English

English: At St Margaret Mary's RC Primary School, we believe that language and literacy is fundamental to the overall development of children and their access to the curriculum in all its aspects. In the society in which we live, an ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing and to read a wide range of texts is essential if children are to achieve their potential throughout their school days and into their adult life.

We follow the 2014 National Curriculum for Literacy and other guidance to enable quality teaching and learning to take place and there is regular monitoring of English across the school year to ensure standards are of a consistently high standard.

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding;
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information;
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;
  • Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;
  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas;
  • Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Reading: Becoming literate is one of the key priorities in any child's education. At St Margaret Mary's we aim to establish a love of reading for all pupils, who will not only read for necessity, but because they enjoy it; reading for pleasure has been proven time and again to be one of the highest indicators of accelerated performance in children. Therefore we see learning to read at St Margaret Mary's as a gateway to higher learning.

Commencing in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), basic phonic strategies and decoding skills are taught daily in order to establish a firm foundation upon which to build in Key Stage 1. The EYFS team ensure that children receive a thorough grounding in phonics up to stage six, and maintain a strict record of daily and individual readers.

The programme of study for reading at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (both listening and learning)

All pupils have access to a range of reading experiences at school and are exposed to high quality stories, poems and not-fiction texts.

In Key Stage 1, reading continues its importance and begins to be more formally assessed with a continuation of rigorous phonics teaching up until Year 3. The children begin to develop their analytical skills through reading comprehensions and are encouraged to love books through stories and books read by the adults. Additional support for reading and phonics is available through intervention booster groups which run throughout the school.

In Key Stage 2, we encourage the children to progress with their reading through a variety of activities across the entire curriculum, including word problems in Numeracy lessons and research in topic lessons. There is access to reading comprehensions both in school and for homework, with a guided reading session for each child once per week. This enables the class teachers to carefully monitor the children's progress, and the children are encouraged to become more independent with their reading and reading records, particularly in upper Key Stage 2. This is supplemented by termly assessments which again help the class teachers monitor the progress of the children.

Writing: At St Margaret Mary's, we believe that the mastery of written language is one of the most powerful gifts that we can provide to our children. We feel that writing should be purposeful, rich and enjoyable for all and have successfully implemented the "Talk for Writing" model. This model makes explicit the thinking involved in the writing process so that it can be internalised and applied in the pupils' writing. There is a strong emphasis on speaking and listening because we feel that if children cannotspeak a sentence, then they cannot write a sentence. The programmes of study for writing at Key Stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading: 

  • Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

Pupils are taught to plan, revise and evaluate their writing to maximise quality and there is a strong emphasis on audience and purpose. Pupils are also exposed to regular, high quality grammar teaching that serves to enhance the quality of their writing and their understanding of the processes of writing. This is done through lesson starters in Key Stage 1 and skills sessions in Key Stage 2.

Each child has two pieces of assessed writing each half term and this allows teachers to regularly monitor progress and identify strengths and areas for development. In addition, enrichment activities are planned throughout the year to enhance the pupils' love of writing. These include: visits from authors, writing competitions and creative starters to literacy units that hook the pupils' imagination.

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