At St John’s CE (VC) Primary School we believe that English is a fundamental life skill. English develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.
At St John’s we aim to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word. We believe that developing a love of our language in our children is vital in achieving success at school and later in life.
Intent – What we are trying to achieve?
• At St John’s we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing; write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning.
• We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge base in written and spoken English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
• Children will meet the National Curriculum expectations in English, which will be taught by highly qualified, enthusiastic staff who will support children to develop mastery of creative writing through genre-based teaching and whole-class guided reading sessions to inspire enthusiasm and interest.
• In English, children will develop the skills to read, write, speak and listen and develop a real understanding and appreciation of the world learning from the best that has been developed and spoken. By reading a wide range of genres such as historical fiction, classic fiction, traditional tales, poetry, myths and legends they will be presented with high-quality texts as a model of their writing.
Implementation – How do we translate our vision into practice?
• We have a rigorous and well-organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. English is taught using genres that are specific to each year group and revisited as part of spaced learning. Talk for writing is encouraged in EYFS and KS1 which prepares our children to become confident speakers and writers. The principles of immersion, imitation and innovation are continued in KS2. Teachers plan lessons appropriate to their classes, but also ensure that cross-curricular links with the wider curriculum are woven into the programme of study where possible.
• Learning Objectives and Success criteria in every English lesson are set to guide children to achieve their potential. This ensures work is demanding and matches the aims of the curriculum. Teachers use shared, modelled and guided writing to scaffold children’s writing skills where necessary. We use Rosenshine’s Principle- I Do, We Do and You do.
• Quality First Teaching responds to the needs of all children. Spaced learning is a key focus of all formative and summative assessments with teachers actively marking work in lessons to identify misconceptions early.
• Editing skills are taught to develop mastery of the English language where children familiarise themselves with the necessary style of writing and begin to spot and fix errors independently with confidence.
Impact – What is the impact of our curriculum on the students?
• The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning, and transferrable skills. With the implementation of writing being well-established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children become more confident writers and by the time they reach Upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them, and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
• Children talk with passion during pupil voice opportunities about their experiences and can demonstrate a resilience harboured from learning within a safe, challenging environment.
• Children of all abilities and backgrounds achieve well in English. Children talk enthusiastically about their learning in English and are eager to further their learning in the next stages of their education.
• Children enjoy reading regularly, for information and for enjoyment/pleasure and they discuss books with excitement and interest.
• Children enjoy writing and use the features of different genres and styles. They can write for different purposes and audiences.
• Children are proud of their writing, and they know that others value their writing. Their skills progress (grammar and punctuation) throughout school is evident in children’s books.
• Next steps marking provides positive support and directs the children on their next steps to improve their writing.
• Teachers moderate children’s work in school with the STA-approved moderator to ensure accurate assessments are made.
• Teachers track children’s progress each half term. This informs future planning and any further intervention needed.
• Assessment Tests in Reading and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar are used in all year groups to quality assure teacher judgments.
• Pupil progress meetings each term ensure different groups and individual progress is monitored by SLT and interventions are organised to support progress. Staff are supported via bespoke CPD where needed.
At St. John’s CE (VC) Primary School, our aim is to instil a passion for reading and confidence with words - written and spoken - in all our children
Our Reading & Writing Journey
Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.
'All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.'
National Curriculum 2014
Making a Strong Start using Read Write Inc.
Right from the beginning of Reception, we use Read Write Inc. Phonics which is a highly successful English programme created by Ruth Miskin. All Reading Teachers at St. John’s have received training and support from Ruth Miskin Training, rated Outstanding by the Department for Education, to ensure we meet our aim for all children to become confident and enthusiastic readers. The Read Write Inc. Phonics programme is carefully matched to the curriculum, giving every child at St. John’s the best chance of success.
Reception to Year 2 children is taught using Read Write Inc. Phonics as the main EYFS and KS1 early reading programme but it is also taught as an intervention for children in Years 3 and 4. In addition to this, Read Write Inc. Fresh Start is a phonics programme with more age-appropriate resources for older children which we use as and when required in Years 5 and 6.
