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St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary School

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English including Phonics

“Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Jesus, Matthew 4.4

English Subject Intent Statement

 

Speaking & Listening is integral to all learning and is a priority here at St. Thomas'. Oracy underpins the development of all learning, including learning to read and write. Listening skills are continuously taught from EYFS, as is confidence and competence in spoken language. A strong focus is needed on communication skills including: the ability to use and understand vocabulary; express ideas and pose questions. From the outset, parents are valued as key partners, whom we seek to support; their influence on their child’s success is unquestionable. Pupils are taught to explain their understanding of books and to prepare their ideas before their write. As pupils progress through the school, they consider their audience and purpose and adapt the content and formality accordingly. Such skills are carefully planned through the English curriculum (and beyond), including challenging and progressive vocabulary. 

Reading at St. Thomas of Canterbury is the cornerstone of our school curriculum; it provides the passport our children need to fully embrace and succeed in their future life. We ensure that every pupil, from entry in the nursery, benefits from quality first teaching, timely intervention (as required) and most importantly the opportunity to foster a life-long love of reading.

The systematic teaching of phonics following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, provides the building blocks for word reading and is therefore prioritised and well-resourced. We strive to ensure that all children are fluent decoders by the end of Key Stage One. We believe the art of reading should be treasured by all so we make sure that no child is left behind on their phonics learning journey. Daily and precise systematic synthetic phonics is taught through interactive and engaging sessions; which allows a positive learning culture for all children to thrive! All pupils at St. Thomas' are on the reading journey at their level. 

Fluency is the next focus to ensure speedy and accurate reading. This increases the children's skills but also their confidence as a reader. Pupils read and then re-read appropriately pitched texts, following the Little Wandle Fluency Scheme,  to develop their accuracy, prosody and confidence. 

Pupils are then taught to understand and connect with the content, systematically taught comprehension skills are vital. Staff follow a cohesive approach, led by our bespoke comprehension guidance. Beyond direct teaching, we provide an abundance of opportunities to use the skills of reading to access learning in other subjects and indeed in life. Our outstanding library helps to promote a love of learning with our pupils. Parents can share this wonderful experience daily after school.   

Writing is a powerful means of communication which builds on the spoken word. This vital skill is necessary to allow pupils to function, engage and contribute within our society. Speaking and listening are key facets of learning, where pupils can rehearse what they are going to write about and discuss in depth what they have read. Consideration is given early on to the physical demands of writing, including gross and fine motor dexterity. Time must be dedicated to developing the correct formation of letters – a skill which is not easy for young children. A range of key habits, including posture and pencil grip, must be established and sustained so that handwriting becomes fluent and effortless. Pride in all written presentation is promoted and valued at all times. Further to the physical representation, children must grasp the meaning behind letters, words and sentences, and grow to experiment with their use. Key concepts alongside this, include the teaching of spelling and grammar. These aspects are taught discretely, then applied into writing. These systematic lessons are designed to support all pupils, including bilingual pupils (as they are exposed to the rules of the English language) and SEND pupils.

Pupils are taught to think about who they are writing for, and what the purpose of the writing is. This ensures that writing is not simply for the teacher, but is meaningful - a skill to use across the curriculum, into secondary school and beyond. Our curriculum promotes a ‘writer’s ear’ – this is to encourage children to take ownership of their writing, building upon their reading skills as they proof read work, and edit and improve.

A tangible love of reading and writing is promoted throughout the school. Practitioners expect the highest of standards, in a supportive manner. Growth mindset runs alongside this, encouraging a ‘can do’ attitude by all.

Speaking and listening, reading and writing are taught every day here at school. Units of work are written by our skilled teachers and thoughtfully take account the needs of all pupils. Lessons are exciting and purposeful, and structured to ensure children make progress in their learning. 

Expectations in English - The National Curriculum focuses on the mastery of the skills of reading and writing. Reading includes decoding the text as well as comprehension. Writing includes handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation. During English lessons, learning is often linked to other areas of the curriculum so that children can bring and apply this knowledge from other subject areas, such as history. Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing are a priority here at St. Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary. The strands of English run throughout the day in all areas of the curriculum, from Nursery through to Year 6. 

