with pride, creativity and enthusiasm by our dedicated teaching staff is inspiring.

All of this wonderful writing couldn’t happen without a rich and inspiring diet of reading. At Courtney, we have been developing our approach to the teaching of reading. Currently, we are using an approach called, “Reading Hats”. A link to this approach is found at the bottom of this page.

Each hat has its own purpose and support the children in reading and understanding a text in addition to supporting them to answer questions. The teaching of reading is supported by a group of Reading Assistants working across EYFS to Year 6. Children are identified by their class teacher and work with the Reading Assistant to develop a certain area within their reading.

The culture of reading has grown significantly this year with the introduction of our new school library. With a successful Foyles Foundation grant and support from the PTA (Friends of Courtney Primary) we were able to purchase new furniture and restock the shelves with mouth-watering texts. The children have opportunity to access the books for pleasure and topic research many times a week. Our loyal team of Junior Librarians from Years 4, 5 and 6 can recommend, return and loan books (as long as they’re not reading at the time!).

Similarly with the other features of English, phonics at Courtney has been made purposeful, fresh and exciting. EYFS and Year 1 follow the letters and sounds progression. This year, the EYFS team refreshed the actions linked to the sounds. 

Spelling is taught from Year 2 to Year 6 following the Babcock No Nonsense Spelling progression.