ENGLISH CURRICULUM

Reading

Reading is a key aspect of all children’s learning and is given high priority, especially in Key Stage 1 where we are teaching the fundamentals of reading. We use the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme alongside THRASS to teach the basics of reading. Children in Key Stage 1 have dedicated phonics sessions daily and the success rate in the Year 1 phonics test is very high. We aim for children to leave our school reading fluently and with enjoyment.

The new English curriculum for reading places a great emphasis on ‘reading for pleasure’. We encourage children to do this by taking part in nationwide initiatives such as Roald Dahl Day, Readathons and World Book Day.

In class, the children are exposed to a wide variety of texts. This includes classics from British literacy and heritage literacy, contemporary fiction as well as books from other cultures.  The children also have a range of comics, youth newspapers and journals to read.  All children have the opportunity to visit our school library at least once weekly.

We expect parents to read with their child on a daily basis. In KS1, children who read at least five times a week are celebrated with being awarded a Rainbow Reader certificate. If this reading continues at home they are presented with a free book at the end of term. We work closely with parents to ensure they are equipped to support their children by offering reading information evenings.

In KS2, reading is taught through a whole class approach. Specific reading skills are taught through the use of RIC starters and games. RIC stands for the three most important skills of retrieval, interpretation and commenting on the author's choice of vocabulary.

In KS1, Guided Reading sessions are a planned part of the weekly timetable alongside shared and individual reading. During these times children take part in discussions about books, develop new vocabulary and learn higher order reading skills.

Children who have difficulty with reading are quickly identified and are given extra support.

Phonics

Children gain a solid grounding on which to base all literacy skills through the thorough teaching of phonics.  The 'Letters and Sounds' programme is used as a framework for this.  Children are taught and assessed on a half-termly basis throughout their time in Reception and Key Stage 1.  THRASS (Teaching Handwriting and Spelling Skills) also supports the teaching of the 44+ phoneme-grapheme knowledge and is a multi-sensory approach.  Children enjoy learning the many songs and rhymes and about the THRASS key picture location.   

 Writing

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed into:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

Pupils at St James’ are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.

We use a range of talk for writing techniques, such as grammar and punctuation games in quick starters and storytelling, which enable pupils to orally rehearse sentence structure, develop and build upon their vocabulary base and deepen their knowledge of stories.

Whether through writing a story for the ‘500 Word Story Competition’ or writing a poem for World Poetry Day, children are able to apply skills learnt through exciting contexts. We use a range of film clips and multi-modal texts to engage the children and give them an exciting stimulus for developing writing.

Pupils are regularly assessed to see where the gaps in their learning are; they are then taught the skills they need, through guided groups and high quality first teaching. Pupils then write an extended piece of writing each week, giving them a valuable opportunity to apply the skills they have learned and revised. Teachers' mark extended pieces of writing in depth so pupils’ clearly know how to improve. Pupils respond to marking using green editing pen. They are taught how to edit their writing, making improvements such as correcting spellings. They use their editing skills to help peers improve their writing too.

Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Pupils' are taught about all aspects of grammar and punctuation in lessons. This usually takes place in context.

Children at St James’ are taught and use cursive handwriting script. When children are proficient at handwriting in a cursive script they are awarded a pen license, which celebrates their success and drives up high standards in handwriting.

Speaking and Listening

Pupils at St James’ are taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness with which they are able to communicate across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. Pupils therefore have opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class. Pupils understand how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates. Teachers' regularly use drama as a way to engage pupils as well as developing their speaking and listening skills. Drama activities often feed into children's writing, giving them a deeper insight into the thoughts and feelings of certain characters.

 

Spelling

In Reception Class, children learn to spell through THRASS (Teacher Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills).  This is a multi-sensory approach which also supports the developing of reading and handwriting.  Children learn the format of the THRASS chart which helps them to link their phoneme-grapheme correspondence and to locate key spellings.  This is then used as they progress through the school to support spelling. 

Each year group is assigned a selection of spellings rules to be introduced, rehearsed and perfected throughout the year.

These words have been identified as some of the most commonly used and most frequently misspelt in children’s writing. Teachers in years 1 and 2 ensure that these words are able to be correctly spelt by pupils by the time they leave KS1.

For years 3, 4, 5 and 6, there is a statutory word list of 100 words per phase, which must be learnt thoroughly. These, as with the common exceptions in years 1 and 2, have been found to be the most commonly misspelt words by primary age children. Classes 2 to 6 regularly teach spelling using the No Nonsense Spelling scheme. This spelling scheme breaks the national curriculum up into year group sections. Children are taught various spelling strategies enabling them to learn the spelling of all age appropriate words.

When weekly spellings are set, they will include some words which illustrate and rehearse the spelling rule or pattern chosen and also some words from the statutory lists or common exceptions.

Grammar, Vocabulary and Punctuation

Each year group has also been assigned statutory guidance relating to word, sentence, text level work, punctuation and certain terminology in which the children should become proficient.

Though they are assigned to be introduced in a particular year group, unlike the statutory spelling rules, the children are not expected to fully grasp and put these skills into practice within the year, but that they should be well introduced and then built upon in following years.