1. Learning & Support
  2. Curriculum
  3. English


The English curriculum at St Mary's is structured to provide pupils with the tools to use reading and writing 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 to ensure that pupils return to different genres over the years, building up skills each time.

Daily literacy lessons is when the majority of reading and writing teaching takes place although we place emphasis on exporting literacy  skills into different subjects and link learning where we can. Literacy learning deals with language at three different levels:

  • Word Level (phonics, spelling and vocabulary)
  • Sentence Level (grammar and punctuation)
  • Text Level (comprehension and composition)

A key aspect our teaching of literacy is the understanding that these skills underpin most of the rest of the school curriculum.  The importance of a high level of vocabulary for accesssing the broader curriculum, not just in primary but throughout our pupils' education and beyond, means that this is an explicit focus across lessons. 

We plan our learning using the Talk fror 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 is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. By embedding langauge patterns this way, pupils across the ability spectrum are able to develop skills and confidence.

Children will read many types of texts and undertake a wide range of writing in different styles to enhance their powers of self-expression and skills as communicators. Activities are undertaken by the whole class, in groups or individually with some differentiation taking into account individual needs and flexibility for younger children. Where possible the lessons are linked to other areas of the curriculum through the learning journey.

We believe reading is central to learning and so invested in building a new library with a web based borrowing system in the  in which children 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, to ensure that there is a clear understanding of purpose and audience.

We also usesd the Accelerated Reading scheme for pupils of 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 enterered itno a termly draw and can win a book to take home. At the start of each term, pupils take an assessment test which sets the band of books from which to select. This, along with the monitoring of pupils' quiz results, is a powerful assessment took for teachers to monitor progress in the mechanics of reading and importantly, the frequency and range of books pupils select.

Initially on entry to school,  phonic sounds are systematically taught to the children with accompanying books. Then a core reading scheme, usually Oxford Reading Tree, is used, moving on to book selections graded per reading ability from which children can choose. Record books accompany the child’s reading book so parents and teachers can record comments and progress on a daily basis. Children have regular group reading sessions in which they  are either guided by the teacher or work independently on book related tasks.

A new style phonics test was introduced in June 2012 which tests how well pupils can decode by responding to a mixture of words and non words. Click here to read the DFE guidance for parents. 

We use Letters and Sounds as our core scheme and  Jolly Phonics actions as a supporting tool. There are lots of resources available to support your children at home. Click here to see the actions of each phonic sound that are shown below.

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 and will have the confidence to apply their skills across the curriculum. By using cold and hot writing tasks, teachers and pupils will see progress against key objectives. Moderation within school and between schools will ensure that judgements are secure. Most importantly, success will be seen in the confidence that the children have for sharing their passion for books and writing,