English at Bure Valley is taught through a range of carefully planned units that explore a range of genres and text types. Our aim for is for every pupil at BVS to have experienced writing for a range of purposes, and in a variety of styles. Reading is also a huge part of life at Bure Valley, and we strive to develop a love of reading in all of our children.
The English units taught at BVS have been developed and improved over several years and are constantly reviewed and revised by staff to support all children in producing confident, high quality independent writing. We use no specific scheme for teaching writing, which gives staff the freedom to pull resources from a range of providers to enable the best learning possible. Embedded within our English planning is the punctuation and grammar content specified by the National Curriculum. We strive to teach these ‘SPAG’ objectives within meaningful genre-based contexts in order to demonstrate their purpose and effect on the reader. Our units are always planned around high-quality texts, so pupils will receive exposure to a wide range of authors and genres during their time with us.
Writing is not just limited to English lessons however, and we recognise the importance of children learning to write across the curriculum. We endeavour to embed extended writing opportunities across our foundation lessons as well, for example, science experiment findings or an in-depth explanation of why The Vikings invaded Britain.
We currently have over seven-and-a-half-thousand books available for pupils to choose from in our library! This ranges from the large selection of fiction books in the centre of our ‘whisper-space’, to the poetry, non-fiction, biographies and plays around the circumference. Children have the opportunity to choose a book to take home once a week and they can keep it until it is ready to be returned.
Reading is (of course) embedded throughout our wider curriculum, however the explicit teaching of reading is taught through English lessons and Guided Reading sessions. Guided Reading typically takes the form of ‘whole class’ lessons focussed on a chapter from a high-quality text. While reading the text, teachers will ask questions and discuss unfamiliar vocabulary. Reading is then often followed by the pupils completing comprehension/inference activities related the chapter that has just been read. Class teachers strive to complete a book from start to finish in guided reading, but this is not always possible.
At Bure Valley, we have our Bookworm Reading Challenge.
Children need to choose a book that meets one of the ‘Book Choice’ criteria (in the files to the right and in pupil planners), and once they have read it, then complete a response task of their choosing. There are of course many combinations, such as reading a book that looks old then redesigning the cover, or reading a book set in the future then writing a letter to the author!
There are three levels of certificate:
- Bronze – reading three new books and completing three tasks.
- Silver - reading eight new books and completing eight tasks.
- Gold - reading fifteen new books and completing fifteen tasks.
Silver and gold achievers also receive a bookworm badge and get the opportunity to choose and purchase new books for the school library at the end of the year.
The challenge has little focus on page numbers or book length. This encourages readers of all ages and abilities to take part and enjoy.
Teachers often find that children gravitate towards the same authors and series repeatedly when given free choice over their reading books. By having criteria for books that count towards the challenge, this encourages children to find new and different books to their normal ‘safe’ choices.
Of course, children are still free to select and read whatever they choose, and the challenge is not compulsory. Books can be from home or the school library.
The tasks not only serve to confirm that children have indeed read the titles they claim they have, but to embed a habit of discussing and reflecting upon what they have read. These tasks must be of a high quality and led by the child. They are celebrated on displays around the school and in weekly celebration assemblies.