At St. Mary’s, we are dedicated to inspire a love for both reading and writing through our English curriculum. It is our aim that children will then want to continue to read and write outside of the classroom and across other areas of the curriculum. We also aim to promote high standards of spoken language through the integral use of oracy throughout the curriculum as we recognise that developing a love of language in our children is vital in achieving success at school and later in life.
Writing and reading are at the heart of everything we do here at St. Mary’s. We aim to ensure that all children can read fluently with a good understanding and that we develop a love for literature through the promotion of reading for enjoyment across the school. Reading for pleasure is at the heart of Power of Reading. Within writing, we ensure that children acquire a wide range of vocabulary, an understanding of grammatical rules and that they can write clearly, accurately and coherently. They should then be able to adapt their language and style of writing for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. At St. Mary’s, we encourage a passion for writing and the development of creative pieces of literature. Through speaking and listening opportunities, we hope that children will be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas and that this will help to develop the children as writers.
Our English curriculum is designed to develop children’s knowledge and skills within both reading and writing in order to enhance and enrich learning across all other curriculum areas. The children are made aware that there is a key progression of knowledge and skills within English and are helped to develop these throughout their school career. At St. Mary’s, English is taught through a
range of quality and diverse texts covering all genres across the school. These texts appropriately challenge and excite all pupils: here are some examples of booklists that we select the texts from. Within class, discussions take place to extract key language, develop oracy and develop the understanding of how language is used. Through the studied texts, children explore different styles of writing and how authors write for a specific purpose and audience. Our pupils can then create their own written texts using the skills that they have acquired, not only in English but across other curriculum areas.
Across the school, teacher modelled reading of quality texts and the children’s understanding of the skills required to become a successful writer. The impact of English teaching is also measured across the curriculum through the children applying their grammatical knowledge within other subject areas, both orally and within written work. Children show that they can analyse and edit their own work as well as their peers, which shows a deeper level of learning.
Children at St. Mary’s are keen to participate in reading challenges and writing competitions throughout the school year, demonstrating their knowledge and love for English.
Pupils from KS2 are assigned a partner class in EYFS and KS1, and they read a story to their reading buddy every Friday before Golden Time. They perform dramas, dances and rhymes based on a given topic/text for special events.
World Book Day/Book Week
To celebrate World Book Day, we hold a House Cup Book Quiz, Character Parades and do a range of activities and competitions across the school.
Black History Month/National Poetry Day
Each year in St. Mary’s, we explore Black History and perform, learn and create independent poems inspired by Black poets, writers and change makers. For poetry day pupils submit and perform their own poems for our poetry competition.
We Are Writers
We are Writers is a collection of the children’s short stories from Nursery through to Year 6. All pupils were asked to submit for publication and we have some remaining copies, which are available from the school office.
We are so proud of all the children who contributed and of their achievements. Thank you to Ms Moriarty for driving this project so successfully.
Displays within classrooms showcase pupil’s learning journeys throughout a unit of work, new vocabulary acquired and working walls encourage children to share their ideas. The impact of English teaching at St. Mary’s will hopefully develop life-long writers and readers which will help children succeed in their future endeavours.
Literacy, or English, as it is more commonly referred to, involves key areas:
- Reading Writing
- Speaking and Listening Grammar
At St. Mary’s we are passionate about reading and we endeavour to make sure that all our children develop a love of reading and that every child leaves us as a reader.
The Power of Reading is a school development project which engages teachers and children in the literacy curriculum through using high quality books and proven teaching approaches. The project offers multi-layered professional development drawing on Centre for Literacy in Primary Education's (CLPE's) highly regarded classroom-based research and experience of working with teachers. The Power of Reading project combines the use of outstanding books for teachers and children with an approach to teaching the English curriculum that is creative, engaging and develops a love of literacy.
Teaching approaches focus on teacher modelled reading and include a range of activities including role play and drama, readers theatre, role on the wall, use of visual images and mapping etc.
In the Early Years, pupils are taught primarily through focused play activities. During the Reception year, pupils are gradually introduced to aspects of English and are introduced to Phonics, learning to read and write.
