English Lead: Mrs Sarah Owen
Learning in English within a primary school setting, should ignite a passion for reading and writing and also encourage a lifelong interest in exploring how languages work. If we learn to read and write fluently, as children, many doors will be open to us in life. If we do not learn to communicate effectively through the spoken and written word, we can face ongoing obstacles socially, emotionally, culturally, intellectually and spiritually. Being able to read for information, access ideas (new and old) and escape into an endless landscape of stories and experiences is key to children's healthy development. Learning how to write for different purposes, empowers us in myriad situations.
When we communicate, we connect to others. In a world where technological advancements have led to both opportunities and problems, in terms of how children experience and reach out to the world around them, it remains more important than ever that we are building all the skills of language at school and at home. From a mental health perspective, to be able to relax with a book can be one of life's great joys.
The spoken word and dramatic role play allow children (and adults) to explore how words can make us feel and the power that they have in a range of situations. In particular, we know that children learn through play from an early age. Continuing to explore their changing world through drama, as they grow older, not only builds imagination but can also help children to connect to and make sense of their world and the people in it.
At Our Lady Immaculate, we adopt a creative approach to reading, writing and grammar where the skills are seen as interdependent and there is a focus on these across the curriculum- not just in English lessons. Our aim is to promote high standards of language and literacy; a genuine love of reading and writing and the development of a rich and wide vocabulary through a focus on word power in all subjects. . Pupils are given many opportunities to communicate their ideas to others and, through their reading and listening skills, are able to consider and reflect upon others’ ideas and their own learning.
The environment and the organisation of our classrooms provide rich and stimulating language experiences for children. There are also regular opportunities to speak in whole school collective worship, services, masses and productions. Pupil voice is encouraged through School Council and various leadership opportunities open to children within our community.
Enjoyment is the most important aspect of reading and we are keen to develop enthusiastic readers who will continue to read for pleasure and purpose throughout their lives. Reading takes place throughout the school day across all curriculum subjects as well as the formal teaching and guided reading in class. From an early age, pupils take books home to share with adults. As they become more proficient readers, they extend their reading matter to a wider range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books, which they choose from our well-sourced school library and class libraries. We aim for children to read widely- including modern classics alongside key texts from our cultural heritage and from those around the world. Our aim is for children to read at an age-appropriate but challenging level. Where children need extra support, this is given. The Parent Teacher Association generously provides funding so that we can keep our class libraries updated on a regular basis.
Writing is a learning medium that extends across the curriculum and children need to write as a means of communication and as a way of clarifying their own thoughts and opinions. The children are encouraged to develop their cognitive skills, imagination and personal expression through a range of writing tasks using clear, concise language. Writing is constantly celebrated in class, through displays around the school, assemblies and visiting the headteacher to share their work. We offer children the opportunity to take part in writing events and write with real purpose where possible. Writing is often topic-based and enhanced by the many school trips and visits across other subject areas. Within the past year, we have shared writing with local businesses and enjoyed visits by theatre companies and speakers.
From Reception to Year 2, children follow the Song of Sounds phonics programme. Spelling patterns, rather than traditional lists, are taught within class and set homework activities follow the investigative approach, allowing children to develop their skills in applying their knowledge of spelling. In addition, the children learn the list of words found in the Spelling Appendix from the National Curriculum for their year group. In KS1, weekly dictation activities consolidate the spelling patterns of the week.
KS2 uses words from the National Curriculum 2014 Spelling Appendix and topic based words. Weekly spelling patterns are explored and a range of learned and unseen words are tested the following week. Time is allocated for weekly testing of spellings. Proof-reading, editing and redrafting are also focus skills.
Children have the opportunity to choose reading books from a carefully selected range of books within their own classroom. The books are rotated regularly to ensure the children have exposure to as many high quality texts as possible.
A range of reading schemes are used within the school including those listed below: