At St. Mary’s CE School, we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills in order for children to ‘Shine as Lights in the World’. Through our English curriculum, we endeavour to provide children with the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language and equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners. We want all children of all abilities to experience a rich variety of literature that will challenge them, build their vocabulary, enhance their understanding of written and spoken English and stimulate their creativity.
The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit 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
These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links are woven into the other lessons (such as Science, History and Geography).
Phonics (EYFS to Year 2)
Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme.
We teach pupils to:
- Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
- Read ‘tricky’ words on sight
- Understand what they read
- Read aloud with fluency and expression
- Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
- Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
- Acquire good handwriting.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘tricky words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.
Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible, developing confidence and skills in decoding so that they can comprehend. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
English Curriculum (Year 2 to Year 6)
Other English skills are taught through our scheme ‘Literacy and Language’ which children move on in Year 2 once they have completed the Phonics programme. Teachers use units from this scheme to support and enrich the English curriculum.
The units taught through this ensure the national curriculum is covered. Throughout the programme, children are encouraged to explore implications in texts, rather than just look at ‘surface meanings’. Role play, discussion, searching for clues in texts are all built in to activities to develop children’s inference skills.
Literacy and Language units are taught alongside other English units. These may focus around a whole class text linked to the curriculum. We ensure a range of text types and authors are covered.
Writing tasks are planned to ensure children get the opportunity to use the techniques that are taught in their year group. Teachers will model this process and children will then work on writing their own texts based on what they have seen and read.
High level vocabulary is on display in classrooms which links to topics and English units. Children are encouraged to use this in their writing.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in Upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
Termly assessments are used to see where children are working at age-related expectations and helps teachers to identify those children who are not on track. Every teacher at St Mary’s has high expectations for all children and we have children achieving at a greater depth in reading and writing at the end of KS1 and KS2.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards continue to improve and reading skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects.
Marking of work at St Mary’s focusses on whole class feedback and identifying misconceptions promptly. Children are given feedback on what they have done well in their work and what they need to do to improve further. Children are encouraged to edit and improve their own work based on advice given by their teacher or their peers.
We hope that as children move on from St Mary’s to further their education and learning, that their creativity and passion for English travels with them and they continue to shine as lights in the world.