Although reading is taught using synthetic phonics, the programme is so much more than that. It covers all of the new National Curriculum requirements for language and literacy. All children in Key Stage 1 have daily phonics sessions, beginning with simple sounds and building up to more complex sound combinations. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading but it also helps children to learn to spell. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters. The children also practice reading (and spelling) words such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. We call these ‘red words’ because they cannot be sounded out phonetically. In these sessions, the children practice their reading with books that match the phonics and the ‘red words’ they know. They start to believe they can read, and approach the reading with a “can do” attitude and improves their confidence. The teachers read to the children, too, so that they are exposed to a range of texts such as stories, poetry and information books, building their vocabulary in order to help their writing.
As children move through the school, they are given more choice and take a greater responsibility for their reading. By the time the children leave Key Stage 2, we aim for the children to become fluent and reflective readers, able to tackle a wide variety of reading materials and to make good choices for their reading.
At St. Mary’s, we operate a home-school reading system so that children can take books home to read with an adult. We have a well-stocked library and each class has a reading corner library with age appropriate texts, which ensure that children have access to a wide range of material. Supporting your child with their daily reading is one of the best ways you can help them and encouraging them to complete a range of activities (art, poetry, reviews, diary entries, character profiles) in their reading journals.
Ideas for reading activities
- Book review of the text
- Write a description on what the main idea is, who it was written for (audience), why do you think it was written (purpose), and when it was published.
- Acrostic poem - from the title of the text or new vocabulary
- Character description - including pictures
- Poster advertising the text
- Rewrite the ending
- Retell the text in own words
- Positive and Negative points of the text (could be completed in a Venn diagram)
- Identify language features used in the text e.g., metaphors/similes, personification, alliteration, repetition etc
- Handwriting- take a short extract out of the text and practice your handwriting
- Create a new cover for the text
- New vocabulary - keep a list of all the new vocabulary found in the text
- Create a crossword/word search for the text
- Diary entry from one of the character’s perspectives
- Write a biography on the author of the text
These are just a few possibly ideas to complete in your reading journal. Remember to keep it fun, creative and tidy.
Here are some tips to encourage and support your child at home:
- Talk about the story and the characters as you go along.
- Visit the library and borrow books you enjoy reading together. Choose subjects your child prefers - factual books or stories.
- Look for words in everyday life, not just books. Read newspaper headlines, shop signs or menus in cafes.
- Make reading fun
- Try the Summer Reading Challenge
Writing is an important tool for learning and plays a vital role in all areas of the curriculum.
At St. Mary’s, children are given many opportunities to write for different purposes and audiences. We aim for a high standard of presentation, and the children follow a cursive style of handwriting throughout the school. Through our teaching we also provide time for planning, editing and revising and encouraging pupils, throughout the process, to read as a writer and write as a reader. Pupils have an extended writing outcome each half term where they publish an independent piece once they have learned the writing objectives for that specific outcome: narrative, script, persuasive speech, informational text etc.
At St. Mary’s, we want to make sure that every child learns to be a competent and confident speller. We take a structured approach and the children learn and practice not only spelling patterns, but also how they relate to the sounds, thereby giving them the building blocks to be able to spell almost any word.
Spelling follows the National Curriculum spelling rules and a new rule is assigned each week and the spelling homework includes a list of words that apply to the given rule. Spellings will be tested each Friday.
Speaking and Listening
Pupils are encouraged and helped to talk clearly, confidently and with expression in order to communicate their ideas and feelings. They are taught that, to become effective listeners, they need to be attentive and concentrate. Opportunities to develop these skills include presenting to an audience, class discussions, role play and following instructions.
We believe in the importance of children mastering spoken and written literacy skills. Learning to understand the structure of the language is seen as integral to the development of reading and writing skills.
How to help your child: We teach the Grammar curriculum throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and have been asked by parents how they can help their children with this aspect of English. One way of achieving this is to become familiar with the terminology used in the curriculum and to use this with children whenever an opportunity arises. With this in mind, we have discovered a fantastic 'Jargon Buster' which gives explanations of all of the terms used together with examples.