At St Mary’s, the teaching of English underpins our whole curriculum; hence we strive to provide a highly motivating and engaging English curriculum that is well developed and gives pupils the opportunity to enrich their literacy skills across all subject areas. It is our aim that our children are able to articulate their ideas clearly and eloquently through both spoken and written language as this is a vital skill that will allow them to succeed in their future and reach their full potential.
Staff at St Mary’s are aware of the importance of highlighting and being able to meet the needs of the differing groups of learners and vulnerable children in their class. Thus, on-going formative assessment is a vital part of acquiring this information and teachers use this daily to plan and teach personalised English lessons which focus on the particular needs of each child. We recognise that each child has their own learning journey, with different starting points and so progress is measured in line with baseline data to ensure every child can celebrate success and be the best that they can be.
In addition, English at St Mary’s does not only occur in the form of a daily distinct lesson but is the foundation of the entire curriculum. It is embedded within every lesson and we will strive for a high level of English for all. Through immersion in high-quality texts, providing children with vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children at St Mary’s will be exposed to a language focused, imaginative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
In order to achieve our intended outcomes, children at St Mary’s receive a discrete one hour English lesson each day; one of which must have an explicit reading focus. In addition to this, children receive thirty minutes of guided reading time per day, where throughout the course of the week they will be given opportunities to engage in teacher led sessions, teaching assistant supported sessions and also time for independent reading in order to build their stamina. At St Mary’s we know how important reading is in order to enrich children’s learning experiences and the link between motivated readers and successful writers is clear. As a school, we use high quality texts as the central focus for our English lessons so that children become immersed in them and are aware of the link between their learning in reading and writing. Each year group has six core texts in which they must cover over the year. Through the many reading opportunities children are given, the use of our accelerated reader system and our reading rewards, it is clear that the school has a culture in which reading thrives. Children are excited to read and as a result, they are exposed to rich vocabulary and ideas which then inform their writing and understanding of a wide range of subject areas.
The school’s feedback policy also ensures that high standards of literacy are promoted across the whole curriculum as basic English skills related to spelling, punctuation and grammar remain a focus for marking not only in English lessons but across all subject areas, as well as the promotion of high standards of presentation. Through the close monitoring of basic skills and presentation, children are able to take pride in their work and are able to express their ideas fluently across all areas. This is something that we feel is essential in allowing all pupils to make outstanding progress and achieve the very best that they can. Furthermore, teachers use marking to assess their children’s progress on a daily basis. Teaching in English at St Mary’s is highly personalised to the needs of each child and so children will often receive smaller group inputs during lessons, which help them to achieve the right next steps for them. Teacher and teaching assistant time is utilised excellently during lessons and fluid movement between the TA and teacher between different groups of learners ensures that all children receive high quality feedback on the spot to allow them to make accelerated progress within and across lessons.
Additionally, children are also given the opportunity to develop their oracy through English Speaking Board exams, which allow them to develop their spoken language and develop highly desirable communication skills, which means that they can express their thoughts and ideas clearly, to a range of audiences.
Finally, consistency is essential in achieving excellence in English across the whole school. Thus, in English there is a clear progression of skills from KS1 to KS2, which meets the requirements of the National Curriculum. Reading and the explicit teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar are consistently used to inform and build upon children’s writing opportunities. Children therefore have an understanding of the whole writing process, which is embedded across different curriculum contexts . Regular monitoring by subject leaders and senior leaders ensures that each class is teaching the correct explicit knowledge for their age group, whilst collegiate moderations ensure the accuracy of teacher assessment in reading and writing.
The impact of a well-developed and engaging English curriculum is clear. We have children who are articulate, motivated and who are making outstanding progress across the curriculum. All groups of learners make excellent progress due to a highly personalised teaching approach in which each child is valued and nurtured to reach their full potential. With the implementation of the writing process being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, many 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. The focus on basic skills and expectation for high standards of presentation from year 1 upwards also means that children enter KS2 with excellent handwriting and a well-developed understanding of the basic components of English. This is then applied across all subject areas and focused marking ensures that standards remain high throughout the whole school, thus allowing our children to produce the best work that they can.
As all aspects of English are a primary part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing is excellent and skills taught in English lessons are transferred into other subjects; this shows a consolidation of skills and an in-depth understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives. We hope that as children move on in their educational journey their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations continue so that they can continue to grow to be the very best that they can.