Read Write Inc. Progression Grid
Please see the table below for expected progress term-by-term for Read Write Inc. Phonics in EYFS and KS1.
Expected Progress in RWI. Groups
October: know most Set 1 sounds and blend orally (Set 1 B)
December: know Set 1 sounds and read words by blending (Set 1 C)
December: Pink (know Set 2 sounds)
May: Yellow (know Set 3 sounds)
April: RWI Spelling and Comprehension
How can you support your child?
During the academic year, we hold regular parent workshops for early reading. We also have more information on the individual class pages. Follow the link below to read out parent booklets for more information on RWI Phonics and how you can support your child at home.
For further information and tutorials on how to support your child in learning to read from Ruth Miskin, go to: http://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents/
At St John’s, we recognise the importance of the relationship between reading and writing because we know that when reading and writing are taught together, the benefits are greater than when they are taught separately. We believe that the love for reading initiates the love of writing too.
At St. John’s, we have chosen to teach skills from National Curriculum from Reception through to Year 6 as part of our commitment to ensure all our children have the opportunity to engage with a rich range of quality texts so that they develop into engaged and informed readers and writers, who understand the relationship between reading and writing.
A greater emphasis is on teaching reading and writing through the use of high-quality books/extracts and creative teaching approaches. Children are immersed in the text through music, art, drama, discussion and role-play. Other approaches include responding to illustrations, ‘Book Talk’, story mapping and bookmaking. Children take ownership of the text and engage with it deeply. It also enables children to deepen their understanding of texts and provides a meaningful context for writing.
We follow a genre-focused writing approach. The structure is anchored around the writing process and allows our children to master each genre and produce a range of written outcomes as they move through KS1 and KS2.
Using an evidence-based process, it places a strong emphasis on creativity alongside the technical aspects of writing. Children are encouraged to draw on their own experiences and interests to write, to create, and to improve their writing skills. The approach fosters a strong sense of child agency, and encourages a deep immersion in the writing process, to help children believe in themselves as writers.
The Writing Process
Time is prioritised to focus on developing the writing process with children as they move through school. The key elements of the writing process are planning, drafting, editing and revising, proofreading and then publishing or sharing.
Modelling is a key element in the teaching of the writing process, with teachers using 'think out loud' to guide children through how to craft a piece of writing. By modelling, the expert writer lets less experienced writers in on the big secret … What is going on in the head of a more experienced writer? By modelling, we demonstrate options for planning, strategic problem solving, self-monitoring, reviewing, revising and proofreading. We also show how techniques can be used or applied; we work through challenges and teach good grammar. And we do it all within the context of authentic writing!
We follow a Mastery approach to English through the programme ‘Pathways to Write.’ Units of work are delivered using high quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for writing. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the writing activities provided. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Write approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary.
You will find the end of year expectations for writing, reading and spoken language for each of our year groups in the Parents > Writing tab.
At St John’s, we are committed to reading aloud to our children every day.
Reading aloud enables all children to access quality texts but it also enables the teacher to model expressive and fluent reading to the children.
Our guided reading approach is informed by extensive research into comprehension strategy instruction, as recommended by the EEF. The aims of the sessions are to engage with texts, respond to them, talk about them and develop a deeper understanding (comprehension).
Once children have completed RWI Phonics, they take part in daily guided reading sessions. During the sessions, we focus on developing the key comprehension strategies through careful modelling and supported practice.
The sessions utilise a wide variety of texts and seek to:
- Encourage critical and evaluative thinking through use of open prompts, questions and invitations
- Encourage reference to the text to support their thinking
- Build towards group dialogue
- Encourage personal responses from the children
- Enable children to support their opinions with evidence from the text and to change and adapt their ideas in response to others
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
― Emilie Buchwald
Evidence strongly suggests that parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading.
Key findings from the evidence include:
• Parental involvement in a child’s literacy has been reported as a more powerful force than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education (Flouri and Buchanan, 2004 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006);
• Children whose home experiences promote the view that reading is a source of entertainment are likely to become intrinsically motivated to read (Baker, Serpell and Sonnenschein, 1995 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006);
• Children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued (Baker and Scher, 2002 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006).
