“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.
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 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. Early reading is a focus, where children learn to enjoy books and engage with a wide range of stories.
Phonics is taught daily from Nursery up to Year 2. In Reception, children begin to follow ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’, a government approved synthetic phonics program. 1:1 and group intervention are provided to ensure all children ‘keep up’ with the pace they need to become a reader.
Handwriting is taught daily. It begins in Early Years as the gross and fine motor skills are developed. In KS1, the Nelson Scheme is introduced:
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.
'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 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 explore writing their own! A minimum of three poems will be learnt 'off by heart' in each year group. The children then enjoy different opportunities to recite these poems to an audience!
Writing lessons, and indeed subject lessons across the curriculum, are where the handwriting, spelling and grammar elements all come together. The children write for a purpose so that the tasks are meaningful and enjoyable. This may be linked to their topic or their novel. The curriculum is followed using the Lancashire Learning and Progression Steps.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and so is taught discretely in a variety of ways. These include phonics lessons, guided reading in small groups, guided reading journal activities and reading comprehension. Two St. Thomas of Canterbury bespoke documents have been written to guide our reading curriculum - Reading Comprehension Skills Progression and a Teaching Toolkit. Both are available in school at request.
Inclusion Not all children learn at the same rate. Teachers carefully consider this when planning their English lessons. Teaching Assistants are deployed effectively to support or challenge pupils. If a pupil requires a more tailed approach, an intervention may be put in place to help them.
The English Team Mrs Abbott and Mrs McGuire, lead English throughout the school. They are supported by Phonics Lead, Miss Ward, and SPaG Lead, Miss Sale. Mrs McGuire and Mrs Clifford also lead on the development of Early Reading. The high quality provision for all pupils is the shared priority of all leaders, teachers and support staff.
CPD Regular training for teachers ensures a consistent approach to teaching and learning. Additionally, leaders regularly attend external training and are members of English subject networks. Staff meetings delivered across the school year, regularly focus on the teaching of English. The monitoring of teaching and learning takes place through lesson drop-ins, 'book looks' 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.