ENGLISH AT ST NICHOLAS OF TOLENTINE PRIMARY SCHOOL
In our school, English is taught as Phonics, Reading and Writing.
Phonics is primarily taught in EYFS and KS1 but Reading and Writing lessons happen in every year group.
At St Nicholas of Tolentine, we believe that offering a high quality English curriculum will enable children to become fluent, confident and articulate communicators who can read, write, listen and speak confidently and enjoy doing so! These skills are applicable to not only English, but are also fundamental to learning across the curriculum and into wider life. Our Reading and Writing lessons, based on high quality children's books, are linked so that vocabulary explored in Reading can be transferred to Writing lessons.
We aim to ensure that all children at our school:
- Read for pleasure- widely and often. This involves knowing ‘classic’ children’s texts as well as contemporary texts that are diverse, representative and written for the current generation of children.
- See themselves as readers and writers
- Enjoy knowing a wide range of contemporary and classic children’s texts and authors
- Can read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- Write fluently, articulately and can adapt their writing for the audience and purpose
- Develop a rich and broad vocabulary
- Have a good understanding of age-appropriate grammar
- Can speak clearly and confidently to groups of people
- Can listen to others, discuss ideas and explain clearly their own thoughts, opinions and ideas
Through reading, writing and speaking opportunities offered in English lessons and linked across the curriculum, we aim to help children to build a broad and rich vocabulary that allows them to communicate with accuracy and clarity and understand the world better. This is done by exposing children to a rich vocabulary, explicitly teaching tier 2 and 3 vocabulary in context, and embedding this in our curriculum.
As well as following Unlocking Letters and Sounds, all children at our school will have daily reading lessons linked to their writing lessons. Based around a quality children’s text, children will be given the opportunity to ‘play’ in the story and gain a strong understanding of not only decoding, but the elements that make up comprehension. Skills such as retrieval, inference, prediction and summarising are taught sequentially and through a mapped-out range of age-appropriate text types. By teaching reading in this way, children develop the skills necessary to make them confident and enthusiastic lifelong readers who will build empathy, laugh out loud, learn about the world, make inferences, absorb vocabulary and form (and reform) their own beliefs and convictions.
In Key Stage 1, children will take home a ‘banded book’ alongside their decodable phonics book. These banded books are based on the Reading Recovery ‘Benchmarking’ levels that children are regularly assessed upon until they progress through the scheme to become ‘free readers’. We place enormous value on 1:1 reading both in school and at home; all of our children read regularly 1:1 thanks to our supportive team of adults and volunteers. Every child is given a reading diary for home to school reading-related correspondence. We also have a Reading Recovery Teacher who works with some Key Stage 1 children. Within the school day, time is always made for free reading to allow children to try out, and explore new texts. Our school library and classroom book corners are well stocked with high quality children’s texts, with more contemporary books from a range of text types regularly being added so that all of our readers are catered for.
We believe that Reading and Writing are intrinsically linked. Children’s writing lessons are connected to and inspired by the rich texts that they are exposed to in Reading lessons; this provides a stimulus for writing- giving opportunities to reinforce the language, experiences, content and, if relevant, text type. Our approach is inspired by CLPE’s ‘Power of Reading’ and adapted for our own curriculum, context and children.
Speaking and Listening
We are always striving to improve speaking and listening by modelling prosody, rich vocabulary and listening skills. This is a key part of English, with the curriculum containing poetry, spoken word, non-fiction texts alongside picture books and other fiction. Children have the opportunity to see this modelled during daily story times, assemblies and in the many events we have been lucky enough to host at our school, such as plays and talks from visitors.
Children and visitors can usually spot what teachers and classes are reading if they have a look around the school!
Reading is built into our school day through regular 1:1 reading with adults linked to a child's home reading, personal reading time, story time at the end of the day, phonics and reading lessons and finally reading through the creative curriculum.
In April 2022, we began to implement our new Systematic, Synthetic Phonics Programme, Unlocking Letters and Sounds. All staff have had full training in this new scheme and work closely with Mangotsfield English Hub to regularly develop our practice.
- Phonics is taught daily in EYFS, Year 1 and the first 2 terms of Year 2, with regular interventions to support individual pupils.
- At the end of Year 1, children sit a Phonics Screening Check, comprised of 40 decodable real and 'alien' words. Those who do not pass will receive extra intervention throughout Year 2 and beyond.
- Children who are learning phonics take home a 'decodable' reading book to develop fluency with sounds they already know. This is in addition to their benchmarked level reading book.
Reading and Writing lessons
Each term, every class will be reading a high quality text that links in some way to the curriculum topic. As they read this book, the children will be encouraged to play in the text and explore it using their imagination. Vocabulary, subject knowledge and inspiration from these reading lessons provide the fuel to write a range of text types during their Writing lessons. For more detail on the two approaches we use please see below:
Our school library
We regularly buy new books for our children and have been lucky enough to receive grants from organisations such as the Foyles Foundation to help with this. Each term, our teachers have the pleasure of reading a new batch of books that have been ordered for the school before passing them on to the children. We passionately believe that all children should see themselves represented in stories of all types and keep this idea in mind when choosing books for our library, to read as a class and when inviting in authors.