At St Mark’s CE Primary School we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. One of our priorities is helping children read and develop their decoding, and all-important comprehension skills. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate their needs effectively, and further their learning. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum, starting from the very beginning in Bluebell class. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
As our Golden Threads, we want our children to leave St Mark’s being able to read easily fluently and with a good understanding of a diverse and rich range of fiction and non-fiction texts. These will develop and broaden their understanding and experience of the world. They will be able to discuss in depth, and with empathy, across the whole range of the curriculum with a wide vocabulary. Both their reading and discussion skills will then be translated into their writing in both English lessons and across our wider, rich curriculum.
In the EYFS and KS1 phonics takes place every day. In KS1 and KS2 English is taught daily for an hour and there is also a half hour guided reading session.
The following National Curriculum aims are embedded across our literacy lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent project work are woven into the programme of study.
At St Mark’s we have a reading spine that consists of ‘Books to have read to us…’and ‘core books’ around our projects. The ‘Books to have read to us…’ are books that are at a level of reading above the children’s age range with the intention being that they are read to the children daily, purely for their enjoyment. The core books support our project work. The reading spine is not a complete list of all the books that the children will be exposed to and is always developing.
We are currently in the process of moving to Sounds Write, a government endorsed phonics scheme. As part of this we will be investing in new guided reading books and new home readers. We are also revamping our school library with new and exciting books. All children in the school are able to visit the library and take books – fiction and non-fiction - to read in class, or at home.
At St Mark’s, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can. We run intervention reading, and speaking and listening groups. Teachers plan and teach English lessons which are tailored to the particular needs of each child. We help each child 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.
On arrival at St Mark’s, Bluebell parents are invited to attend a phonics evening where they are given information on what and how their children are going to be learning the essential skill of reading and how they’re going to use it in their writing.
We prefer to give children verbal feedback in response to their work, however, teacher’s mark English books daily and then, if necessary, adapt their next day’s planning to reflect any misconceptions that may have occurred in the lesson. Regular English book audits are carried out to check all the quality and appropriateness of the learning and that the presentation is up to St Mark’s standards.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With projects being taught in a thorough and enthusiastic way alongside the more technical skills of English, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects.
We are confident that as children move on from St Mark’s to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.