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English

'I love English because I love being creative and writing lets my imagination run wild.'

Ruby, Year 6

By the time children leave St. John’s CE Primary they will:

  • See themselves as readers and writers
  • Have a love for reading and read for pleasure
  • Be confident communicators, both orally and in writing
  • Be able to read a range of texts confidently and apply these skills across the curriculum
  • Have a love for writing and write for enjoyment
  • Be able to produce written work in all areas of the curriculum to a high standard
  • Be confident to write for a range of different purposes

 

Reading 

We recognise reading as a key life skill, which underpins access to the rest of the curriculum. We aim for children to read words and simple sentences by the end of Reception, become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and develop a lifelong love of reading as they progress through school. We are committed to enabling our children to become lifelong readers. We foster a love of reading, enriching children’s learning through carefully designed teaching during specific reading sessions such as Guided Reading as well as providing reading opportunities across the curriculum.

We understand that the development of confident readers is reliant on the core areas of: 

  • Phonics 
  • Reading Comprehension 
  • Reading for Pleasure 

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is taught daily from Nursery until KS1 at St John’s using the Letters and Sounds Phonics Scheme.

Children are also able to access fully decodable books from the Collins scheme, applicable to their level of phonic development. 

Children enjoy listening to adults read and develop a love of reading, gaining satisfaction from their growing success in developing independence and fluency. Across the school, children are exposed to carefully selected texts which are read to them by their teacher. In Early Years, this is part of daily story time and role play. Key Stage One and Key Stage Two pupils are read to during ‘class novel’ time. We understand the importance of talk and stories, and the critical links between these, especially the role stories play in developing young children’s vocabulary and language. We have a strong understanding of, and appreciation for, the importance of children reading at home. Close relationships with parents and carers provides the opportunity to strengthen the links between home and school.

Children have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them. As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres cultures and styles is enhanced.

 

Spoken language

The curriculum at St John’s for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers at St John’s ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others, and teachers ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils are also taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.

All pupils are enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils are able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. The development of oral confidence is underpinned by the use of the Storytelling Schools method from Nursery to Year 6. 

 

Writing

At St. John’s CE Primary, we strive to help our children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, who are well-equipped with the basic skills they need to become life-long learners; English learning is key in this. We aim to ensure all of our children develop a genuine love of language and the written word, through use of the Storytelling Schools method, alongside the use of high-quality texts across the curriculum.

Careful links are made across the curriculum where meaningful, to ensure that children’s English learning is relevant and that skills can be applied in context. We ensure that children develop an understanding of how widely writing is used in everyday life and, therefore, how important and useful the skills are that they are learning.

Our intentions in writing are for children to:

  • Write for a purpose
  • See themselves as real writers
  • Take ownership of their writing
  • See writing as an interesting and enjoyable process
  • Acquire the ability to organise and plan their written work

Our whole curriculum is shaped by our school vision which aims to enable all children, regardless of background, ability, additional needs, and to flourish to become the very best version of themselves they can possibly be. We teach the National Curriculum, supported by a clear skills and knowledge progression. This ensures that skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all children.

The Storytelling Schools method is a dynamic and creative approach to learning. The main idea is simple: by learning to tell stories and make verbal presentations, children develop great oral communication skills while mastering the language and ideas they need for subsequent writing. This systematic approach is used for both fiction and non-fiction teaching across school from Nursery to Year 6, as well as for subject specific projects across the curriculum.

We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader. Particular attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English: grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling. Teachers clearly model writing skills with a focus on audience. Children have opportunities to write at length, in extended, independent writing sessions.

 

Spelling

At St. John’s CE Primary, spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions within each class. Learning to recognise the high frequency words on sight is crucial in developing fluency and accuracy in reading and then writing. Some of the high frequency words are referred to as ‘tricky words’, as the children are unable to use their phonic knowledge to decode every part of the word. Once children are confident in reading and spelling high frequency words and with the application of phonics, they are taught spelling rules and are encouraged to apply these rules in their writing. Class teachers use The Spelling Book by Jane Considine to support with the teaching of spelling. This includes daily and weekly spelling activities that are built on the fundamentals of teaching spelling with strong phonic foundations. This provides a structure for introducing key concepts that pupils will be meeting that week alongside proven methods to increase retention, enabling pupils to make fewer mistakes when applying their spelling knowledge.

 

Assessment 

 

Children’s progress in phonics is continually reviewed through periodic phonic assessments and evidence from their reading and writing and contributions in phonics sessions. Through these, teachers identify the graphemes and areas of application that need to be addressed, which then informs groupings and future planning. In Year 1, the national Phonics Screening Check is undertaken to confirm that the children have learned to decode to an age appropriate standard and this also determines what level of provision they will require the following year. Across school, regular assessment of the children’s decoding and comprehension is undertaken through PM Benchmarking but this only forms part of the teacher assessment of reading. Staff use observations, reading journals, English books and recordings of pupils’ contributions in individual, group and whole class guided reading sessions, alongside formal reading assessments such as Pixl and SATs tests, to form an accurate and holistic picture of each child as a reader. Using a variety of approaches to assessment ensures that all pupils, including SEN, are not disadvantaged by the means of assessment.

In writing, children are assessed primarily with reference to the independent writing they complete during their English cycle, but also across the curriculum. The ongoing teacher assessment of writing informs planning and the next steps for pupils. Attainment in writing is measured consistently throughout the year. At three assessment checkpoints, progress is tracked, using the ‘One Education’ writing statements, which have been taken from the National Curriculum and link to our progression documents. For those children who have yet to access the Year 1 statements, pre- key stage statements are used. Regular moderations take place to quality assure judgements made and to support the development of school staff. These are either in house, or as part of a cluster of local schools. At the end of each key stage, teachers assess a selection of pieces of writing to inform reported teacher assessment judgements. Exemplification materials are used to support the judgements made.

The English subject leaders are assured of the accuracy of the judgements made through moderation and professional dialogue with staff, through observation and by reviewing evidence in books and on Seesaw, by speaking to children about their work and by reading with children.

 

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