English at St Mary’s RC Primary School
At St Mary’s RC Primary School we use the following:
- RWI Phonics/Spelling programme
- CLPE Power of Reading
- Reading Explorers (Guided Reading)
Read Write Inc. Phonics
Read Write Inc. Phonics is an inclusive literacy programme for all children learning to read. It uses synthetic phonics to teach children the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to blend them to read and spell. The scheme includes a reading, writing and vocabulary building focus.
Reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to efficiently decode is essential. The RWI sessions are expected to occur each day with no exceptions, as the continuity and pace of the programme is key to accelerating the progress of children’s reading development.
We teach pupils to:
- decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
- read ‘tricky’ words on sight
- understand what they read
- read aloud with fluency and expression
- write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
- spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
- acquire good handwriting.
In addition, we teach pupils to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.
Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
Except for YR, we group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.
In YR we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – ‘tricky words’.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘tricky words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.
Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that pupils quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. We encourage them to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write independently. We make sure they write every day.
CLPE Power of Reading
Our new curriculum is rooted in literature and we use the CLPE Power of Reading scheme to enhance our English lessons by choosing quality texts to engage each year group.
The core purpose of our curriculum, is to ensure children, as the National Curriculum states:
- Read easily and fluently with good understanding
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary
- Use grammar correctly
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
Children are taught the importance of using grammar correctly, so they can communicate clearly and convey meaning effectively. Children meet examples of the grammar point they will study in the context of the story, playscript, poem or non-fiction text.
Alongside the main, extended writing activities, opportunities are taken regularly to create shorter pieces of writing. This allows children to focus on very specific skill, build up their confidence and stamina for writing, and develop their understanding of audience and purpose.
The greater the children’s vocabulary and the complexity of language they hear and read, the richer their writing will be. The stories, plays, poems and non-fiction texts in the curriculum all include ambitious vocabulary.
The National Curriculum places a huge emphasis upon spoken language. We aim to give children opportunities to articulate their thoughts and ideas out loud and to communicate what they know and understand. ‘Thinking out loud’ and orally rehearsing ideas ahead of speaking to an audience or writing ideas is a key skill which our Literacy and Language programme provides.
Once children have completed the Phonics programme and they will take part in daily 15 minute spelling sessions from Year 2 onwards.