“A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.” Primary National Curriculum 2014
The English curriculum at St Robert Bellarmine Primary School strives to achieve this for all of our children and aims to ensure that they leave school fluent in the fundamentals of reading, writing, speaking and listening. We encourage all of our children to see that all strands of the English curriculum are an essential part of their everyday life now and in the future.
We really read here at St Robert Bellarmine…
- Our school is rich in texts that represent children’s literature and staff are skilled in selecting the right book for different outcomes. This knowledge is carefully passed onto children so that they in turn have more ownership about developing their own reading habits.
- Whole-school texts that bring the reading community (pupils, staff and parents) together. This is further enhanced through a holistic approach to ‘reading for pleasure’ where strategies are embedded both implicitly and explicitly.
- All staff have a deep knowledge of texts used; demonstrate and model positive attitudes to reading and can reshape tasks to guide the children as readers. This expertise provides opportunities for children to read beyond their ability and many children master higher order reading skills.
- Early reading is promoted through a range of methods so that our youngest readers are equipped with skills to decode (through consistent phonics sessions) and comprehend (through guided reading sessions where real books are used to promote questioning skills)
- High-quality texts at the heart of learning so that our children have the best models
- The best children’s literature is used to engage readers and inspire writers so that the process of reading into writing is explicitly modelled and children can see a real relationship between both sets of skills
- Aspirational texts used to stimulate challenging discussions to develop justification skills
- Embrace texts that stimulate philosophical questions that reflect contemporary issues
- Application of reading skills across all curriculum areas to support knowledge-based learning activities. Texts chosen genuinely reflect the area studied and can be used as a vehicle to teach new skills.
- Highly- skilled staff who craft questions in reading sessions to tease out learning from all pupils from EYFS- Year 6. Consistent monitoring of reading skills ensures that assessment of reading is rigorous and accurate.
- Staff who consistently evaluate the purpose of the texts chosen so that they match the interests and the needs of their classes
- Staff expertise and the wealth of resources ensure that all readers, including those who are reluctant make progress and develop into ‘real readers’
- We value the importance our parents make in supporting all children to read regularly, fluently and accurately. High-quality home reading books alongside well-known children’s books are used to facilitate this. Progress made in reading is at the heart of many parents’ evening discussions.
- There is a wealth of resources that teachers use including ‘The Better Reading Partnership’ so that children from all abilities are catered for. Some children benefit from 1:1 reading with a skilled adult to further develop their fluency and comprehension skills.
Writing: how we craft our trade…
- Well-chosen high-quality texts are at the heart of all English sessions to ensure children have models of writing that equip them with skills to succeed.
- Yearly overviews are consistently reviewed to ensure that all writing tasks are meaningful with a clear audience and purpose. Children make progress across their writing because this is meticulously managed and reviewed.
- Staff have developed curriculum long-term plans that illustrate soundly how writing skills can be taught in English sessions and further applied in another context. This is expertly woven through the whole curriculum through well-chosen texts and children take great pride to ensure that the standard of writing is consistent in all foundation subjects.
- Grammar skills are embedded within the context of high-quality texts ensuring the function of grammatical devices is the objective. Staff expertise means that children practise a skill and are challenged to reason within this area so that it can be transferred across into the children’s independent writing. This means that all grammar skills are purposeful and match the features of the task so that children connect all of their writer’s tools.
- Children here genuinely enjoy writing because they are encouraged to take risks when writing; take ownership of a task by making their own choices and develop their own style. Staff facilitate this by sharing high-quality exemplars; analysing the tools required within the features and then allowing the children autonomy to shape their own writing.
- Natural writers are encouraged to develop their own style so that they can choose how to use the writing tools that they have been taught and in turn use this freedom to develop their writer’s voice often resulting with many children mastering writing.
- Consistent approaches to assessing writing is evident through the plans; teacher feedback and valuable discussions with children. All staff are astutely aware of how to move a child on in their writing and this is reflected in the progress made.
- Children are taught the purpose of planning a piece of writing so that they fully recognise the importance of this stage and use it when writing. Equally, children are taught skills to both proof-read their writing and edit it so that it can be the best that it can be.
- High expectations from staff ensure that presentation and handwriting is of a high standard. All children recognise the importance of this and in turn work hard to produce writing that is well-presented.
It’s good to talk…
- All staff recognise the importance of oral rehearsal before writing and this is evidenced through planning activities across the curriculum where children are given a voice. This ensures children are directly involved in the task and can articulate; justify and explain their learning.
- Modelling how to justify own reasons is planned carefully into reading sessions so that children can apply these skills through a range of phrases in other contexts. This is further enhanced in whole-school debating style sessions aligned to a shared text.
- Children are encouraged to actively question throughout the curriculum. This is facilitated through well-planned activities where staff promote pupil voice. Children enjoy participating in this way and they develop justification skills at an age-appropriate standard.
- High-quality texts that deal with contemporary issues provide the vehicle for children to question and hypothesise within a safe environment. Staff are equipped to manage these discussions in a sensitive manner so that most children feel confident to share their opinion.
- Within class discussions, children are encouraged to adapt and change their viewpoint as they develop further knowledge of a topic. This is where some children excel in this area and model exemplary speaking habits.
- Visual resources and images are used to stimulate meaningful discussions where all children, including the youngest and more reluctant learners, can participate.
- All staff model Standard-English throughout school and children work hard to reflect this.
- Staff have been trained to use a range of principles to encourage precision in vocabulary. These principles underpin many teaching sessions across the curriculum as staff use a wealth of resources that equip the children with skills to identify and reason with language. Enhancing vocabulary is embedded across all subjects and teachers strive to provide purposeful activities where language development is promoted. Although this is a key strand within guided reading sessions, staff use these principles to support all learning across the curriculum.
- Children take part in a range of opportunities to speak publicly across the school year including focused curriculum sharing assemblies (friendship week & multi-cultural week); whole-school assemblies for parents; productions (Christmas, Advent Services, Easter Service and Y6 leavers) and an external company who provide ‘A play in a day’ for all year groups related to a curriculum area (for example EYFS Pirates, Y3 Stone Age- Iron Age etc…)
- Skilled staff plan writing activities with a clear purpose and audience. This means that children are involved in rich conversations regarding the scale of formality to ensure the correct vocabulary, grammar and punctuation is selected to match the intended audience. This is further enhanced in upper key stage 2 where a more detailed analysis is expected when planning writing activities. Children can verbally justify these choices before they record them in their written form.
- EYFS – role play is given the highest priority and staff use this skilfully to develop children's speaking and listening skills.
- We recognise that for all of our children to become confident readers and writers, it is essential that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language.
- We follow the Read Write Inc phonics programme to ensure phonics is taught systematically and consistently throughout school.
- Staff are trained to deliver these high-quality sessions for all children from nursery to year 1. This approach is also used as an intervention for children who need further sessions.
- Although children have a discrete phonics session, staff provide many opportunities across the curriculum for children to apply their knowledge of phonics in a different context. This is further developed in English sessions where children use the taught strategies from phonics in their independent writing.