English ~ Reading
At St Mawes Primary, we are passionate about reading and children's access to books. We belong to Cornwall Schools’ Library Service, so we get a large book exchange from the Library Van every term, and our library is regularly refreshed. Every classroom has an enticing book area, so the children can select books for reading for pleasure and for finding out more about the world. There are shared story sessions for the children; all adults read, entertain and thrill their classes with whole class reading daily, including sustained 'class stories', non fiction texts and poetry.
We strive to nurture life-long readers, who take pleasure in searching out new books to read, exploring and discovering through literature. Our children’s reading experience is much more than the reading book which comes home from school. Reading is happening all the time in our school. It is taught in specific reading and English lessons, but our children are practising and using their reading constantly across all subjects too. Our children’s reading journey begins with ‘learning to read’ and moves on into ‘reading to learn’. It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of reading. Without the ability to read, our children cannot access other subjects properly. Reading is empowering and wonderful.
Building on a love of reading, we teach English as a discrete subject and in a cross curricular way. Reading Practice Sessions and focused sentence level work may be taught outside the normal English lesson. English is at the heart of curriculum planning so that subject matter from other curriculum areas is available as content or stimulus for speaking, listening, reading and writing. All curriculum areas involve some aspects of English.
As with all of our practices at St Mawes Primary, we are always reflecting and improving. We are continuing to target the teaching of reading and we also focus closely on spelling. Regular, rapid, daily phonics is used to supplement learning in the younger classes of the school and there have been parent information sessions to enable improved and understanding support from home. We teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.
English ~ Writing
At St Mawes Primary, we teach writing using a variety of strategies to inspire children's work. We take many principles from the Talk for Writing philosophy, as laid out by Pie Corbett, and combine these with other techniques and ideas. Children use drama and text-interrogation techniques, as well as spending time unpicking the technical features of the text type and investigating language and structure. With all of these tools and techniques at their disposal, children are able to use high-level, quality literacy texts to inspire high quality writing.
Children are encouraged to edit and redraft their work, using a range of tools to support them in their work. We use a range of peer, teacher and self-marking where children use structured marking ladders and success to assess their work.
Assessment is both formative and summative, with children being given a combination of written and verbal feedback to inform their improvements and next steps. Teachers will assess children's writing against the objectives of the National Curriculum and use these to inform their planning for each written topic.
All aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum at St Mawes Primary, and we expect knowledge and skills taught explicitly in English lessons to transfer into other subjects, so improving cross curricular writing standards and consolidating and deepening skills.
Spelling is taught discretely throughout the whole school, and is reinforced in all subjects too. In Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, the children’s spelling lists follow their phonic knowledge to reinforce and embed this. Moving on from phonics, children have lists based on spelling patterns following statutory word lists and patterns.
We teach Grammar in a variety of ways. Children experience whole-class Grammar sessions in-line with the National Curriculum. Furthermore, some English lessons will have a grammar focus when teaching writing skills, particularly when looking at advanced punctuation, which has an impact on the meaning of sentences.
Handwriting is part of our daily lives. Time devoted to the teaching and learning of letter formation in the early years pays off as legible writing that can be produced comfortably, at speed and with little conscious effort allows children to attend to the higher-level aspects of writing composition and content. It is also a movement skill and one which is best taught directly by demonstration, explanation and rehearsal. We make sure that our children have lots of opportunities to develop their core strength, so supporting the development of gross, then fine, motor skills. The principal aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process, which frees pupils to focus on the content of their writing.
In the Early Years we follow a scheme called Write Dance which incorporates fine and gross motor movements into a story set to music. Our handwriting scheme in KS1 is called ‘Penpals’ and we follow this to teach handwriting in a structured way.
At St Mawes Primary we aim to provide our children with the ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language. In school, oracy is a powerful tool for learning; by teaching our children to become more effective speakers and listeners we empower them to better understand themselves, each other and the world around them. Through a high-quality oracy education, pupils learn through talk and to talk. This is when they develop and deepen their subject knowledge and understanding through talk in the classroom. These oracy opportunities are planned, designed, modelled, scaffolded and structured to enable our children to learn the skills needed to talk and listen effectively.