English is a core subject of the National Curriculum. All learning takes place through the use of language, both inside and outside the classroom. An ability to communicate effectively in both speech and written forms and to read a wide range of texts is essential if children are to achieve their full potential. Our school views the acquisition of language skills to be of the utmost importance and so the teaching of all aspects of English is given a high priority.
Parents are invited to Literacy Workshops in Foundation Class, Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2.
Speaking and Listening
Talking is a means of learning. In a balanced curriculum, opportunities for exploratory talk, where children shape thoughts in new ways, as well as presentational skills, where children present ideas that are already formed, should be stressed. Children need to be able to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose and they need opportunities to work in groups of different sizes.
St Michael’s C.E. Primary School recognises that effective communication can be achieved by focusing on activities based on purposeful language interactions. Purposeful talk is one of the major means through which children construct and refine their understanding of language. We aim to underpin all language activities with talk, as it is a vital part of the whole learning process and, therefore, cannot simply be developed in isolation.
Reading is not simply the decoding of marks on a page, but involves the ability to read, with understanding, a wide range of different types of genre including fiction, poetry, non-fiction and environmental print. In order that pupils become successful, enthusiastic readers, they need to learn to use a range of strategies to access the meaning of a text. This principle is at the heart of the National Curriculum for English. It enables the children to tackle texts from individual sounds upwards and from the text downwards.
Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in most other areas of the curriculum and is crucial in developing children’s self-confidence and motivation. Competence in reading is the key to independent learning and, therefore, the teaching of reading is given a high priority by all staff in our school.
The reading scheme is graded using the ‘Book Banding’ approach which means that children are afforded more choice about what they read which fosters an increased enthusiasm for reading in general. Children are encouraged, with guidance where appropriate, to choose their own reading book to take home.
Our reading scheme includes books published by Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club, Floppy Phonics, Sounds-write, Dandelion Readers, Collins Big Cat plus books from other publishers. Guided Reading books include Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cats, Read and Respond plus books from other publishers. The reading scheme is regularly added to in order to capture and retain the interest of our children. We have a range of books which supports the Letters and Sounds system of teaching phonics.
Parental involvement is encouraged in all aspects of school life and nowhere more so that in promoting reading among our children.
Parents are urged to share books and hear their children read at home. The reading record and planners are formulated with this in mind, enabling parents and children to make a written comment. We request parents listen to their child read on at least three occasions each week as a minimum requirement. Wherever possible, daily reading is encouraged. Where children are not reading regularly at home, teachers will approach parents to clarify why this is. Support and guidance is offered and given to parents who need support to hear their child read.
All children are encouraged to join the local library and representatives from the library are invited into school to talk to the children periodically or children are taken to visit the local library.
Each year group runs a reading workshop in the Autumn term aimed at supporting parents in the process of reading with their child.
Reading for pleasure is encouraged at St. Michael’s C.E. Primary School. This takes the form of membership of the school library, Junior Librarian scheme and Reading Champions. Where possible, buddy reading is encouraged with older, more competent readers supporting younger, less confident readers. The school regularly holds reading challenges whereby all children are encouraged to engage in reading in an interesting and imaginative way.
Our school views writing as a developmental process, so what each child is able to do at each stage is highly valued and praised. Children learn to write in order to be able to communicate meaning to a wide range of audiences. They are taught to match the style of their writing to the needs of their audience. Additionally, children are taught to structure their writing so that it is coherent and that correct spelling, punctuation and grammar help to make the meaning of their writing clear to the reader. Children are encouraged to develop as wide a vocabulary as possible so that they are able to express their ideas in writing and can engage the interest of the reader.
During KS1, the daily teaching of twenty minutes of phonics, spelling and ten minutes of handwriting complements the writing process and is used systematically to increase confidence and build up accuracy and speed. Throughout KS2, there is a progressive emphasis on the skills of planning, drafting, revising, proof-reading and the presentation of writing. The children also continue to work daily on autonomous strategies for spelling and correcting their own mistakes. Spelling is phased across the school with children working in differentiated groups according to their needs and abilities.
In both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, a weekly grammar lesson takes place in order to discretely teach the necessary skills to be incorporated into correctly structured sentences.
Handwriting is concerned with individual expression and the conveying of meaning through fluent composition. The principal aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process which frees pupils to focus on the content of the writing. In order for this to occur, handwriting is taught explicitly using a cursive script.
Good spellers are self-monitoring. If children are to develop as enthusiastic, independent spellers we need to teach them that there are a range of strategies they can use to learn to spell. As they progress, children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own spelling, to think about the strategies they use and to identify difficult words or areas of spelling for themselves. The ability to spell most words correctly is often closely associated with good self-esteem and affects performance in other areas of the curriculum and is, therefore, given a high priority at St. Michael’s C.E. Primary School.
Guided Reading is the method used to teach individual children to become fluent in reading and the comprehension skills of inference and deduction.
Children experience a daily lesson which is taught according to their individual needs, in small groups set according to ability. The teaching of Guided Reading is supported by a range of books including those published by Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat and Reading Respond.
Authors are regularly invited into school to work with children in order
to develop writing and performance skills.