OFSTED recognised this excellence. Visit our Homepage to watch the Ofsted video clip!

 

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Speaking and Listening activities are at the centre of teaching and learning. Adults model how to speak and interact in all areas of the provision. Children gain confidence speaking in many different contexts, including: performing poems, drama and role play, weather reporting, sharing weekend and holiday news and much, much more! This focus on talk follows through into Key Stage One, where children develop and use their speaking and listening skills across all curriculum subjects. Within English, this continues to include, poetry, drama and role play, oral composition ahead of writing and performance. Within Key Stage Two, this repertoire continues to expand to include: critical discussion, engaging in debate, giving speeches, performing plays. Oracy is a key focus within English lessons, the wider curriculum and beyond. We aim to empower pupils with the skills and confidence needed within school to learn but also as they progress beyond education. 


Our children's reading journey begins at home on the laps of their parents; we support all families to foster a love of reading and to provide their child with a healthy diet of books from a very early age. Parents are invited to come and observe Story time in the Nursery class and begin taking home weekly 'Lending library' books (complete with guide sheet for parents) from the very start of the Nursery year. Throughout EYFS, staff nurture the children's love of reading through daily story time, Book Talk, storytelling/performance and the class book corner. Children's language development is a huge focus when selecting the texts to use; only the best is good enough! Staff link texts to the topics children will encounter and this helps pupils to access and understand on a much deeper level. Book choice continues to be central to our curriculum across key stage one and two. 

 

 

 

Phonics provides the gateway for children to start to read for themselves. Our school adopted programme for the teaching of Phonics and Early Reading is  ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’; a government approved synthetic phonics program.   Nursery begin by following 'Little Wandle Foundations' program. Here the children are exposed to Nursery Rhyme activities, phonological awareness and oral blending games, that lay the best possible foundations in Nursery to begin Phase 2 Phonics in Reception.
 

As children move towards Reception, our highly-trained staff begin the systematic teaching of letter to sound correspondence. Lessons are taught daily and are complemented by reading practise sessions. One to one and group intervention are provided to ensure all children ‘keep up’ with the pace they need to become a reader. Children have access to an array of reading challenges within their classroom provision giving them the opportunity to apply what they know. From Reveption onwards,  books are assigned via our Collins E Library so pupils can practise and celebrate their reading progress at home. Alongside this, a story book is provided twice a week for parents, carers or siblings to read TO their child, helping to support children’s language development and love of reading. 

 

The Little Wandle program continues very successfully throughout Year 1. In Year 2, we aim for all children to make a pivotal transition from 'learning to read' to 'reading to learn'. Every child is unique, so early identification of children who are not on track to meet this goal is key. Staff identify any barriers such as SEND needs, English as an additional language, or pupils new to the school or country. They set about tailoring the teaching of phonics to meet the needs of the individual child and accelerate learning where possible. 

 

Reading Fluency bridges the gap between phonics and comprehension. The Little Wandle Fluency Scheme begins in Year 2 (or as the child completes the phonics programme). The teaching of 'fluency' allows each child to become automatic and fluent as a reader. This accuracy improves their understanding of what they are reading, increasing their confidence and desire to read more. 

 

Reading Comprehension is the next component focus of reading, once the pupil is applying their phonic skills with accuracy, fluency and prosody. Texts are carefully chosen to ensure they are of a high quality, include excellent vocabulary, promote diversity and are progressively challenging. They often allow us to enhance the cultural capital of our pupils, where perhaps life experience may be limited. A Reciprocal Reading approach is introduced in key stage one and is then embedded throughout the teaching of reading. The children learn to 'predict, clarify, question then summarise' as they read or are read to. This enables pupils to fully access a text with a good level of understanding when reading in any area of the curriculum and beyond. Vehicles to enable this enjoyable and memorable learning include regular Reading for Pleasure sessions, Storytime at the end of each day, daily Guided Reading in groups, journal tasks and a weekly Reading Comprehension lesson. 'Know a novel' is the name of our book-led writing curriculum. A high quality novel enriches writing lessons; comprehension is explored naturally as the class share each book in full. Across all foundation subjects, children's reading comprehension is both applied and enhanced when accessing subject specific texts, a skill which prepares children for learning in key stage 3. 

