“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
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 must 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.
Due to very low starting points, 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 and educate; their influence on their child’s success is unquestionable.
The systematic teaching of phonics provides the building blocks for word reading and is therefore prioritised and well-resourced. We intend 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 small, interactive and engaging sessions; which allows a positive learning culture for all children to thrive! Decoding words is the ‘way in’ to a text, but 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 must provide an abundance of opportunities to use the skills of reading to access learning in other subjects and indeed in life.
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.
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.
'Know a novel' is an exciting approach to our English curriculum. Each class will read at least 3 full novels each year. They will learn about the story plot, the range of characters, the language choices of the writer, and indeed the writer's style.
Poetry lessons are now in place every half term! The children really love listening to, reading and reciting poems. Here, they will learn to talk about and appreciate poetry, and even become a poet themselves as they write! Three poems will be learnt 'off by heart' in each year group. The children will get different opportunities to recite these poems to an audience!
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, across the school.
OFSTED recognised this excellence. Visit our Homepage to watch the Ofsted video clip!
In Key Stage One (KS1), during the daily phonics lessons, the children learn to read. The synthetic phonics program 'Letters and Sounds' is delivered everyday by trained teachers and teaching assistants to small groups of pupils. Interesting, fun and interactive short lessons, help the children to engage in their learning.
In Key Stage Two (KS2), pupils ideally enter into the Juniors as a reader. The same three literacy areas of Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing remain the focus. The 'Schofield and Sims' program is followed in KS2, when the phonics program is complete.
The English Team, Mrs Abbott and Mrs McGuire, lead English throughout the school. They are supported by the Phonics Lead Miss Ward and Miss Carlton. The high quality provision for all pupils is their priority.
Regular training for teachers ensures a consistent approach to teaching and learning. The monitoring of teaching and learning takes place through lesson drop-ins, book and planning scrutinies, and pupil interviews. Team planning and teaching takes place as a supportive model.
Local and National links help our school to remain up-to-date with developments in Literacy, such as the 'Transforming Writing' project with 'The National Literacy Trust'. The was a two-year action research project, working alongside experts Pie Corbett and Julia Strong!
Beyond the curriculum - Trips out of school and visitors into classes, enrich and support enjoyment and learning. World Book Day is celebrated each year, along with author and poet visits. Breakfast and After school clubs further support learning. Our wonderful library welcomes pupils throughout the lunch break, and parents and pupils after school every day.