At St Mary Magdalene, we believe in promoting a quality English curriculum for all our children, which develops key life skills and a love of reading and writing. We develop our children’s language and literacy skills so they can talk appropriately, with confidence, to different audiences, as well as listen attentively with understanding. We follow the National Curriculum, which includes programmes of study and attainment targets, for reading, writing and speaking & listening at key stages 1 and 2. In Reception, we use Birth to 5 Matters to help us deliver the revised statutory EYFS. We aim to develop positive attitudes towards reading so every child thinks of themselves as a reader and develops a habit of reading widely (across fiction and non fiction), and often, for both pleasure and information. We aim to ensure that all pupils read confidently, fluently and with good understanding.
We follow a systematic synthetic phonics programme in the early years to give our children the foundations for future learning. We develop reading skills so all children can infer and deduce, as well as analyse and extract meaning from increasingly challenging texts. We aim for our children to write clearly, accurately and coherently. Children will write in ways appropriate for an intended audience and/or for the intended purpose, whilst developing their own individual flair. We want our children to enjoy writing and have a passion and enthusiasm for it with a balance of fiction and non-fiction being created. We aim to ensure all pupils develop a wide vocabulary and a solid understanding of the grammar, punctuation and spelling rules appropriate for their age group. We support children of all abilities, through appropriate modelling and scaffolding, to enable them to express themselves through writing. We aim for all pupils to take pride in their writing and present it with care. We provide opportunities, across the curriculum, for children to apply their reading and writing skills. It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read and write with confidence.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING:
At SMMS, a huge emphasis is placed on teaching the children to be confident when speaking to others. From Reception, classes lead collective worship once a term. They are taught to speak confidently in front of the school. Debates, discussions, drama and role play are an integral part of the curriculum. We recognise that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. Children are exposed to a wide range of (tier 2) vocabulary in English so that they can build on their knowledge of high frequency words that are more common in text than everyday speech. Children are introduced to new vocabulary on a daily basis and are shown ways to use it in both their speech and their writing. Subject specific (tier 3) vocabulary is identified and shared with the children at the start of each new topic, across the curriculum.
We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression to ensure children are building on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school. We strive for all our children to be able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. We also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. Please see Phonics and Early Reading within Curriculum areas for full details.
We prioritise early reading in Reception and KS1, with the teaching of reading in small groups, three times a week. We use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments.
The reading practice sessions in Reception and KS1 focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text
Please see the Phonics and Early Reading section in Curriculum area for full details of these early reading practise sessions.
In Years 3-6, children have four 20-30 minute Whole Class Reading sessions a week. Reading skills (VIPERS) are taught and modelled during these whole class reading lessons. One day a week each year group from Y3-6, have a reading for pleasure session, aimed at fostering a love of reading and enabling pupils to build speed, reading stamina and to practise learnt strategies. We assess the children’s achievement termly and assess them using the STAR documents in moderation sessions, where they are given an agreed standard. Annual assessments are conducted during the summer term. National SATs tests are taken along with optional tests for Years 3-5. These provide a summative assessment of the child’s annual progress in relation to national expectation and inform teacher’s planning.
All classrooms have an inviting reading corner stocked with a range of age appropriate books, both fiction and non-fiction. Teachers are encouraged to read aloud regularly, giving the children a time just to enjoy hearing stories. Children in KS2 choose a book from their class book corner to take home. These books are changed as and when children complete a book. Class teacher monitor this. Children are encouraged to read at home at least 3 times a week. Every pupil has a home/school reading record, where there is a record of all reading books read. Children are expected to record whenever they read in their reading record. Class teachers check these weekly to ensure children are keeping up to date with them.
We teach writing using the Literary Curriculum from the Literacy Tree. We adopt and adapt the Literacy Tree planning sequences to teach writing through a text. As a whole-school approach, children explore high quality literary texts and experience unique, significant authors as they move through our school. Where possible, the Literacy Tree units complement our humanities or science topics. This book-based approach to teaching writing enables us to teach spelling, punctuation and grammar through a text.
The writing process at St Mary Magdalene involves:
- Planning for the purpose and audience, recording key vocabulary, drafting, revising, editing and proof reading, publishing to a high level of presentation, reflecting and evaluating.
- Opportunities for writing for a real purpose are planned.
- We assess the children’s achievement termly and assess them using the STAR documents in moderation session, where they are given an agreed standard. Opportunities are also identified for extended writing in other curriculum areas.
SPELLING, GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION (SPAG):
Year group spellings are taught weekly using the No Nonsense spelling scheme, supported where appropriate by Spelling Seeds, from the Literary Curriculum. A short list of spellings are sent home each week and children are tested on the weekly spellings. Year 1-3 have 5-6 spellings a week. Y4-6 have 6-8 spellings a week.
