The English learning area includes the teaching and learning of Language, Literature and Literacy. Students learn about language and how to use it effectively. They develop an understanding of the ways in which language operates as a social process and how to use language in a variety of forms and situations. They learn to speak, listen, view, read, write and create effectively.
The teaching of English involves recognising, accepting, valuing and building on children’s existing language competence, including the use of non-standard forms of English. Learning programs combining both explicit teaching and time for children to practise and consolidate their learning.
At Burrendah Primary School, there is a strong emphasis on phonemic awareness. Students in Kindergarten to Year 2 receive daily phonemic awareness instruction using the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Program. The Letters and Sounds approach to phonics is used in the early years (from Kindergarten to Year 2) and students in Years 3 to 6 use the Sound Waves spelling program to focus on spelling. Both programs focus on teaching the relationship between speech sounds (phonemes) and the different ways they are written (graphemes) in the English language. This forms the basis for correct spelling in writing.
English is presented in literacy blocks where the strategy of guided reading is a priority. Burrendah students are involved in small group reading activities which target the needs of the individual students and explicitly teach comprehension strategies for successful reading. Assessment of student reading is conducted using the SPARKLE Reading Assessment in the early years (from Kindergarten to Year 2) with a focus on using decodable readers to support students in the early years. PAT-R Reading is used to assess reading comprehension and track students’ progress between Years 1 and 6.
A range of strategies are used in the teaching of writing, including First Steps, Talk For Writing (Kindergarten to Year 1) and the Seven Steps to Writing Success (Year 2 to Year 6) in the middle and senior years. Brightpath, an assessment and reporting software, is used for moderation, assessment and reporting in Writing.
A stimulating print rich environment is provided by all teachers to further support students’ literacy development. The children are encouraged to read, write and speak from Kindergarten. High expectations and structured learning and teaching programs ensure success in this priority learning area.