The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
The English curriculum at St Mary’s is structured to provide pupils with the tools to use reading, writing and the spoken word to express their ideas. It will draw on the wider curriculum to ensure that the skills are relevant to all their learning and life beyond the classroom. The curriculum has been developed so that pupils return to different genres over the years, building up skills each time.
A daily literacy lesson is when the majority of reading and writing teaching takes place although we place emphasis on exporting literacy skills into different subjects, making links explicit to deepen pupils’ experience. Literacy learning deals with language at three different levels:
A key aspect of our teaching of literacy is the understanding that these skills underpin much of the wider curriculum. The importance of a high level of vocabulary for accessing the broader curriculum, not just in primary but throughout our pupils’ education and beyond, means that this is an explicit focus across lessons.
We believe reading is central to learning and pupils are able to access a range of high-quality texts via the school’s library with a web based borrowing system in which they can browse, research, learn and enjoy books. Reading for pleasure and information is paramount. Comprehension skills are taught as part of the Talk for Writing strategy as well as in stand-alone lessons. Activities are undertaken by the whole class, in groups or individually with differentiation taking into account individual needs and flexibility for younger children.
Initially on entry to school, phonic sounds are systematically taught using the Phonics Bug programme. A core reading scheme is used to ensure that children are reading books which cover the phase of phonics being taught. Record books accompany a child’s reading book so parents and teachers can record comments and monitor progress daily. Children have regular group reading sessions in which they are either guided by the teacher or work independently on book related tasks.
We use the Accelerated Reading scheme for pupils from Year 2 and upwards. At its heart, Accelerated Reader is simple: a pupil reads a book, takes an online quiz to assess their understanding and gets immediate feedback. Our pupils respond to regular feedback and are motivated to make progress with their reading skills. Pupils who achieve 100% on their quiz are entered in to a termly draw and can win a book to take home. At the start of the academic year and at the end of each term, pupils take an assessment test which sets a personalised book band. This, along with the monitoring of children’s quiz results, is a powerful assessment tool for teachers, ensuring that children are accessing appropriately levelled books.
We plan our learning using the Talk for Writing strategy. Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular genre orally before reading and analysing the structure. Once they have internalised language patterns, children are able to innovate using their own ideas and experiences. In this way, pupils across the ability spectrum can develop the confidence and skills to express themselves effectively.
Teachers make the most of any opportunity to provide an enriched English curriculum, using author talks, competitions and national initiatives such National Poetry Day and World Book Day.
As children travel through St Mary’s, they will have developed a joy of reading high quality texts and the ability to access information and opinions via the written and spoken word. Children will be able to communicate their ideas both in fiction and non-fiction, using model texts to help them shape their ideas and for them to have the confidence to apply their skills across the curriculum. By using cold and hot writing tasks, teachers and pupils will see their progress against key objectives. Moderation within school and between schools will ensure that judgments are secure. Most importantly, success will be seen in the confidence that the children have for sharing their passion for books and writing.