At St Mary’s we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading and writing and give the children opportunities to develop articulacy through discussion. We recognise that reading is a key life skill which enables a child to maximise their learning potential. We aim to foster a love for reading and to develop all important comprehension skills. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of genes and contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to use discussion to communicate and enhance their learning.
We believe that a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum, is crucial to a high-quality education and will provide children with the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum, which provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers ensure that cross curricular links are woven into the programme of study. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
• read easily, fluently and with good understanding
• develop the habitat of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
• acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
• appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
• write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style, in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
• use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
• are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At St Mary's we teach systematic synthetic phonics using Pearson Bug Club phonics. Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent. Children start to read words by blending the sounds together to make a word. Children are taught to apply the skill of segmenting words into phonemes to spell and that blending and segmenting is a reversible process. We do this through daily teaching sessions in Reception, year 1 and year 2 alongside integrating phonics in cross curricular activities throughout the day.
We identify children who need support and provide reading intervention in both Key Stage 1 and 2. We also run a Reading Buddies club for Year 1, run by the Head teacher and supported by our Year 5 children. We plan whole class reading as part of the curriculum where Reading VIPERS is a vehicle for teaching reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. We employ whole class reading, however, children will continue to be heard individually on a regular basis where there an identified need. In addition, guided reading sessions are used to support small groups who need additional reading support, within each class.
In Key Stage 1, the children will practise their reading with a teacher or experienced teaching assistant 3 times per week. All children are asked to spend 20 minutes reading at home, every night. In Year 2 and Key Stage 2, as the children are ready, we use Accelerated Reader to encourage children to read and to help us monitor each child’s reading. We expect that children will choose from a wide variety of books at an appropriate level and to cover a range of genres and authors.
Accelerated Literacy is an intervention that has been used in Key Stage 2 to support those who require additional support for reading. It has been quite successful in improving children’s reading. Reading Rockets supports those in Key Stage 1 as an intervention.
Some children are supported by Nuffield Early Language Intervention: NELI in Early Years who are identified as needing support. NELI targets vocabulary, narrative skills, active learning and phonological awareness.
We have an ‘Author of the Month’ in order to bring knowledge of different authors and their books to our families. Author of the Month is available to parents, both via the website and the school newsletter.
We run parent information sessions for phonics and reading for Early Years Foundation Stage parents, each year. We also run sessions for Year 2 and Year 6 parents so that they are able to understand age-related expectations.
We use EdShed as a spelling scheme, which is proving popular with the children and their parents. It encourages children to practise and apply spelling strategies at home. We have a weekly spelling test and spelling patterns are learned. Children’s spelling success is celebrated in the classroom each week.
We love to celebrate the success of all learners and strive to help all children achieve their goals. The subject of English is celebrated throughout the school where our bright and colourful displays celebrate children’s writing across the curriculum. Reading achievements are regularly a feature on the newsletter. Pupils often receive Star Pupil Awards for reading achievements.
Each year, we celebrate World Book Day, by dressing as book characters and sharing our love of reading in a special assembly where we share our love of reading and our favourite stories. We also benefit from drama group visits and Young Shakespeare Theatre Company, who are professional actors who involve the children in participating in the plays.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained interest and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and thoroughly taught in both key stages, the vast majority of children are becoming more confident writers by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2. Most genres of writing are more are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.
Day-to-day assessment of each child’s achievements helps inform each teacher’s planning for individuals. Progress is formally assessed on a termly basis in each attainment area of the subject. Each year, the vast majority of pupils meet the standards at the end of each key stage, whilst some achieve at greater depth in reading and writing. All children have their progress discussed at termly pupil progress meetings and strategies are put in place for those who may not have made as much progress as expected.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum. Writing skills are transferrable and applied across the range of subjects taught. Thus, children get opportunity to consolidate and deepen their understanding of how and when to use specific vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills.
We hope that as children move on through the year groups at St. Mary’s and eventually on to secondary education, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop.