Writing Curriculum Leader: Miss R Stretch
Reading and Phonics Curriculum Leader: Miss E McMillan
At St Michael’s Primary School, English and the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum. Our main aim is to ensure every single child becomes primary literate and progresses in the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening.
At St. Michael’s CE Primary School we believe that reading is a key life skill and is the foundation of our curriculum. Reading feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds. It is the fundamental pathway to achievement for all. This begins with a language rich, creative and purposeful Library fuelled by an appreciation of varied literary and cultural heritage. By ensuring children are primary literate, we are enabling them to be lifelong, fluent readers who can draw upon a range of strategies in order to comprehend the complex world around them to ultimately succeed and flourish. Additionally, we strive to enable all of our children to form good reading habits thus developing a love of reading for pleasure. Our children will then be able to fully engage and competently evaluate a wide variety of high-quality texts whilst forming and developing their own opinions.
Staff at St. Michael’s feel it is pivotal to highlight and be aware of the differing groups of learners and vulnerable children in their class. Once this information is acquired, teachers can plan and teach personalised English lessons which focus on the particular needs of each child. We recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group and progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure every child can celebrate success.
English at St. Michael’s will not only be a daily discrete lesson, but is at the cornerstone of the entire curriculum. It is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, using digital literacy, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children at St. Michael’s will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
When the new curriculum was implemented in 2014, many professionals commented that the creativity had been eliminated and children were expected to be taught a diet of very dry grammar and punctuation skills. At St. Michael’s, our vision is for the creativity to be at the helm of our English curriculum and for children to learn new skills in a fun and engaging way. Through our English curriculum children are taught in a logical sequence that includes grammar, comprehension, speaking and listening and writing opportunities that lead to a final piece of writing. As part of this sequence children are expected to apply taught knowledge and complete incidental pieces of writing throughout. This ensures that all of their English learning is meaningful and allows them to apply their learning in a variety of ways and through a range of genres.
With these aims in mind, a daily session of English for all years from 1 to 6 is incorporated into the morning for 1 hour. This ensured that English was explicitly taught every day and that each group of children had time with the teacher, in a guided comprehension session, once a week. Vulnerable groups could be highlighted and support staff could be used to support these groups further to ensure progression and specific year group skills were secure. Additionally, children have explicit whole-class guided reading sessions at least 3 times weekly. Resources to support and enhance these lessons were distributed to staff so that all staff felt proficient and skilled in delivering these sessions effectively e.g. using VIPERS questions stems to ensure effective coverage of the content domains. With a structured timetable of learning tasks being sequenced throughout the week, children are not only learning comprehension skills but also independence, a love of wider reading and exposure to rich vocabulary, which is absolute key in all sessions for all learners.
Reading is not only celebrated in classrooms at St. Michael’s, around school and within classrooms you will find displays which celebrate authors, children’s favourite books and we have reading reward schemes in place each half-term. In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author and poet visits, parent reading workshops and a range of trips and visits which enrich and complement children’s learning.
As we believe consistency and well-taught English is the bedrock of a valuable education, at St. Michael’s we ensure that the teaching of writing is purposeful, robust and shows clear progression for all children. In line with the new national curriculum, we ensure that each year group is teaching the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for that age groups. As well as teaching the objectives, teachers are able to embed the skills throughout the year in cross-curricular writing opportunities and ensure that most children are achieving the objectives at the expected level and that some children can achieve at a greater depth standard. In this sense, assessment of writing is also more fluid as teachers can assess against a set framework. All year groups use the same format for assessing writing which have been produced in line with the end of Key Stage assessment frameworks as published by the Department for Education.
In order to expose children to a variety of genres which helps to utilise and embed the writing skills, teachers use a specific sequence and genre to plan, structure and teach their English lessons. This journey is designed to show progress, teach the pertinent year group objectives, apply and consolidate these skills and develop vocabulary. Writing is taught through the use of a quality texts and digital literacy, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation. Each text is purposefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. Children will leave St Michael’s having a love of reading and a set of core reading skills that will enable them to understand and live successfully in the diverse world around them. They will have enjoyed a breadth of reading material empowering them to form individual opinions that they can express coherently. They will use their reading skills as a catalyst to access all areas of life so that they can achieve their dreams. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for reading and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
With the implementation of the English sequence being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
If you have any questions regarding the curriculum we teach, please contact the relevant leader directly or the the office staff and they will pass your enquiry on to the relevant Curriculum Leader.