Our structured and carefully planned approach to reading and writing equips our children to become confident and expressive readers and writers.
We believe in providing a rich and diverse curriculum. Our lessons, the books we read and the images we present reflects our diverse school community. We are aspirational for our children and support them so that they become successful, proud and ambitious learners who go on to experience a wide range of opportunities in their futures.
Our children benefit hugely from exposure to books from an early age. Right from the start of school at St Mary’s, opportunities are provided for children to engage with books that fire their imagination and interest. Our nursery is stocked with attractive and engaging books and the nursery staff create an environment that is rich in language. Children are also encouraged to choose and peruse books freely as well as sharing them when reading with others.
Words are made up of small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and spell words.
At St Mary’s, we follow ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ throughout the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Phonics is taught every day, for 20 minutes, with follow-up tasks throughout the day and other opportunities for practise and consolidation, for example, through focused, adult-led activities in the classroom and opportunities in the outside areas.
Daily Supported Reading (DSR)
This programme is a systematic and well structured approach to reading where children enjoy daily reading in small groups (no more than six) led by a trained adult. It is implemented in addition to our school’s phonics programme. Our children are grouped within their class according to their reading level. Adults use differentiated lesson plans to support children to make maximum progress.
Destination Reader (DR)
At St Mary’s, we provide a structured reading programme from Years 3 to 6, using principles from ‘Destination Reader’. These are structured daily reading sessions which incorporate whole class modelling of reading skills. Children then apply these skills in partner work sessions and when independently reading. Children deepen their understanding of the texts they read through the systematic use of a series of Destination Reader strategies and language stems. This is well sequenced and developed year on year in line with age-related objectives.
Guided reading involves teachers selecting texts to match the reading ability of the children. With specific guidance, children are then supported to read texts independently. Children are organised into groups that have a similar reading ability and/or similar learning needs. Every child has a copy of the same text which they read individually.
Independent reading enables all children to choose their own books (from the class libraries) for pleasure and interest. This fosters a love of reading where children experience a wide range of books and authors.
There are opportunities for listening to and appreciating reading throughout the curriculum. For example: poetry recitals and teachers reading to children during story time.
Each year group from Reception to Year 6 can earn their Bronze, Silver or Gold reading award if they access and read all of the books from their year group reading list (see below). Children enjoy reading a wider genre of texts and feedback from them so far shows that they are greatly motivated to do so.
We create, plan and deliver writing activities that are meaningful and enjoyable across a range of subjects and in a wide range of genres.
In the Early Years, children are encouraged to make marks with a wide range of tools and in a variety of ways both inside and outside of the classroom. Teachers plan and organise writing areas that inspire children to write and gain confidence in their ability to do so. Opportunities to mark make are offered in sand, paint, glitter, foam etc using thick and thin pens /pencils/paintbrushes/sticks etc.
The teaching of writing is based on the Pie Corbett ‘Talk for Writing’ approach throughout the school. We believe strongly that this approach gives children the opportunity to imitate and internalise the language of stories, before moving on to being supported in crafting their writing.
Within writing lessons, our children have many opportunities to imitate and internalise the language of stories, before moving on to crafting their writing. We use age-appropriate texts, story maps and actions to help children recall stories or non-fiction texts. Each unit opens in a creative and engaging way, focusing strongly on developing vocabulary, before bringing the learning together to produce a final ‘innovated’ written outcome.
Teachers use the Floppy’s Phonics scheme and structure to deliver lessons. Strategies learned in these lessons are then used in follow up activities and referred to and used as scaffolds in future pieces of written work across all subjects.
Environmental print plays an important role in stimulating children’s emergent writing skills. It provides real opportunities to develop children’s understanding of symbols. Teachers therefore plan activities and develop writing areas in the classroom where children can experiment with writing for a purpose.
This is a crucial part of helping children develop the ability and confidence to write and express themselves in a given genre. This forms an essential part of each lesson and involves the teacher scribing ideas using creative input from children.
This follows the whole class teaching part of each lesson, enabling children to work independently or in a supported group with an adult and practice the focus skills/objectives.
Using the Talk for Writing approach, children focus on a particular aspect of writing on most days. They edit and improve these pieces. This then culminates in an extended piece such as a newspaper report, a poem or a story.
Children practice handwriting using the Nelson handwriting scheme sheets and which are recorded in English books. Good presentation is emphasised at all times and through all forms of writing. Pencil grips and writing boards are available for use by children who require them. Our school has high expectations of handwriting and presentation of work and children are held to account for ensuring that their work is always of an appropriate standard.
Grammar and punctuation are taught explicitly as well as forming part of writing lessons, with children in KS2 completing regular spelling, punctuation and grammar tests in preparation for the end of KS2 assessments.
Oracy is essential to children’s thinking and learning. High-quality classroom talk helps children become confident when expressing themselves. It also supports children to make progress in reading, writing and in all other areas of the curriculum.
Children are taught to speak clearly and explain their ideas. They learn how to justify their ideas with reasons and ask questions to check their understanding, while developing their vocabulary and listening to others. Classroom talk also helps build children’s knowledge and their vocabulary as well as helping them to clarify their thinking and share, develop and organise their ideas for writing.
Our aim is for all children to:
Children are continuously and formatively assessed during lessons through the use of questioning and discussion and in their reading and writing and by reviewing work against set learning objectives.
We are committed to identifying and closing gaps in children’s knowledge and skills as and when they emerge through formative processes such as marking and questioning. Summative, snap-shot assessments for reading from Years 1 – 6 are carried out termly using standardised tests. Any gaps in children’s knowledge and understanding are addressed quickly and effectively for all children. This may lead to teachers re-teaching missing components if required.
The Reader Teacher is a great website with links to each year group, broken down by fiction/non-fiction and includes reluctant readers HERE
Another great website, with links to local reading events is The Reading Agency: HERE
Our English Curriculum Map is being updated and will be coming soon – watch this space. In the meantime, see overview of curriculum coverage in the individual class pages.