English teaching at St Mary’s & St Pancras follows the National Curriculum framework.
The Power of Reading:
At St Mary & St Pancras, we believe that literacy is a fundamental life skill as it develops children’s ability to communicate effectively, preparing them to deal with a range of real-life situations. Through high quality English lessons, we teach children to express themselves articulately using both spoken and written language and ensure they understand how to transfer these skills across the curriculum and to other real life situations.
We use Power of Reading, a CLPE programme, as a vehicle to deliver the National Curriculum. Texts are carefully chosen from the CLPE core book list to match the needs and interests of each year group. Children engage with high quality picture books, novels and non-fiction. They are immersed into the text through a wide range of interactive and cross-curricular teaching approaches including:
Responding to illustrations
Only small pieces of text are shared at a time, building suspense and excitement for learning. This enables development of a wide range of reading strategies, including prediction, inference, questioning and analysis. Children take ownership of the text and engage with it creatively and deeply as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of a range of text types. Whilst developing a love for reading, these texts inspire children to write creatively with a sense of audience and purpose.
We aim to teach our children to express themselves clearly and confidently, matching their style to the audience and purpose. Children are expected to speak in full sentences; this is encouraged and modelled by all staff. They learn to listen and respond to literature and develop the skills needed to participate effectively in a range of situations. Ways in which we do this include:
Recounting events and experiences
Drama (including a Shakespeare Project in Y5, Creative Court workshops in Y6)
Talk partner work
Whole class discussions across the curriculum
Philosophy enquiries (P4C)
Debating (including whole school questions)
Class performances to the school.
The National Curriculum for English places reading at its core and asserts that all children must be encouraged to read widely across a range of subjects for information and enjoyment. At St Mary & St Pancras, we promote and value reading as an enjoyable activity and a life skill by:
Choosing engaging and challenging core texts as the basis for units of work
Engaging book corners in classrooms
A school library accessible to all
Daily guided reading sessions
Engaging phonics sessions
Reading aloud and discussing books
Visiting the library
‘Bedtime Stories’ mornings
Engaging in National Literacy Trust projects e.g. Young Readers Programme
Celebrating World Book Day
Planning regular opportunities for children to use library books, laptops and iPads for research in other areas of the curriculum
Guided reading sessions
Key Stages 1 and 2 have daily guided reading lessons lasting for 20-30 minutes. Throughout the year, children are exposed to a range of texts/genres pitched at an instructional level. Classrooms are set up as ‘Reading Carousels’ with all children engaging in meaningful reading tasks.
All teachers and support staff work with groups of up to 6 children during this time leading well planned guided reading sessions where they study a shared text with a clear learning focus. High quality discussions based on targeted questions encourage children to think analytically and inquisitively about their reading.
Independent groups engage in meaningful reading tasks providing suitable challenge which deepen their understanding of a text. Follow up tasks are broken down into the following categories:
Word level session with a focus on developing vocabulary
Sentence level session with a focus on deepening understanding of syntax, sentence structure, figurative language, meaning of phrases etc
Text level session with a focus on understanding of the text as a whole. This could be in the form of bespoke questions about the text extract, or as a response task such as writing a diary entry.
EYFS and Key Stage 1 may also include use of the Listening Centre.
Synthetic phonics is taught in discrete daily sessions of 15 – 20 minutes thoughout EYFS and Year 1, following the Letters and Sounds teaching programme. Its aim is to secure fluent word recognition skills for reading by the end of Year 1. The programme teaches children to link sounds to specific letters and read words by putting sounds together in order. It also helps them to spell by breaking down words into their separate sounds. Links to phonics learning are made in all other curriculum areas to encourage children to apply their knowledge in all reading and writing opportunities.
Phonics interventions for a minority of children continue into Year 2 and sometimes Key Stage 2 to ensure all children can decode, segment and blend sounds confidently.
At St Mary & St Pancras, we look for ways to inspire and motivate children so that they see themselves as writers. We establish the purpose and audience for writing and make the learning journey explicit throughout our Power of Reading units so that children know why they are studying a particular text type, the skills and knowledge they will develop, and what the expected outcome will be. Real experiences and events are used as much as possible to make writing opportunities as meaningful as possible.
We provide a range of writing opportunities and levels of support including; shared, modelled, guided, collaborative, paired and independent writing. Children write in a variety of genres and forms, in different curriculum areas and using a wide range of stimuli. Writing is usually modelled and success criteria is shared or agreed with the children before they start writing to ensure they know what they need to do to be successful. Children are taught to take responsibility for assessing whether they have achieved the criteria and what they need to do to improve their writing. They are also taught to plan, draft, edit and publish their writing. Quality marking and feedback informs children of their next steps, to which they respond with purple feedback pens.
In addition to daily English lessons, children produce a piece of extended writing once a week. This task may be linked to any area of the curriculum. The session begins with teacher input, modelling of writing and high quality discussion after which children engage in the creative writing task completely independently. This provides a valuable opportunity for children to apply the writing skills they have been learning. Throughout the year, tasks include a range of purposes and genres and are based on a variety of stimuli including characters, film, images, music, real-life experiences and texts.
Grammar and punctuation is embedded in English teaching (both reading and writing), following the National Curriculum framework. This ensures that children have a solid understanding of grammatical rules in context of real text and can apply them accordingly. Classrooms are language rich learning environments appropriate to the age and needs of the children. High quality vocabulary and scaffolds for grammatical concepts are displayed around classrooms and children are encouraged to use these.
In addition to coverage in English lessons, we use the No Nonsense Spelling scheme as a basis for teaching spelling patterns and strategies to Years 2-6. We aim to equip children to spell fluently through a developmental process of investigating patterns and learning to apply a range of strategies appropriately. We use explicit, interactive teaching which draws children’s attention to the origins, structure and meaning of words and their parts, the shape and sounds of words, the letter patterns within them and the various ways they can learn these patterns. In order to study words like this we have to take them out of context for the specific teaching of spelling. We believe that this is best achieved little and often and through stimulating, multi-sensory activities and games.
Children take pride in the presentation of their work and are taught following the Nelson Handwriting programme. Key Stage 1 classes practise daily and Key Stage 2 classes three times a week. The script used in school (NTprecursive) provides a model for the children. We maintain high expectations for presentation of all work in all subjects as well as quality of writing content. A ‘Golden Pen’ award is given to one child from each class every week during Celebration Assembly to commend effort in presentation.