Our aim is that pupils at Willowbrook School:

  • Develop excellent speaking and listening skills. They will be able to express themselves clearly and will learn to listen attentively to others;
  • Become competent and confident readers who can read with fluency and expression;
  • Can discuss and analyse a range of literature;
  • Become technically accurate writers who can write for a range of purposes;
  • Will be able to draw upon a rich vocabulary to express their thoughts and ideas.

Our English curriculum enables pupils to develop the vital skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. From Nursery onwards, we put a great emphasis on developing pupils' oracy skills, with early speech and language intervention for those who need it. This emphasis continues throughout the school, where children are taught to express themselves in full sentences and with confidence. We believe explicit phonics teaching is crucial in developing confident readers and writers, and we proudly use Sounds-Write as a scheme for delivering this.

We continue to teach Reading explicitly throughout the school, with a heavy emphasis on developing pupils' fluency and understanding of word-meaning, as we believe these underpin comprehension, as does a knowledge-rich curriculum. Our writing curriculum exposes children to a broad canon of texts which will inspire, challenge and enrich their understanding further. In terms of our approach to teaching writing, we believe in developing automaticity of the basics - e.g. handwriting, spelling and basis sentence structure - so that children's working memories are freed-up to focus on composition and effect. 'Daily dictation' happens in all classes as we believe it supports automaticity of these basics, whilst also supporting pupils' listening skills.

In the Early Years, pupils are given lots of opportunities to apply their developing writing skills in their Sounds-Write lessons, but also in the continuous provision, where purposeful writing opportunities are always provided. In KS1, we use a structure for English units broadly based on the 'talk for writing' approach, where children are immersed in the features of a text before innovating this structure to create their own pieces of writing. In KS2, we move more towards a novel-study approach, where children produce more frequent chunks of writing rather than always working towards a 'final piece' at the end of a unit. We assess writing using a Comparative Judgement approach, which is underpinned by robust research and is more reliable than traditional forms of moderation.