English Curriculum (Curriculum Designer: Karen Mcloughlin)
At St Christopher’s RC Primary School our aim is to teach pupils to speak and write fluently so they can communicate their thoughts, ideas and emotions to others with confidence. We develop our pupils’ listening skills and reading skills, enabling them to communicate effectively with others. We place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s reading and vocabulary. By the time the children leave us, the limited vocab they had in Nursery will have expanded enormously. They will also have a love of reading and writing.
Phonics plays a vital role in the teaching of reading and is taught daily in EYFS and KS1 following the Rocket Phonics programme. The Rocket phonics programme is used to provide a structured coverage of each Phonics phase. Our teaching staff plan and teach interactive activities that engage our pupils and provide opportunities to apply their phonics skills in reading and writing tasks. Progression in Phonics is assessed half-termly and monitored to ensure progression and provide appropriate support.
Reading is placed at the heart of our English curriculum. We have a home-school reading system where the children are given two reading books. The first book is a phonetically decodable book to match the phonic phase they are currently learning. The other book is reading for pleasure book which will challenge their comprehension. In Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1, the children use Rocket Phonics which complements the Reading Planet scheme. In Key Stage 2 the children progress through the bands to eventually reach free reading. Through Guided Reading in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 and timetabled comprehension lessons, in the rest of the school, we teach our children the skills of comprehension. We also have a member of staff who has sole responsibility for reading and she hears targeted readers every day.
At St Christopher’s we strive to promote a love of reading and literature through focused activities and reading for pleasure. Teachers read to the children for fifteen minutes every day in order to promote a love of reading. Our bright, inviting library and class reading areas encourage independence in reading and the joy of reading.
Handwriting is taught weekly from Reception to Year 6, beginning with mark making and patterns in Early Years all the way up to legible, joined handwriting in Year 6.
Spelling is taught from Year 1 – Year 6 every week. The “No Nonsense spelling scheme” is used at St Christopher’s from Y2-6 to ensure that a systematic, structured approach to spelling is followed. This scheme uses a range of techniques including repetition and mnemonics to develop and apply spelling skills. Spellings are sent home each week as part of homework and the children are tested each week. Children from all classes are also assessed each half term in a special spelling assessment undertaken by the Assessment leader.
Writing is taught by using "Pathways to Write" which is used to structure our teaching of English. We chose to use this scheme as it is based on high-quality texts that stimulate and develop ideas for creative writing. Over a half term, pupils become immersed in high-quality literature. Key grammar skills are introduced, discussed and explored in context with opportunities in reading and writing tasks to identify, discuss and apply these features. New vocabulary is introduced, discussed and clarified. This enables our pupils to understand the meanings of words when reading texts and use them correctly in their own pieces of writing, broadening their vocabulary.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1 children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing a good pencil grip, and clear handwriting with finger spaces between each word. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1, the children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. As they progress to Year 6, children are taught to write for a range of purposes – to entertain, inform, explain, persuade and discuss – using explicit sentence models and ambitious vocabulary. They then learn to shape these sentences into coherent paragraphs before planning and creating their own original works of fiction and non-fiction.