At SMC, the skills of literacy are at the forefront of everything we do.
We consider reading skills to be fundamental and an early priority is to ensure that children develop the tools for reading. We want children that can read fluently and with good understanding, and that read widely and often, both for pleasure and information. This is vital to ensure that they succeed during their time at school and beyond. We use our well stocked library to introduce children to a wide selection of books, as well as a space to hear and share texts. Each term, each class visits Faversham library and all children are encouraged to have their own library card with which they can borrow books.
We believe that a secure phonic knowledge is key to children’s success as both readers and writers. We provide daily phonics lessons, as well as regular reading opportunities, where books are closely matched the children’s ability. These sessions equip the children with the fundamental strategies which enable them to read confidently with fluency and expression as they progress into KS2.
Our love of reading and experiential learning underpins the opportunities provided for writing across a range of purposes. Our aim is to ensure that children write clearly, accurately and coherently; utilising different writing styles for different purposes and audiences whilst developing a wide vocabulary and a solid understanding of the grammar rules and terminology appropriate for their age group, and which are built on progressively. By focusing on one purpose a term, children have several opportunities to apply and embed their skills as they develop their own style as creative writers.
Through a robust spelling system, children regularly have the opportunity to explore rules, patterns and spelling exceptions. They are challenged to be aspirational in improving their spelling each week by reflecting on their mistakes and identifying strategies from a ‘spelling menu’ in order to become accurate and confident spellers that can apply their skills in their writing.
Speaking and Listening Intent
Speaking and listening runs through everything that we do; children are encouraged to discuss, question and justify their ideas across the curriculum in order to develop their learning. Through oral rehearsal, children become more confident to articulate ideas through writing.
At St Mary of Charity Primary School, we deliver a high-quality English curriculum that encompasses the following key elements:
1. Speaking and Listening
We prioritise the development of pupils' speaking and listening skills across the school providing opportunities for meaningful discussions, debates, and presentations. By incorporating drama and role-play activities, we encourage pupils to express themselves confidently and articulate their ideas fluently. Regular class dialogues and debates foster a collaborative and respectful environment where pupils can learn from and respect diverse viewpoints. At our school, this is a particular focus in the EYFS where the skills of Speaking and Listening are crucial.
At SMC, Reading is of the upmost importance. We foster a love for Reading by offering a broad and balanced curriculum that incorporates a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. Each term’s English unit is driven by a carefully chosen text that motivates and challenges pupils. Our well-stocked library and reading corners in classrooms provide access to a diverse collection of books, ensuring every pupil finds texts that engage and challenge them. At our school, we use Accelerated Reader from Year 2 to scaffold the choice of Reading books. We allocate dedicated time for independent reading and whole-class shared reading sessions, enabling teachers to model good reading habits and develop pupils' comprehension skills. We promote parental involvement by encouraging reading at home, establishing effective partnerships and organising regular book fairs and events.
At our school we have a clear and consistent ‘writing journey’. We provide a purposeful and stimulating environment that develops pupils' writing skills across a variety of genres, fostering creativity, clarity, and originality.
In each term’s English unit, there is always an element of ‘Writing to Entertain.’ This includes setting and character descriptions, poetry and narrative. Each term also has one or two units that are either ‘Writing to Inform’, ‘Writing to Persuade’ or ‘Writing to Discuss’. Each of these elements has set outcomes e.g. a letter, poster, newspaper.
Each writing ‘block’ lasts 2-3 weeks and should include:
- The specific reading lessons according to the Long-Term Plan
- Specific SPaG coverage for the unit- We explicitly teach grammar, punctuation, and spelling through engaging lessons that make connections to the real-world applications of writing.
- An element of speaking and listening
- An element of planning
- The opportunity for children to write at length
- The opportunity for editing within a lesson
- The opportunity to publish a piece once per term
Pupils are encouraged to apply the skills they have learnt in the English Lessons to write at length in other subjects too. Peer and self-assessment activities encourage pupils to reflect upon their writing, identify areas for improvement, and develop a growth mindset. We celebrate and display pupils' written work, providing them with a sense of pride and recognition for their efforts.
4. Vocabulary Development
We recognise the importance of vocabulary development and explicitly teach pupils a wide range of words, including subject-specific terminology. ‘Word of the Day’ is a key element of each English lesson and encourages pupils to explore, manipulate and apply vocabulary from the text they are studying.
We integrate vocabulary instruction across all curriculum areas, promoting word-rich environments that support pupils in understanding and articulating complex ideas. Widgit word banks are used throughout the school to allow pupils to revisit new words and phrases, reinforcing the retention and application of their expanding vocabulary.
5. Phonics and Early Reading
In the early years and Key Stage 1, we prioritize the teaching of phonics using the systematic and synthetic phonics program Little Wandle. This approach supports pupils in acquiring the essential skills needed to decode words accurately, fluently, and independently. We provide a range of decodable books and reading materials that progressively develop pupils' reading skills, ensuring a solid foundation for their literacy journey.
At SMC the Spelling Long Term Plan covers all of the National Curriculum objectives for Years 1-6 and the Statutory Words for KS2. The plan is organised into termly units with similar threads grouped where possible. Word lists and guidance for each objective can be found on the SMC planning document that sits behind this.
For more detail on any of the elements identified above please click on the English Handbook below...