Reading Books Coming Home
Access to reading materials at the correct level is vital in setting children up to succeed in reading. Carefully matched reading books will be sent home for your children to read independently or read to you. They will know all of the sounds used in the text because they match the sounds in the books they are being taught in class. This means they will be able to read the text with fluency and confidence – like a storyteller. They will enjoy reading to someone else or to themselves.
This does not mean the text is too easy for them – it means they are reading at the correct level. We do not send texts home the children cannot read because we always want them to be set up to succeed in their reading.
EYFS and KS1
What will my child bring home to read?
‘Last and past’ Storybooks or Ditty Sheets: contain sounds and words the children know. This is the Storybook they have just read at school and maybe some they have read before, for extra practice. Please don’t worry that books are too easy. Children enjoy re-reading stories they know well. Their speed and understanding improve on every read. Please have this book in school every day.
Book Bag Books: matched to the Storybooks children read in school and used for extra practice. They include many of the same reading activities that we use in class and include parent guidance. Please have this book in school every day.
Speedy Green Word Cards: challenge your child to read the words speedily. Set a timer – can they beat yesterday’s time? Learning to read these words speedily with help your child to make good progress with their reading in school.
RWI eBooks: these eBooks are for children to read at home after the ‘third read’ of the book in class. At the end of each eBook, there is a short quiz to consolidate the sounds and words encountered in the eBook. This is the Storybook they have just read at school and maybe some they have read before, for extra practice.
What else might my child bring home to read?
Speed Sounds Cards: for children to practise reading speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.
‘Share with me’ Banded Books: this is an enrichment text designed to widen their reading experience. It may contain sounds that your child has not come across yet in their phonics sessions which is why it is a ‘share with me' book.
Library Books: your child may also bring home a library book to share with you. Read these stories to children, with your children or encourage them to retell the story by looking at the pictures. They are not expected to read the story by themselves. Have a look at our Recommended Reads to see which books your child can read at home too.
Once your child has completed the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme, they will no longer receive a RWI. Story Book and RWI Book Bag Book to take home. Instead, please see the provision below.
Colour Banded Book (Collins Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree…) – This book is designed to build your child's fluency at an age-appropriate level and broaden their reading experience. This book will be changed by their class teacher. Please have this book in school every day.
Library Book - This book is to encourage your child to develop their own interest in books and is selected by your child. Read these books with your children or to them. At first, they are not expected to read the books by themselves.
Book Bands Overview
Additional free reading e-books: https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page
Our Approach to Spelling
We teach spelling patterns to our children so they understand how patterns of spelling are applied to spelling when writing.
How are children assessed?
Weekly tests and end of half-termly practice tests assess children’s spelling progress using the same format as the statutory assessments in England. Tracking spreadsheets enable us to record and track individual children’s progress and identify units or concepts pupils might need to be retaught.
During the teaching activities each week, a number of assessment opportunities are also planned into the programme. The emphasis is on the importance of learning to spell, rather than being tested on spelling.
Our Approach to Handwriting
There are regular timetabled slots for handwriting to ensure that children build up their handwriting skills in KS1. We make the physical process of writing – handwriting – enjoyable from the start, so children see themselves as ‘writers’. We use mnemonics – memory pictures – to help children visualise the letter or join before they write it down. Children need to practise handwriting under the guidance of a teacher so they do not develop habits that will be difficult to undo later so we make sure that handwriting is always a guided activity.
We link handwriting to our Read Write Inc. Phonics in KS1 and there are three handwriting stages.
These lessons are taught while children read the Red, Green, Purple, Pink and Orange Storybooks.
Stage 1a: Children practise correct letter formation.
Stage 1b: Children learn where to place the letters on the writing line.
These lessons are taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. At this stage, children learn a mature style of writing that will lead to joined-up writing.
These lessons are also taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. At this stage, children learn the two basic joins: the arm join (diagonal) and the washing line join (horizontal) and the two variables for each join.
There are also memorable phrases that support the children to develop correct letter formation:
We want our children to be avid readers as we are a reading school.
A final thought...
Reading is the one ability that, once set in motion, has the capacity to feed itself, to grow exponentially, providing a base from which the possibilities are infinite.