In our school, English is at the core of our pupil’s learning and it is our aim that all children will reach their full potential in this subject. From Reception Class through to Year 6, children engage in English based learning on a daily basis. We aim to develop pupils’ abilities to communicate meaning, successfully through speaking and listening, reading and writing. As part of our Creative Curriculum, many aspects of the English Curriculum are taught within other subject areas.
Please see our policies below:
Handwriting Policy – please see our Policies page
Speaking and Listening
It is vital that our pupils learn and develop the skills to communicate effectively. We encourage our pupils to use talk to explore ideas and feelings, to listen and respond to others, including in pairs and in groups. Children are given opportunities to experience talking within role-play and drama to explore texts, ideas and issues.
At St Joseph’s school we are using the Oxford reading scheme with the majority of our pupils. However, Reception and KS1 have tailored the reading books to fit in with a fully decodable reading scheme.
Oxford reading tree is a series of books that have been carefully written to support the process of learning to read and to help children make progress as readers. By the age of 6 or 7, most children should have enough phonics knowledge to be able tackle and at least ‘decode’ any new word in a book. However, it’s important to remember that understanding what the words mean – both individually and in the context of the story or information text – is also vital for reading progress and is really important for motivation. Keeping children reading beyond the age of 7 can be a challenge so the earlier they develop a reading habit, the better. Oxford reading scheme has a careful structure designed to support the teaching in class and to ensure that when a child takes a book home they can read it successfully, build confidence and make progress.
Alongside the scheme we have introduced Oxford Reading Buddy which is a digital reading service that supports each child’s personal reading journey, motivates them to succeed, and provides teachers with valuable insights into their attainment and development. It is an easy to use and fully optimised digital platform that can be embedded into literacy lessons in order to seamlessly support independent reading. There are coaching eBooks that are accompanied by a personalised ‘Reading Buddy’ who models key comprehension strategies, supporting children as they read
An extensive eBook library, with hundreds of eBooks from loved and trusted Oxford series such as Oxford Reading Tree, Treetops, and Project X, providing children with extra practice and consolidating their learning
Quizzes that are carefully matched to each eBook, as well as further quizzes for Oxford’s print books that teachers may already in their schools, deepening and developing children’s comprehension skills
Each child has been assigned a password so that they can access the Reading buddy scheme at home which is intended to enhance their reading experience not replace written texts.
At St Joseph’s school our primary aim is to foster a love of reading in our pupils which will last them a lifetime and give them the skills to be fully literate individuals.
In Reception we follow a phonics teaching programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’. It builds on the activities the children have already experienced in their pre-school setting and prepares them for early reading and writing.
We place great emphasis on handwriting and presentation skills across the school and have high expectations of this in all subject areas. Children learn to join their letters from an early age using the cursive style of handwriting.
From Reception, children are encouraged to express their own ideas in a written form in order to communicate with others for different purposes. Children progress from making simple marks on paper to recognisable letter shapes. They learn the alphabet and letter sounds and begin to spell the first high frequency words.
During Key Stage 1, children will progress to writing phrases and sentences and spelling more complex words. They will begin to develop a sense of audience and improve the quality of their story writing. They will learn to spell more complex words.
By the end of Key Stage 2, children will have gained a wider vocabulary and will have a developing sense of the art of writing. They will have experienced writing in a range of genres and for a variety of purposes, using grammar and punctuation effectively. They will be able to write in paragraphs and increase the complexity of their sentences.
The Big Write
As part of our continued drive to enhance learning in Literacy at St Joseph’s, we encourage the children to develop their extended writing in a ‘Big Write’. It is based on Ros Wilson’s Big Writing scheme which follows the philosophy that if children can say it, they can write it. Big write often involves children bringing home talk homework once a week or fortnightly to discuss at home in preparation for writing the next day. Through Big Write we hope that our pupils will become more confident and ambitious in their writing.
Big write sessions take place once a week in Years 4, 5, and 6, and regularly in Years 1, 2 and 3. In reception, children take part in The Big Talk. The sessions are an hour and half dedicated purely to writing (one hour in KS1). The Big Write session begins with developing four elements of writing –Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation, through engaging activities. This gives our pupils the necessary tools to write with confidence across a range of genres. The sessions include time for children to plan their writing and teachers create a special atmosphere for the writing session, such as background music, special books and pens.
In reception class, the children take part in ‘The Big Talk.’ It is vital that children develop their language skill through talking, enabling them to progress with their writing skills. Each fortnight, children are given a topic to talk about at home. The following day, pupils have the opportunity to talk about their ideas.
Below are some examples of our Big Write from Years 4 and 6:
Here are some quotes from our children:
“It’s fun because you get to use your imagination.”
“You get lights, candles and music to help get you thinking.”
“My favourite part is that I get to make up my own story.”
“It’s really good because you get to make things up. I get to improve my handwriting and check spellings. The teacher lets me know how I’ve done.”