English at St Gerard's
English Curriculum Overview 2020-21
The teaching of English at St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School is designed to instil in children a love of speaking and listening, reading and writing that will last them a lifetime. The ability to communicate is one of the most fundamental skills that a child can learn. Although communication may appear to be a natural development, if a child is to be able to engage fully with the curriculum, and to achieve the higher levels of written and spoken communication expected in the world today, they have to have these skills carefully nurtured. St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School aims to ensure that all of our children are given the learning opportunities to achieve their full potential in all areas of English.
We believe that the development of language skills in our pupils is critical to their future and to their ability to be happy and successful. We are committed to ensuring that pupils learn to enjoy reading, writing and speaking, to appreciate the world of books, and to feel to pleasure in writing creatively. Giving pupils the key skills in English enables them to access material in all curriculum areas, and provides a foundation for their learning throughout their school career.
To achieve this, teachers are focussed on making English interesting and exciting, engaging the pupils with the joy and wonder of books and piquing their imagination and creativity. At St Gerard’s we view the teaching of English as a fundamental part of the holistic development of the pupil, fostering positive behaviours and attitudes toward learning, and providing key knowledge and skills, to benefit pupils throughout their education and beyond. The development of reading in pupils is carefully planned through the teaching of phonics, details of which are provided below. Read, Write Inc is structured in line with the latest research to ensure that each pupil is guided through the process to maximise their progress. The curriculum has been designed to provide pupils with opportunities to write in a wide variety of contexts and with a range of outcomes. Central to all of our work with English is the belief the pupils should enjoy the experience - not only does this maximise the engagement of pupils, but also underlines the fact that reading, writing, speaking and listening should be pleasurable activities, matching our intention that our school should foster a love for English.
At St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School we develop children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. Children learn to use language to communicate ideas, views and feelings. This enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively both verbally and through the written word. We aim share with children the joy of reading and to help them to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Our pupils leave with highly developed communication skills, skills which they take with them into secondary education and beyond. We measure our success not only though pupils' attainment but also through their engagement with, and enthusiasm for, the many English opportunities we provide them with.
Read, Write Inc / Phonics Teaching
At St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School it is our aim to provide children with the skills necessary to be able to read confidently, able to access information throughout the curriculum and above all, to get pleasure from reading. We believe that children should be able to read a wide variety of texts and enjoy doing so.
Children are given daily opportunities to develop their reading skills. Children learn to read using the Read, Write Inc program. Read, Write Inc is carried out daily in the foundation Stage and KS1. Where necessary phonics will continue into KS2. Once children master accurate decoding , a greater emphasis is placed on comprehension. Through reading independently, guided, shared and paired reading children learn to read with confidence, fluency and understanding. Reading takes place with a variety of adults, peers and mixed age groups.
Home/school reading partnerships support every child to become an independent reader. Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club and Project X are accessed at home and school using online portals. At St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School we encourage a love of Reading through a well-resourced library, special events, themed days, author visits, book fairs, clubs and a very strong partnership with Kingsway Library.
At St Gerard’s children learn to read fluently and effectively. They learn to appreciate the joy and wonder of reading, fiction and non-fiction. This is a lifelong skill which will make them secondary ready, and which they will take further into their adult lives.
Writing at St Gerard's
The ability to communicate effectively through writing is a skill we at St Gerard’s believe is critical to children's futures. We aim to ensure that the children learn to write clearly, with neat and legible handwriting, to spell and punctuate accurately and to write in grammatically correct sentences. Further, we focus on the need to be able to use appropriate writing styles in context, and to structure extended pieces of writing to achieve maximum impact.
As children enter the Foundation Stage there are writing opportunities in all areas of learning for the children to explore mark-making and give meanings to the marks they make. In KS1 and 2 transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing) form the basis for what is taught. Children apply the skills they have been taught in all areas of the curriculum. Children are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. Writing takes place in many forms - word and sentence level activities, independent, modelled, shared and paired - and requires an awareness of audience, purpose and context. IPADs and technology are used to engage pupils and give a purpose to their writing.
Through the teaching of writing at St Gerard’s our pupils develop the skills to effectively communicate and express themselves with the written word. They are well-prepared to move into secondary school and to further develop their skills to tackle more challenging tasks. They have a well-developed attention to detail for handwriting, spelling and grammar, and are confident writers.
Through synthetic phonics children are taught the different ways of spelling sounds and then apply their growing knowledge to write words, captions and sentences. Alongside decodable words, the reading and spelling of common exception/tricky words (those which can't be sounded out) are taught. We encourage children to explore words and think about the origins and connections between words. Wordlists for Years 3&4 and Years 5&6 are taught and contain a mixture of frequently used words as well as those that children often misspell. We aim to embed spelling opportunities in all areas of the curriculum.
In the Foundation Stage children develop many pre-writing skills. Correct letter formation is taught in a variety of enjoyable ways. As they become able, children begin to write letters using a variety of materials. Children are taught how to hold their pencil correctly. Children learn to regulate the size of letters which leads to neatly presented work. When children are ready they are taught to join letters which leads to fluent, legible and speedy writing. Children are working very hard to obtain their "Pen Licences" which they are awarded in Year 3.
Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
Through talk, reading and topic work, children's vocabulary is developed. Children are taught grammatical concepts and then encouraged to apply and identify these in the written and spoken word. Specific punctuation and grammatical terminology is taught in each year group.
Speaking and Listening
The ability to clearly express oneself through the spoken word with clarity, and to listen carefully to others, is an essential skill throughout a child's education and beyond in the wider world. St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School believes that these are key skills for pupils to learn, and that they must be explicitly developed in children if they are to achieve the highest levels of communication.
Speaking and listening are not taught as discrete subjects, but are embedded in all aspects of school life, across all areas of the curriculum and are part of everything we do. Pupils are provided with many and varied contexts for talk enabling them to communicate confidently and effectively. Our Christmas productions in EYFS & Key Stage 1 develops children's language, speaking and listening and drama skills and gives them the opportunity to perform to an audience.
The pupils at St Gerard’s develop a confidence in speaking and listening which allows them to communicate with others effectively. They learn to express their ideas verbally, to discuss and debate issues with others, listening and responding to alternative views. They learn that their choice of language and sentence structure must be varied to reflect the purpose and audience of their conversation. These skills are invaluable to the children in the modern world.
At St Gerard’s we believe that the acquisition of basic skills is the foundation of all learning. We aim to provide a curriculum which is broad and balanced with an emphasis on the basic skills which is intrinsic to every aspect of the curriculum and everyday life.
We are committed to ensuring that every child who attends St Gerard’s Catholic Primary & Nursery School, no matter what their academic ability, has high expectations set for them.
Using the basic skills rainbow, targets will be set for all pupils on an individual basis and will be shared with parents and carers as deemed appropriate.The school is committed to maintaining and enhancing Literacy throughout the school and providing support and information to parents about basic skills and how they can help their children.
Take a look at these links to practice your English skills at home:
KS1 BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/literacy/
SPAG for 7 – 11’s - http://www.topmarks.co.uk/english-games/7-11-years/spelling-and-grammar
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/miskin.education/
Website - http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/
Have a look at these links to practice your phonics skills at home:
Phonics for 5 – 7’s - http://www.topmarks.co.uk/english-games/5-7-years/letters-and-sounds
Phonics Play - http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ChildrensMenu.htm
eBooks - Read Write Inc - http://www.st-gerards.halton.sch.uk/page/ebooks---reading-at-home---autumn-2020/83576
Have a look at all of the amazing things taking place in English at St Gerard's by using the #StGerardsEnglish hashtag on Twitter!