At St Mary’s CE Primary School, we ensure that pupils secure their key skills in English through exciting and engaging learning opportunities.
As a school we want our children to be enthusiastic, confident and lifelong readers, and if they are to achieve this, not only must we teach them the key reading skills but also foster a passion for reading! We celebrate and provide rich reading experiences at every available opportunity, so that all our children develop a love of the written word. Through the school’s promotion of reading, pupils are able to confidently explore and discuss texts in detail.
In the Early Years, pupils begin by exploring books with their peers and their teachers, using their understanding of phonics to begin the early stages of reading. Like all our classrooms, our Reception class is a language rich environment, and pupils are able to select from a range of exciting texts and engage in learning opportunities to further deepen their understanding.
The foundations established in the Early Years are built on as the children move into Key Stage One. In these year groups, teachers deepen pupils’ learning and enjoyment of texts by using a variety of questions to focus their understanding of the themes and characters presented. A range of rich texts are used, so that pupils use of vocabulary and enjoyment of reading is heightened. The breadth of our curriculum ensures that pupils have access to a wide range of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
Here at St Mary’s we use a variety of strategies to support the teaching of reading, as all learners are individual and therefore can require different approaches to secure their skills. In recognition of this, teachers use a variety of decoding skills such as phonics and picture cues to ensure all pupils become competent and confident readers who enjoy the written word.
Independent reading books support children at an individual level, are carefully chosen by teachers to aid and challenge our pupils. We use a variety of different materials and stimulus to enable our children to develop a love of reading. Our independent reading stage books provide pupils with opportunities to engage with both fiction, poetry and non-fiction materials. In addition to independent reading, and from the end of the Early Years, all pupils have the opportunity to work in small groups with a member of staff to participate in Guided Reading. This provides pupils with further opportunities to explore challenging texts, discussing their themes to deepen their understanding.
During guided reading sessions to develop comprehension skills, children are taught using an approach called VIPERS. This ensures all the skills that are required to be an effective reader are specifically taught. These skills include vocabulary, inference, prediction, explaining and sequencing/summarising.
Our Phonic teaching happens on a daily basis and is taught in small groups, so that it is reactive to the changing needs of learners. Our Phonics programme begins in the Early Years, as soon as the children are settled and ready. Phonics teaching then continues into Key Stage One, when the children have to complete the statutory assessment at the end of Year One.
At St Mary’s, we use the Read Write Inc programme to ensure the progressive development of skills, so that pupils can decode effectively. In their English sessions, pupils are provided with the opportunity to develop and embed these key skills.
As a school we recognise that reading is fundamental to the writing process, as children can only write successfully if they have a full understanding of the features of specific genres. Therefore, there is a strong emphasis on using children’s knowledge of texts type and language to promote good writing skills. Through exciting contexts and stimulating experiences, children are actively encouraged to develop their own style of writing. Throughout the school, visual stimulus and drama are used to inspire children’s imaginations to write. To support the writing process, teachers model examples of effective writing, so children can learn the process that will enable them to become highly skilled writers. The use of good vocabulary, chosen for effect, is highly encouraged and the children have opportunities to apply these skills throughout the curriculum.
Our pupils’ understanding of sentence structure and grammar is an important feature of the children’s learning in English. In recognition of this, punctuation and grammar is taught discretely and embedded into every aspect of the children’s learning, so that they have every opportunity to refine and enhance their skill in this area.
Weekly spellings are progressive throughout the school and focus on firstly securing common year group spellings, before moving on to understanding the core spelling rules that are required to enable pupils to work out adventurous spellings.
We strive to ensure that all our pupil’s books reflect the highest of outcomes and we recognise that neat presentation is an important skill. Therefore, we have a whole school approach to handwriting, which is the cursive script. Support is provided for parents, so that they can actively encourage their child with this at home.