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.
Spellings and Phonics
In Reception, Key Stage 1 and, where appropriate, in lower Key Stage 2, pupils now follow the Letters and Sounds programme of phonics. Phonics lessons are daily in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Towards the end of Year 2 and as the children move into Key Stage 2, spelling work is focused around the rules of spelling. Pupils are given a weekly list of words that demonstrate the spelling rules. Within class, children will have an opportunity to learn and practise the spellings using multi-sensory games and will be encouraged to apply them in their writing and recognise them when reading.
Alongside these rules, pupils also need to 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.
In addition to this, Year 2, and a group of our 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 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 wellbeing.
At St Paul’s, we have a well stocked library 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. We also use the School Library Service to supplement our literature within classrooms and across the curriculum. In Year 6, children are invited to be involved in lunchtime reading clubs and we take part in the annual Leeds Book Awards. This involves reading and reviewing books and attending an awards ceremony. Reception children also benefit from having a Year 6 buddy, who reads with them every Friday afternoon. '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.
Reading lessons take place in each year group and we are shifting towards whole class reading lessons, using the Reading Vipers approach, to develop children’s analytical reading skills. Where appropriate, children will read together in small groups, to suit specific group needs.
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.
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.
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 and Pobble 365 to fire the children’s imaginations.
Finally, drama, real life experiences and creative teaching methods all enhance Literacy 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 discreetly, it is also fed into all lessons, and through marking and feedback.
Staff have benefitted from training this year, 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 provides us with the opportunity to compare the writing of the pupils at St Paul's, with schools across the country.
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.
Year 5 will be taking part in a debating competition once again this 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.