At St. Mary's, developing pupils’ English skills is at the heart of the curriculum. Through an integrated approach of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, pupils are given the opportunities to learn new skills and consolidate them within a broad range of exciting contexts.
From the Foundation Stage onwards, language development and communication skills are a key priority. Children are motivated to use and apply new vocabulary and grammar structures by exploring them through real life contexts, learning to become fluent speakers and having numerous opportunities to practise their letter formation, phonics and writing skills. Whilst in the Foundation Stage, children are immersed daily in a wide range of quality stories, rhymes and non-fiction texts, in order to develop their love of books and reading.
In Key Stages 1 and 2, all classes have a daily English lesson, which develops key phonics, reading comprehension and writing skills in line with The National Curriculum 2014 for English. Planning aims to develop these skills in a fun and meaningful way, writing for a range of purposes and audiences. Children are taught to plan, draft, edit, improve and evaluate their own writing and others; this process is underpinned by fun and purposeful grammar activities which explore children’s understanding of the English language and teach them to up-level, and play with new vocabulary. The link between reading and writing within English lessons is made explicit: planning follows the reading to writing process, giving pupils plenty of opportunities to become emerged in rich, quality texts and to read critically as both a reader and writer.
In addition to their daily English lessons, children have basic skills sessions, focussing on the teaching of spelling rules and handwriting. Upon completing the phonics programme, children then begin the Spelling programme which follows the same principles and teaching strategies that children have previously used in their phonics lessons. Through their lessons, they learn new spelling patterns, which they then take home as part of their weekly homework to practise. There is also a big emphasis on children learning to read and spell high frequency words accurately.
Overarching our entire curriculum, is our desire for every child to become an enthusiastic and fluent reader therefore every opportunity is given for children to develop their knowledge of different authors and genres in order to foster a life-long love of reading.
In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, children are taught to read through the ‘Read Write Inc’ Programme which teaches through a systematic and fun approach. Following on from this, in Key Stage 2, children take part in reading lessons where they learn a range of decoding and comprehension strategies appropriate to the stage at which they’re working. During these lessons we aim to give children access to a wide range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts, including a termly novel which they can take home to enjoy.
Other opportunities for Reading enrichment include weekly use of the School’s newly stocked and refurbished library and encouraging children to use their class book corners. In addition to this, the school participates in events such as ‘World Book Day’, ‘One Book Week’ and ‘Dahl Week’.