At St. Paul’s Catholic Primary School we offer a high quality education that teaches our pupils to write and speak fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
The overarching aim for English in the current curriculum (2014), is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop a love of literature through widespread reading and writing for enjoyment.
Home Learning 2020/21
Throughout both national school lockdown periods, our pupils have continued to do lots of reading and writing at home. Using a blended approach staff have used live lessons, pre-recorded lessons and set tasks to support the teaching of English at home. English work has been set and taught daily; spellings have been sent home weekly; reading books were sent home with the children to support their fluency and comprehension skills during lockdown; and children have been asked to write using a pen or pencil at least once a day.
All work has been marked using an adapted version of the School Marking Policy for 2020/2021.
See below for examples:
We place a huge importance on spoken language at St Paul's. We want our pupils to be effective communicators, with an ability to articulate their opinions and views. Pupils are encouraged to ask questions to help them extend their understanding and knowledge. The link between spoken language and writing is an important one and we believe that being strong and effective communicators will support us in becoming resilient and confident writers. Pupils are encouraged to verbalise their ideas with their talk partners whilst writing. At St Paul's, we utilise on every opportunity to allow the children's oracy skills to grow. An example of this is the debating competition which Year 5 take part in each year. Not only does it support pupils to express and justify their own opinions, it also provides a platform for them to consider the opinions and feelings of others.
As a school, we work closely with the company Northern Arts Factory who come in and run drama sessions for the children which are permeated with speaking and listening exercises. Children from Reception to Year 6 have all taken part in these sessions which are planned specifically to support the English text being taught in their year group. Click the link below for more information.
Spelling and Phonics
In Reception, Key Stage 1 and, where appropriate, in lower Key Stage 2, pupils follow the Floppy Phonics systematic synthetic programme of phonics. This scheme enables children to access high quality resources which supports the teaching of phonics, whilst also enriching the children's vocabulary and language comprehension. Using the Floppy Phonics programme, our staff teach the letter/sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading, spelling and handwriting. The order of which the sounds are introduced in this teaching sequences matches the order set out in 'Letters and Sounds'.
Whole class phonics lessons are taught daily in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 with additional smaller group sessions used to support and consolidate sounds when needed. In the Spring and Summer terms of Year 2 and in Key Stage 2, teaching key spelling patterns and rules becomes the focus. From Year 2-Year 6, we follow the 'No Nonsense Spelling' scheme which supports the explicit teaching of spelling rules and patterns. Whole class spelling lessons are timetabled three times per week and children are given a weekly list of words which follow the taught spelling rules. Within class, children have opportunity to learn and practise the spellings using multi-sensory games and are encouraged to apply them in their writing and recognise them when reading. Alongside these rules, pupils also learn the required word lists, as set out in the National Curriculum (see below).
In Reception and Key Stage 1, pre-cursive handwriting is taught before cursive handwriting. Each year group allows pupils to practice their handwriting as often as is appropriate, which is at least weekly. Using cursive handwriting, we aim to improve presentation in all subjects across the school.
As a school we have adopted the Letter-join scheme to ensure we teach a systematic method of handwriting throughout school. We aim to produce work of a high standard, using consistent joins and good letter formation. For more information about the scheme, please click on the green icon below.
In addition to this scheme, Year 2, and a group of targeted Year 5 children, took part in the NFER 'Let Handwriting Shine' project last year. This involved staff training and input from the University of Leeds, to deliver high quality handwriting teaching and intervention. This year, the trained staff are working with the current Year 2 and Year 5 to continue to deliver these strategies and techniques.
We try to move the children onto pen as quickly as possible and reward consistent effort with a pen licence. By the end of Key Stage 2 our children have adapted the recommended style and are fluent in their own methods; we welcome this variety and individual flair for writing. Where children struggle, support is offered through addition intervention, adaptive technology and specialist resources. This includes: 'hand-huggers', different pen types and coloured exercise books.
We recognise the difficulty left-handed children can have when learning to write and make allowances for hand smudges and some inconsistency. For support with left-handed early writing, please see: http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/kids_help.html#writing
"A room without books is like a body without a soul"
Reading is embedded throughout our curriculum at St. Paul's and we have a strong emphasis on using high quality texts in a cross-curricular manner to immerse the children in stories and books. We aim to promote and encourage a love of reading for all children throughout the school. There is strong evidence linking reading for pleasure and educational outcomes. We know that academic attainment is of vital importance, but the benefits of reading for pleasure go beyond this and stretch throughout a person's life. The research finds that reading for pleasure can result in increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reductions in the symptoms of depression and dementia, and improved well-being.
At St Paul’s, we have a well stocked library, regularly updated with new releases, that is available for pupils and their families to use regularly, and a group of children help Mrs Walker to run the library at lunchtimes. In Year 6 children take part in the annual Leeds Book Awards. This involves reading and reviewing books and attending an awards ceremony. 'Leeds Little Free Library' have also installed one of their fantastic libraries in our Key Stage Two playground, which is available to all children and families to donate and take children's books.
Whole class Reading lessons take place in each year group with additional smaller group sessions used in Reception and Year 1 to support the younger children's fluency and comprehension skills. Throughout school we use the Reading VIPERS approach to develop children's analytical reading skills.
There is an expectation that every child reads at home for at least 15/20 minutes a day, initially with an adult, but increasingly independently in Upper Key Stage Two, as pupils complete the school reading scheme and become free readers. In Reception and Key Stage, children use the Floppy Phonics Oxford Reading Tree books which correlate to the Floppy Phonics sounds taught in class. The books are supplemented with Rigby Star and Bug Club books where necessary.
'Writing floats on a sea of talk'
We know that children draw on their experience of reading when developing their own writing. When children have explored a range of texts across genres, they form an understanding and appreciation of how language functions and how best to use this when writing themselves. To this end, we endeavour to choose high quality, engaging texts as a stimulus for writing, including both novels and picture books. We appreciate the benefits gained from allowing sufficient time for high quality discussions and conversations around writing and vocabulary as this aids the writing process. In addition to this, we also recognise the benefits of film and pictures as a stimulus for writing, so use websites such as the Literacy Shed, Jane Considine's Sentence Stacking and Pobble 365 to fire the children’s imaginations. Finally, drama, real life experiences and creative teaching methods all enhance English lessons for the children at St Paul’s and provide them with real audiences for their writing. Where possible, we try to incorporate other types of media to enhance their learning, using apps on the iPads ( eg. iMovie, Bike Baron and Adobe Spark ).
Spelling, grammar and phonics are embedded in the teaching of writing, with staff planning opportunities to use newly learned grammar and punctuation, in context. So, while some aspects of grammar and punctuation are taught discretely, it is also fed into all lessons, and through marking and feedback. We want children to have a love and curiosity when it comes to vocabulary. Each class has a 'Word of the Week' which introduces challenging vocabulary in order to help broaden the children's writing experiences.
We train our children from early in Key Stage One, to edit and improve their work. Following our marking policy, staff use a variety of methods such as whole class feedback and 'yellow boxing' to help support and advance the children's editing skills.
Staff have benefitted from training, with both Philip Webb and Isabella Wallace, to provide staff with more tools to help to shape an exciting and creative English curriculum for our pupils. Writing is moderated regularly as a school and within our local family of schools. Last year, we invested in 'No More Marking', which provided us with the opportunity to compare the writing of the pupils at St Paul's, with schools across the country.
Writing is widely celebrated throughout school with a 'Writer of the Month' award in assembly; high quality writing on display within our classrooms and corridors; and opportunities for children to share their brilliant writing with a trip to Mr Bowker's office!