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St John Fisher Catholic Primary

St John Fisher Catholic Primary

English

Intent

At St John Fisher, we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussing. Each unit of our English curriculum is based on carefully chosen, high quality texts providing purposeful opportunities to practise reading, writing and speaking skills.  Our curriculum enables all children to:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate rich and varied literature
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn, developing their ability to elaborate and explain  their understanding and ideas clearly

These aims are embedded across our English lessons and in the wider curriculum, where expectations of writing (including handwriting) are consistently high. We use our wider curriculum to enhance linguistic knowledge further as children discover interesting subject-specific vocabulary, as well as gaining knowledge of the world through discussion and varied comprehension exercises. Wherever possible, we try to link our humanities curriculum to the books we choose to read as a whole class, to create rich cross-curricular links. Our provision follows a clear pathway of progression as children advance through each year group in spoken language, reading and writing. When children leave our school, we aim for them to have a wealth of expressive and receptive vocabulary at their disposal, and the cultural capital to succeed far beyond the primary classroom.

 

Implementation

Reading

 

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book yet.”
– J K Rowling

 

At St John Fisher, we are passionate about books and our aim is to create life-long, enthusiastic readers through the study of carefully chosen high-quality books by compelling authors. Our programme of study is based on texts that have been carefully selected to provide interest, challenge and variety. Children will read and discuss a wide range of fiction genres and poetry, increasing their familiarity with myths, legends, traditional stories, modern fiction and books from other cultures and traditions. In addition to a wide range of fiction, there is also a strong focus on non-fiction texts and the development of skills needed to access and extract information effectively, as well as developing technical and subject-specific vocabulary. 

Each class read their whole-class text where the teacher will model reading and children will read out aloud, in pairs or through echo and choral reading to enhance expression and awareness of punctuation. Children are encouraged to discuss the reading and give their opinions and by Year 6, children are encouraged to take turns when voicing their understanding without hands up to create a culture where they feel confident to agree, disagree and elaborate on input from their peers. As well as this, children are provided with thoughtful reading comprehension exercises to enhance their inference, prediction, summarisation, retrieval skills as well as explain their thoughts coherently by providing evidence from the text.

Accelerated Reader and our new library!

We use the Accelerated Reader program to track progress and encourage KS2 pupils to choose to read books from a wide selection. Online Star tests identify children’s current reading levels and this helps staff to guide children to choosing books at an appropriate level. On completing books, children take a short comprehension quiz and aim to score 100%.

Our new library, funded in conjunction with our fantastic PTA, is now home to hundreds of books suitable for all age groups and arranged carefully according to our Accelerated Reader program, allowing children to find their books easily. Our Year 5 librarians are at hand at lunchtimes to help children to choose from a wide-variety of reading material.

Reading is exciting at our school, with our friendly school dog Luna coming to visit children in the library each week. Year 6 are given an opportunity to read to Luna in small groups. Luna knows a lot about Martin Luther King after Black History Month! Our soft cushion areas give children a place to read in pairs and share ideas. Children are confident with the use of dictionaries, thesaurus' and our school ipads when defining new words found in their reading materials.

Our Junior Librarians

Junior Librarians

St John Fisher Catholic School Library

Our new library, funded by the PTA, is now open for use with a wide selection of books on offer all arranged according to our Accelerated Reader levels.

 

Home Reading

Phonics

We follow the Government approved, systematic synthetic phonics program: Read Write Inc for our phonics teaching. Sessions run in small groups where children are taught to recognise sounds, read decodable green words, red tricky words and alien words. They then practise spelling these words and writing them down. Children are taught to apply their phonics skills and improve fluency through the Read Write Inc story books in used during these sessions.

All staff receive training and regular updates with coaching  to ensure continuity and ensure high levels of staff confidence in delivering these sessions.

Further information on our Phonics program can be found on our Phonics page.

Children progress through the reading levels in line with our phonics program and this is closely tracked. Once children have completed our phonics program they move onto the Accelerated Reader program which supports teachers to match them on the correct level books whilst also tracking their comprehension of what they read through AR quizzes. Once on the Accelerated Reader program, children earn points for reading different books and are rewarded when they hit their targets.

