English at Millfields

At Millfields, the English curriculum has been designed so that pupils are taught how to speak, read and write fluently through a cross curricular approach learning. There are regular opportunities for thinking and questioning.  Clear and confident communication is key to a child’s future success so we champion the teaching and learning of it. Children are taught to communicate their ideas and emotions in a variety of ways through reading, writing, speaking and listening. Having a talk partner encourages all children to be active learners and gives less confident children an opportunity to have their voice heard.

Our cross curricular approach to the teaching of English ensures an immersion into all aspects of language and vocabulary acquisition. Pupils are exposed to a range of engaging and challenging texts and develop a love literature. At Millfields, children and staff alike are avid readers; we love reading! With reading a variety of literature at the heart of the English curriculum, children are given the opportunity to express themselves through writing, drama and debate which ensures that all pupils develop essential skills that unlock their potential across the entirety of the curriculum. They leave primary school as confident communicators, orators, readers and writers who have the best possible chance to participate fully as a member of society and ultimately impact on their future life chances.

How English is taught at Millfields

At Millfields we want all of our readers to have:

  • Excellent phonic knowledge and skills, taught through the scheme of Read Write Inc.

  • Fluency and accuracy in reading across a wide range of contexts throughout the curriculum supported through the pedagogy of Destination Reader.

  • Knowledge of an extensive and rich vocabulary through Mrs. Wordsmith.

  • An excellent comprehension of texts.

  • The motivation to read for both study and pleasure.

  • Extensive knowledge through having read a rich and varied range of cross curricula and classic literature texts

At Millfields we want all of our writers to have:

  • The ability to write fluently and with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum. We achieve this through a cross curricular thematic approach to the teaching of writing.

  • A vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing.

  • A highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend detail and description.

  • Well organised and structured writing, which includes a variety of sentence structures

  • Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.

  • A love of writing and an appreciation of its educational, cultural and entertainment values.

At Millfields we want all of our communicators to have:

  • An exceptional talent for listening attentively so as to understand what is being said.

  • A rich and varied vocabulary that gives clarity and interest to conversations.

  • Clear speech that can be easily understood by a range of audiences.

  • An excellent grasp of the rules used in English conversation, such as tense and the grammatical structure of sentences.

  • A delight in initiating and joining in conversations

  • Respect for others when communicating, even when views differ.

The English Curriculum

The English curriculum is designed to help pupils form an English schema within their long-term memories.

Schema theory states that all knowledge is organised into units. A schema is, therefore, a conceptual system for understanding knowledge.

Our English schema is a way of organising English semantic and procedural knowledge in a meaningful way; it is an appreciation of how facts are connected and the ways in which they are connected.  It is distinct from information, which is just isolated facts that have no organisational basis or links.

Big Ideas help form the basis of the schema. Big Ideas are key concepts that underpin the subject. There are three Big Ideas in English:

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Communicating

Each Big Idea has facets of knowledge (knowledge categories) which help to strength the schema. Learning knowledge in each of the categories allows pupils to express and demonstrate their understanding of the Big Idea.

These Big Ideas are returned to over and over again so the pupils gradually build understanding of them. They are taught in a cross curricula way so that a contextual understanding helps children to be immersed in a knowledge rich environment.

They are returned to through a range of lessons including:

  • RWI (early reading programme)

  • DSR (post early reading programme)

  • DR (KS2 reading programme)

  • Literacy (writing and composition)

  • Handwriting

  • Class Reader

  • Home Reading

The Big Idea of Reading

Pupils are taught to decode and have speedy recognition of familiar words through the programme of RWI. Click here for more information on RWI

Developing pupils’ comprehension skills happens once children can confidently decode and are graduated onto our DSR programme in Year 2. Here children, read widely across a range of texts and respond to these texts. This allows pupils to increase their vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech and to develop knowledge of the world in which they live in.  Once in KS2, children are exposed to the pedagogy of becoming critical readers who question, clarify, predict, infer, evaluate, summarise and make connections - a vital, role in helping to develop the reading schema.

In addition, reading tasks and carefully planned questioning helps develop the pupils’ ability to answer literal comprehension as well as being able to read for meaning and show an appreciation of reading.

To further promote pleasure for reading, the school has a fantastic library which is accessible to all pupils. The library contains a diverse range of books which are updated annually. Literacy and other subject lessons are planned to make use of the library and opportunities are available for pupils to use the library in their spare time. Reading buddies and lunch time library club are a few examples of how the library is used to enhance the pupils’ enjoyment of reading.

People who support reading at Millfields

The Big Idea of Writing

Writing at Millfields helps develop pupils’ competencies in two key areas:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting) and

  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

Carefully planned, regular writing opportunities also allow the pupils to develop their writing stamina, ensuring all pupils can write at length. Every 2 weeks the pupils are given the opportunity to write an extended piece for a range of real purposes and audiences and to practise specific transcription and composition skills.

The pupils are given opportunities to develop their ability to think aloud, explore and collect ideas, draft and re-read their writing as it forms.

Pupils are also taught the importance of proof-reading and monitoring their own writing to make sure it is effective.

Each year, pupils embark on a several whole school writing projects. The outcomes of these projects celebrate progression in writing across the school and are completed in their writing profile books.

The Big Idea Of Communicating

Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that the pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Pupils are provided with opportunities to develop their spoken language though meaningful talk opportunities from the early years through Tales Toolkit.

The curriculum is developed to ensure opportunities for drama based activities and role play wherever possible.

We take part in ‘No Pens Day’ Wednesday annually to promote rich language communication for all children in our school.

Whole-class debates, partner work, group work, reading aloud for performance or fluency are also included at every purposeful opportunity.

English across the curriculum

English is fully embedded in a meaningful, age appropriate way through a careful planning of texts that match the theme of each year groups termly topic.  Pupils get to rehearse, apply and consolidate their learning in all other areas of the curriculum. Careful planning ensures pupils continue developing all areas of English in other subjects.

Visitors and Workshops


We strongly believe that trips, visitors and workshops are highly valuable for developing a deep understanding of the Big Ideas in English and bringing the subject to life. We are constantly looking for new experiences that will enrich the learning of our pupils. Previous enriching experiences have included:

Storytelling workshops at Homerton library

Story Writing workshops with the Ministries of Stories

Visits from local authors

Visits and workshops at Hackney Library

Shakespearean drama workshops

Plus, all trips, visitors and workshops linked to other subject areas help                                          support children’s comprehension of the world around them.

English at Home

There are lots of ways you can help support your child at home with English.

  • Talk to them! The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child and listen to them when they are talking to you. Try to extend their vocabulary range and their skill at talking in increasingly more complex sentences. For example, try to teach them alternative words for ideas, or nouns they already know.

  • Read to them and always discuss the story you are reading to try to build your child’s comprehension skills and understanding.

  • Listen to your child read every night. Find a quiet time to hear your child read and use lots and lots of praise to encourage them.

  • Encourage your child to record their writing in a variety of ways. They may wish to keep a diary, write a story or send a postcard. Support their ideas and give plenty of encouragement!

  • Support your Y2-6 child in learning their weekly spellings.

  • Make use of your local library. Children love going to the library and having access to such a huge, diverse range of books.