 

Click the link below to find out more about 'Reading for Pleasure' at St Thomas of Canterbury

 

The children at St. Thomas' love their writing lessons! They say they are, "exciting" and they "enjoy writing new things" and "like using description in their stories".

Writing in the EYFS begins with the development of the pre-requisite skills, including the physical development of gross and fine motor skills. Children are encouraged to mark-make within different environments and to understand that marks have a meaning. Letter recognition and then formation is taught systematically. The letter size and positioning is then refined, alongside the understanding of phoneme to grapheme correspondence. 

Handwriting is a daily focus and priority. This continues to be refined into key stage one and then letters are joined in early key stage two. Pupils are advised 'in the moment' and all staff are skilled at noticing and correcting errors if a child needs help.

 

Writing lessons allow the children to express their ideas, opinions and imagination in written form. Lessons are well-planned by our teachers, and cater for the learning needs of all pupils.  'Know a novel' is an exciting approach to our English writing curriculum. Each class will read an array of listed books from Nursery into KS1. This progresses to at least three full novels each year in KS2. Children will learn about the story plot, the range of characters, the language choices of the writer, and indeed the writer's style.  Pupils are taught to consider the audience and purpose for whom they are writing. 

Writing involves the transcription skills of handwriting and spelling, which are taught as separate skills. The rules of grammar are taught systematically as the composition of writing develops and becomes more complex. 

The children write for a purpose so that the tasks are meaningful and enjoyable. This may be linked to their topic or class novel. The Lancashire Learning and Progression Steps are followed to guide the small steps in learning. The teachers scaffold this learning so that all pupils can access each lesson and feel confident as a writer.  

 

Reading

The importance of being read to, and becoming a reader is the very essence of our English curriculum. We use high quality books to enrich and empower our pupils and to help them engage with and learn about the real word, as well as entering into the wonderful world of fiction and poetry. We aim for all children to become fluent readers before they reach the juniors, and prioritise and resource the teaching of phonics and wider reading skills to enable this to happen.

 

Inclusion

Here at St Thomas, the uniqueness of every learner is valued. Lessons within English, as with every subject, take careful heed of individuals' starting points, as well as any specific learning needs, be they common or complex. Lessons are adjusted and adapted to help secure the best possible learning outcomes for all. We realise that not tailoring the lesson correctly can be detrimental to pupil's confidence and self esteem and can inhibit progress of any kind. We make every effort to make learning both accessible, challenging and successful for all.

 

Character Development

The English curriculum is a powerful tool in shaping our pupil citizens to have a voice, both spoken and written, and to come to realise how literacy will not only enhance their own life, but also give them the ability to be a voice for justice and change in the world.

Children learn to be ambitious in their approach to new teaching and understand that getting things wrong is part of everyone's journey of learning, development and growth. The learning climate in English lessons promotes a 'can do' attitude and constructive feedback from staff and peers helps to foster resilience and determination to succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The documents below are taken from our Early Years Curriculum and show learning relevant to the subject of English. Each overview contains the key skills and knowledge from Birth to Five, including the Nursery year labelled '3 to 4 year olds' and 'The Reception Year'. 

All aspects of Communication of Language - How children learn to tune in, build understanding of vocabulary, develop their own vocabulary, grow in their understanding of instructions and explanations, develop their ability to speak, discuss and express themselves. All of the above is key to their own Personal, Social and Emotional development and their success in all academic subjects, including English.

 

Many aspects of Personal, Social and Emotional Development are key to children's ability to engage with and comprehend the feelings and actions of characters in books. To identify or empathise with a character, a child must first learn to do this within their own experiences and relationships with others.

Physical Development, including gross motor skills to begin with and later fine motor skills, pave the way for children to physically make and refine marks and for this to progress to the formation of the individual letters, which then become the building blocks of sounds, words and sentences.

