English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
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 will therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils will develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They will be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers will ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils will also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.