KS2 Independent Readers

The data from Accelerated Reader guides pupils to choose appropriate texts, and the school library has been recently  re-organised in a way that supports children in finding books that interest them. On completing books, children take a short comprehension quiz and aim to score 100%. Teaching Assistants support children in their reading on a daily basis to improve comprehension scores and guided reading sessions teach skills that help children identify and find keywords; to read around the keyword and to look up new vocabulary and read sentences more than once to improve understanding as well as fluency. Targeted support is key to reading development in combination with shared reading in pairs. 

By Year 6, children share their understanding of what they have read from their independent reading books on a daily basis through our reading diaries which is also a form of home-school communication. 

How do I determine if a book is the right level for my child?

You can use https://www.arbookfind.co.uk/ to check the level of a book that your child has chosen to read. Check against your child's ZPDs and the book's BL. See instructions below:

determine ar levels.pdf

 AR Levels

Writing

A range of high-quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry is chosen for each year group, with cross-curricular links wherever possible, giving children purposeful and inspiring stimuli for writing as well as aspirational models to learn from. Lessons have a focus on grammar and punctuation alongside well planned activities which enable children to gain the knowledge, skills, vocabulary and experiences required to become masterful, creative and passionate writers. Handwriting and spelling, which are also taught in short discrete sessions, are another focus within English lessons. 

Children often volunteer to read out their work to their class creating a positive culture for writing creatively and each class will always feature a wonderful display of writing. 

In KS2, children will be prompted to use thoughtfully constructed mind maps, based on the success criteria of the lesson, to reflect on their writing and consider how to edit successfully. Purple pen editing is an important part of our lessons where children feel comfortable to enhance their work in a different coloured pen. Teachers give whole class targets and learning objectives and children are then given bespoke targets in the back of their books. When children meet their bespoke targets, they are keen to show the teacher by placing the letter T in the margin. Meeting targets is a great way for children to earn housepoints and this makes them reflective learners. 

Letter Join

Letter Join is used across the school to maintain and improve handwriting as children progress through the school.

Essential Spellings

Our spelling pathway is based on our Essential Spelling program enabling teachers to teach spellings systematically. There is a focus on statutory spelling words given as part of our weekly spelling homework in KS2. When children cannot spell a word, teaching assistants and teachers will prompt children to use their phonetic knowledge. 

Special events such as World Book Day, poetry competitions and our year 6 end of school production have all enriched our love of reading, writing and performing literature. The Year 6 performance of Shakespeare The Tempest in 2022 and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens in 2023 were spectacular! What will Year 6 perform in July 2024?

 Inclusion

At St John Fisher, teaching assistant are effective in how they deliver targeted support to children using a familiar level 1-8 sentence construction resource in every lesson to encourage learners to reflect on their use of grammar and punctuation.

 

Speaking

Children are encouraged to regularly contribute in class discussions in all subjects and partner-talk is a key feature of all our lessons. Our aim is to develop understanding of any concept through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas which is modelled by our teachers.

Our English curriculum include lessons that focus on writing and delivering persuasive speeches with an appropriate register.  When modelled by the teacher, children will be encouraged to articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions. Often in upper key stage 2, class discussions can organically evolve into debates where children maturely consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.

We love to create a positive culture where children's opinions are always valued and praised. Our School Council speeches and presentations, as well as our weekly Acts of Worship, provide cyclical opportunities for all children to maintain the attention of the class and participate actively in collaborative conversations, whilst staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments. Monitoring the interest of their listeners is an important part of any presentation and children are encouraged to reflect on their performances thinking of at least one way to improve.

In English lessons, question openers encourage children to ask questions to extend their knowledge and understanding. 

Impact

The impact of our English curriculum is a community of enthusiastic readers and writers, who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. Children are confident when encountering new vocabulary in their reading, and including it in their writing. Pupils support one another in their discussions and peer-review each other’s work,  leading to collaborative conversations. Outcomes of work in both English and other books evidence the high expectations of written work. Children write successfully across a range of forms and adapt their writing considering the purpose and audience.

Attainment at the end of KS2 in reading and writing is currently above that of Hertfordshire and the National Average.