SPAG is taught in the context of our Literacy Tree sequences to give it purpose for the children and not just in stand-alone lessons. Teachers adapt the sequences to ensure that the grammar and punctuation is at age-related expectations for the year groups within their class, as well as ensuring it targets exactly what the children in their class need. Year 6, however, do have 2-3 discrete SPAG lessons a week to revise key stage 2 spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.
We understand that handwriting is an essential skill, that has been linked to improved academic success and self-esteem. At SMMS, we follow the Penpals scheme. This provides us with a consistent approach enabling us to make progress across the school. We have a clear sequence of how handwriting is taught at SMMS. The correct formation for letters, numbers and joins at our school is communicated to parents.
Every child at SMMS will have:
- Visits to the local library every 2 weeks (in Year 1)
- Opportunity to participate in local reading competitions including the summer reading challenge and the ‘Extreme Reading’ challenge
- Book fairs every term – children are timetabled in for browsing sessions
- Access to SMMS staff reading stories on the school website
- Participation in World Book Day dress up
- Participation in World Book Week and enrichment events based on the national theme
- A Reading Buddy – teaming up older and younger classes to share favourite books together
- Time every week to choose a book and read for pleasure
- Regular author/poet/storyteller visits – every child will access at least one author event per year
- Participation in a whole school book event
We give all children the opportunity to explore social and moral issues, through the core texts which are specifically chosen for each year group. In reading, whole class texts are chosen carefully, with protagonists that both celebrate and challenge social and moral responsibility. The books that are specifically selected for teaching writing (through the Literacy Tree) provide our children will opportunity to experience different cultures. We also ensure that a large range of the books we use reflect our own diverse school community. Writing tasks, promote a use of imagination and creativity. Debates and discussions in whole class reading help children to recognise the difference between right and wrong and their readiness to apply this understanding in their own lives. Children are encouraged to peer assess and celebrate each other’s successes, in whole-class reading, writing and spelling tasks.
At SMMS, our EYFS curriculum is designed to provide a broad and balanced education that meets the needs of all pupils. It facilitates them to gain the literacy skills, knowledge and understanding they need, as they start out on their educational journey. At SMMS, early reading is a high priority. Please see our Phonics and Early Reading section in the Curriculum Areas.
The English curriculum is taught using both the Literacy Tree and Talk for Writing strategies. English is taught with a daily teacher-led input with further opportunities to embed their literacy skills within the provision as well as in a small adult-led group during the week. Children develop their literacy skills by the imitation of stories they learn using story mapping techniques. They then move on to the innovation of these well-known stories by including their own ideas. Children will also have the opportunities to show independence in their writing by applying their phonic knowledge and by writing their own stories. The Literacy Tree texts that are chosen are specifically selected for their challenge and quality of language. All texts chosen are also selected with a view to promoting reading for pleasure. Literacy opportunities are promoted in many areas of the continuous provision. There is always daily opportunity for children to improve their fine motor skills and practise and apply their phonic knowledge within the continuous provision. The classroom is text-rich and there is a dedicated writing table each day. There are weekly opportunities for the children to develop their gross motor skills, which we know has a direct impact on children’s ability to hold a pencil and write.
At SMMS, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can.
As SMMS we have:
- Intervention phonic groups
- Parent volunteers who come in regularly to hear KS1 children read
- ‘Beanstalk’ reading volunteers who support identified KS2 children with reading fluency
Teachers plan and teach English and whole class reading lessons which are differentiated to the particular needs of each child. We help children maximise their potential by providing help and support where necessary whilst striving to make children independent workers once we have helped to equip them with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need.
Children with EAL are supported in their writing with word banks and sentence scaffolds. Phonic and/or reading interventions are carefully planned in order to meet an individual child’s needs.
High attainers are challenged in their reading with reading challenges, linked to VIPERS, in their reading journals. In writing, high attainers are challenged to independently self-review their work and edit their writing accordingly. High attainers have opportunity to embed their writing skills across the curriculum.
In order to support our whole school community we run a number of parent workshops, which give practical tips for supporting children at home with literacy skills.
Parent workshops include:
- Phonic Parent Cafe for Reception and Year 1 parents
- Reading Parent Cafe for EYFS, KS1 and KS2
- Handwriting Parent Cafes for EYFS, KS1 and KS2
- A Spelling Parent Café
- KS2 SATs meetings for Year 6 parents
- Children are equipped with tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary and texts.
- Children are able to recommend books to their peers and enjoy reading a wide range of genres
- Children enjoy participating in book talk, including evaluating an author’s use of language
- Children of all abilities will be able to succeed in all English lessons because work will be appropriately scaffolded
- Children’s enjoyment of writing will shine in their bold vocabulary choices
- Children will be able to use precise grammatical terminology to discuss an learn from the works of notable authors
- Children will be able to explain their own writing choices
- Children will leave primary school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught
- Parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support with reading, spelling and grammar at home
- The percentage of pupils working at ARE within each year group will be in line with national averages or better
- The percentage of pupils working at Greater Depth within each year group will be in line with national averages or better
- There will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non- disadvantaged)