At St Gregory’s, we believe that a high quality education in English will allow our children to live life to the full. An effective English curriculum enables our children to speak, read and write fluently so that a two way process of communication can take place. It allows our children to express themselves to others and to gain an understanding of God’s wonderful world.
Our aim is to provide a curriculum that will allow our children to:
Speaking and Listening
- Speak clearly, fluently and confidently to different people.
- Listen with concentration, understanding and respond appropriately to others.
- Use the vocabulary and grammar of Standard English.
- Adapt their speech to a wide range of circumstances and demands.
- Develop the skills of questioning, debate, argument and speculation.
- Articulate their ideas and thoughts.
- Have excellent phonic knowledge that will enable them to decode words.
- Become confident and effective readers who are able to read fluently and for pleasure.
- Use a range of strategies to interpret, analyse and evaluate a variety of texts.
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, selecting appropriate reading materials.
- Experience a diverse range of texts.
- Extend their range of vocabulary.
- Develop a positive attitude to writing.
- Be confident writers who organise and structure their work grammatically and coherently, applying accurate punctuation and spelling.
- Adapt their style and language for different genres to suit the audience, purpose and context.
- Be skilled in the art of planning, drafting, revising and editing their own writing.
- Be adventurous and sophisticated in their choice of vocabulary.
- Have fluent and legible handwriting.
Speaking and Listening
Developing strong speaking and listening skills is fundamental to the teaching of English at St. Gregory’s. Teachers place a high emphasis on spoken language and plan for the discreet teaching of skills as well as incidental learning opportunities. Our approach is based on teaching how language changes in different contexts. We believe children need to develop strong oracy skills to allow them to internalise language patterns and understand how language changes in different situations. This enables our children to understand and manipulate language for different purposes and audiences. To do this, teachers provide authentic contexts giving children opportunities to use a range of spoken language. Teachers provide a range of purposeful opportunities through role-play, drama and discussions. The strong emphasis on spoken language is evident in the Early Years and continues throughout the school; Key Stage Two take part in regular debates and discussions as well as drama and role-play. Teachers model the use of Standard English, increasing children’s repertoire of vocabulary and sophistication of spoken English. The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’ (p10)
Phonics and Reading
Early reading is supported through Read Write Inc., as systematic, synthetic phonics programme. Children have daily phonics sessions and are taught to apply their phonics skills and achieve affective blending through the RWInc. story books. Children’s progress in phonics is closely tracked and children are regularly assessed and re-grouped as appropriate. Home reading books are phonics based and closely match our phonics programme to consolidate the sounds being taught in lessons. Regular training and development days ensure that staff are equipped to teach with the expertise and skills required to promote excellent progress. Alongside and beyond these early books, children continue to have structured support for their reading through Rigby Star/Navigator series Oxford Reading Tree. This is supplemented by Project X and Sound Start to support our struggling readers.
When the children are able to decode and begin to read with some fluency, their comprehension skills are developed through daily whole class reading sessions. Teachers follow a clear and structured progression map of texts and VIPERS strands (see appendix). This underpins our teaching and learning and sets out the expectations for each phase in school, ensuring that every year group builds on prior learning. Lessons use class novels alongside a range of other fiction and non-fiction texts, some of which have cross curricular links. Our children are exposed to a wide range of challenging texts and question types, which are linked to VIPERS.
Our children are also encouraged to read for pleasure and to read widely. Throughout the year, we provide many enrichment opportunities including themed days, author visits and reading competitions. Every class has their own library area with a selection of books to provide quality reading materials for all children. These are changed on a regular basis.
Early writing is taught through early mark making, then when the children begin RWI phonics, they are taught the correct letter formations. This begins with writing (whether with a writing tool or in the air) cvc words, moving onto short sentences using the sounds they have been taught. EYFS children are encouraged to write independently during continuous provision. We use the same phonics program across the school providing continuity and a vehicle for guaranteed progression.
Across all year groups, we teach writing using a variety of stimuli; including high-quality texts (ranging from picture books to Shakespeare), artefacts, film clips, immersive real-life experiences (such as school trips, visitors and drama groups in school) and through subjects in the wider curriculum.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1, children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between in each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. All teachers model the writing process and demonstrate writing to a high standard. A writing ‘working wall’ is visible and used in all classes, it consists of the titles; Genre, Features, Vocabulary, Sentences and success criteria. This wall is interactive and continually added to throughout the English teaching cycle, it is used as a learning tool by the children.
By the end of Key Stage 1, children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This process continues into Key Stage 2, by which time children have mastered simple sentence structure enabling them to develop their writing style. As they progress towards Year 6, children are taught to write for a range of purposes – to entertain, inform, explain, persuade and discuss – using explicit sentence models (Alan Peat) and ambitious vocabulary. They learn to shape these sentences into coherent paragraphs before planning, drafting and editing their own original works of fiction and non-fiction.
Children begin with mark making and patterns in Early Years and progress through Key Stage 1 and 2 to develop legible, joined handwriting. When a child is deemed to have legible, joined writing they are awarded a pen licence.
Spellings are taught from Reception through to Year 6, following the National Curriculum’s statutory word lists as well as explicitly teaching spelling rules. Spellings are sent home as part of homework and children are assessed through dictation.