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English – Spoken Language

At Holy Family,  we develop pupils’ spoken language using the principles outlined in the National Curriculum.

The National Curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.

Teachers therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills; we nurture and develop these skills so that our children are capable of expressing their own ideas clearly and confidently. Pupils at Holy Family develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They are assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others, and teachers ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to address any misconceptions. We foster an understanding of how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates. Questioning is an integral part of our teaching and we encourage children to be inquisitive and to share their thoughts confidently in a supportive environment.

We aim for children at Holy Family to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate in conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently in Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Spoken language skills are taught at a level appropriate to the age of the pupil.  The oral language skills that have been taught in preceding years are built upon with opportunities to revisit, practise and repeat learning which is key to deep understanding and having a mastery of skills. Pupils are taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness with which they are able to communicate across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences.  At Holy Family, we provide pupils with opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – pairs, small groups, larger groups, whole class, whole key stage, whole school and whole school community.

Opportunities for children to develop their competence in spoken language:

Talk is valued highly at Holy Family as a vital tool for learning and takes many forms including:

  • Exploratory play
  • Partner talk and collaborative work
  • Reciting and reading aloud  (Whole School Poetry events)
  • Re-telling, role-play and drama activities that enliven and enrich children’s understanding of character, such as hot seating and conscience alley activities
  • Listening to and participating in stories, rhymes and songs
  • Performance poetry and plays
  • Discussing a range of diverse and cultural texts  (Linked to Aspire/ Inspire curriculum)
  • Vocabulary lessons and use of sentence stems/ sentence starters
  • Orally rehearsing ideas for writing – linked to Jane Considine approach
  • Circle times
  • Class discussions
  • Class debates
  • Parent assemblies
  • Christmas nativities (Reception/Y1 and Y2)
  • Christmas concerts (KS2)
  • Easter plays (Y3/4)
  • Spring Concert at Saints Peter and Paul High School (KS2 Choir)
  • Good Shepherd Mass (Year 4)
  • Play in a Day opportunities
  • Worship Warriors
  • Harvest, Easter and Christmas church services
  • End of year productions
  • Showing visitors around school
  • Special celebration assemblies eg Mother’s Day Tea Party (Reception), Father’s Day event (Year 1), Grandparents Christmas party (year 2)
  • Pupil council elections
  • Pupil Leadership roles – prefects/Eco Team/ Pupil Council

We place a particular emphasis on increasing pupils’ vocabulary; we aim for every child to develop a broad and rich vocabulary and ensure that subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the wider curriculum through teacher modelling. Contextual learning supports the children to understand new words and encourages them to use them in their work. In whole class reading sessions (KS2) and guided reading (KS1), children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We always endeavour to model the correct grammar and expect children to do the same in their use of spoken and written language.

Constructive formative feedback is provided to pupils regarding their spoken language and listening skills, not only to improve their knowledge and skills but also to establish secure foundations for effective spoken language at primary school right through to secondary education and beyond. Pupils at Holy Family have a wide vocabulary and are confident speakers.  They enjoy talking amongst peers and to adults in school and demonstrate excellent listening skills.

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