Learning within Literacy encompasses the skills and knowledge children from Birth to 5 develop in Word Reading, Comprehension and Writing

Understanding of the World within the EYFS is one way in which children grow in their understanding of the world around them; such knowledge of events, cultures and concepts becomes a vital part of their 'prior knowledge' when trying to comprehend texts.

Local Poet, Elayne Ogbeta, visits St Thomas of Canterbury

World Book Day 2023

WE LOVE BOOKS! Today we celebrated our favourites books by making a mask of a character. The children enjoyed celebrating the different book characters, explaining why thy chose their particular character. Thank you to the children and parents who took part. 

Celebrating our favourite characters

Scholastic book fair! November 2022

Thank you so much to everyone who came to the book fair. We managed to raise around £90 for school and lots of children bought exciting books to get their teeth into!

Silver Stories 

Our Y5 pupils are working as 'Silver readers' for our 'Silver listeners' who are older members of our community. Each week they speak on the phone. The child reads a short story to the listener.

 

This is having positive outcomes for both the children and the adults! We hope to role this out with other classes soon! 

World Book Day 2022

Reading is vitally important here at St. Thomas'. We know it enhances life chances and so we do everything we can to develop all children into a being a strong and confident reader. We thank you for your support in listening to your child read every night. A love of reading is also key. So, it was a delight to be able to celebrate World Book Day again together! Children across the school came dressed their pyjama’s for our ‘Bedtime Stories’ theme.

 

Our youngest children enjoyed a hot chocolate whilst listening to a story; just like bedtime. The infants paired up to share a book with a partner from a junior class. Also, classes visited our wonderful school library to listen to a story or a poem. The children (and staff) enjoyed a range of book activities in the comfort of their pyjamas.

 

Thank you to everyone who took part. Each teacher chose one winner who has impressed them with their attitude to reading or with the effort and progress they are making with reading. They received a certificate, book and badge prize from Mr. Deane. 

Children in Reception, who have spent the past half term immersed in the wonderful story ‘The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson, were treated to a surprise visit on the morning of World Book Day! Four beautiful owls and their handler arrived to share a special workshop, expanding on the children’s knowledge gained from the text and answering the children’s own questions.

World Book Day 2020

Anyone with a Salford Library card can access BorrowBox to borrow e-book and e-audiobooks for free during the school closure - why not encourage your child to try it while the libraries and schools are closed?

Access to Borrowbox can be found by following the first link below. Just sign up using your normal library membership number and PIN. The service is completely free and has something for everyone! If you know of anyone who isn’t currently a library member but would like to use these services they can join instantly by clicking the second link. 

Please find below a document containing some links for your child to continue their English learning at home during the Covid-19 school closures. Some can be accessed independently and others will need some help from an adult. The majority are free to use but there are some paid ones too. Enjoy!

Please take a look at the Oxford Owl free eBook collection via the link below, developed for children aged 3-11 years old. Many of the books are the same ones we have in school that are sent home with children in their reading diaries every day.

For as long as schools are closed, Audible are streaming 'an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids'. Best of all - it's free! Check it out using the link below.

Parents and carers joining their children in the Reception classes for morning reading time!

Visiting the library as a family

Formative Assessment

Throughout the English lessons, the teachers are trained to continually assess the understanding of each child. They can then help to support any misconceptions and develop understanding in a different way. Another child may be set a challenge to deepen their understanding. This way of assessing is integral to the curriculum, ensuring that all pupils succeed. 

Summative Assessment

At three points in the year, the teachers will track each child in their class. This will be an accumulation of test scores, pupil books, pupil responses and day to day lessons. The Sheffield STAT materials (see below) are used to guide teachers. This data helps to target pupils who may be off-track and then offer the targeted support that they need. 

Assessment in Phonics

'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' includes regular assessments. Weekly on-going assessments take place every Friday to see if any children need 'keep up' sessions to help them to stay on track with the teaching and learning in class. Every six weeks, further assessments take place. 

At the end of Year 1, the Year 1 Phonics Screening check will take place. This is a national assessment that all Year 1 children take part in. Over the year, teachers will prepare the children for this screening check so they know what to expect. Further information on how to support your child in preparation for the screening check will be offered nearer the time.

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