British School of Brussels

Our Literacy Tree journey began four years ago when we decided that we wanted our English curriculum to be firmly rooted in high quality children’s literature. We are a large international school, catering for students of over 70 nationalities, many of whom speak English as an additional language. In addition to this, the school has a transient population with many students only staying two to three years so it seemed vital to have an English curriculum that would excite and engage the children, and give them a context for their grammar and vocabulary skills. The Literacy Tree seemed to fit the bill perfectly. We were even more convinced when Lynn and Anthony delivered our first set of CPD, showing us the power of teaching grammar through a text as well as giving invaluable individual planning support. It is rare that training is so practical, individualised and easy to put into practice almost immediately. 

The clear and detailed planning sequences are another huge advantage of the Literary Curriculum. This solid foundation gives teacher the time to consider how to personalise the learning to the needs of particular classes, as well unleashing enormously imaginative ‘hooks’ into a book. We have seen parts of the Iron Man strewn through corridors, huge snowy footprints and clues that King Kong has been in the vicinity! Pictured here is a display using 'Flotsam'.

Engagement has improved immensely, the children are more confident in applying grammar that they have learnt and have produced some excellent writing outcomes. Another exciting development is that the French teachers in the school’s bi-lingual programme have also been inspired to use class texts in a move away from more formal, discrete teaching of grammar and vocabulary. Lynn is pictured here working with our French teachers.

After another informative training session with Lynn and Donny, we are currently working on fully embedding the Literary Leaves as part of our reading curriculum. The wonderful Eric by Shaun Tan proved a huge success in Year 2 as did Neil Gaiman’s ‘Fortunately, the Milk’ in Year 3. Through discussion and written responses the children demonstrated a level of understanding far exceeding that usually demonstrated in the traditional guided reading carousel. You can see our display using the The Polar Bear Explorers' Club below. We are very much looking forward to exploring more of these exciting texts.

A special mention should also be given to the Learning Logs which helped improve our English provision during the recent ‘lock down’ period. The Dragon Machine in particular inspired some super home learning from our Year 2s and it was wonderful to see such enthusiasm from both children and parents. 

Corinna Bliss

Curriculum Leader for English

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