Our carefully crafted English curriculum is designed with the intent to equip children with the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes to allow them to develop a lively and enquiring mind. Here, at St Catharine’s, we recognise the importance of spoken language and how this underpins the development of reading and writing. With this in mind, we aim to ensure each and every one of our pupils can write and speak fluently so that they can communicate their ideas in various forms. We also encourage our children to express themselves effectively and to listen and learn from each other.
Our English curriculum is firmly embedded and established across all key stages, and through this, we offer a wealth of stimulating and challenging experiences. A broad variety of rich texts from every genre are studied, allowing the children to be enthused and immersed into a literary world. This will allow children to enjoy reading for knowledge, as well as pleasure and enjoyment, and write with a sense of purpose and audience.
Book in a box!
Through coherently planned and sequenced lessons, children learn the essentials of the English language such as phonics, spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence construction, coupled with the skills to help shape, structure and organise texts. These fundamental skills, including handwriting, are developed purposefully and integrated into word and sentence level work. We endeavour to create a language rich environment that promotes a culture of writing – every class includes a ‘word wall’ to help develop a sophisticated bank of vocabulary across all subject areas. English is not taught solely as a discreet subject, but instead, permeated and consolidated in a cross curricular approach allowing transferable skills to be applied to the wider curriculum. For example, the children can be taught the formalities of letter writing from the perspective of an evacuee in a History lesson. Children at St Catharine’s are recognised as ‘authors’, and are given ample opportunities to re-read, edit and improve their writing so that every piece of writing they produce is to the best of their ability and is work they are proud of.
We aim to provide access to a wide variety of differentiated reading materials to ensure our children become competent and confident readers. As well as having our own school library, all of our classrooms have a vibrant and inviting reading corner to encourage reading. Whole class and guided reading sessions take place on a regular basis which include a combination of teacher-led work, follow on activities, independent reading and sometimes to simply read for pleasure.
At St Catharine’s, children are taught to listen well, speak clearly, read enthusiastically and write effectively. Children are supported and encouraged as they express themselves creatively and imaginatively on their way to becoming enthusiastic and autonomous learners. We offer children a wealth of rich learning experiences, including outside speakers, theatre productions, drama groups and role play. These opportunities are a fundamental building block to unlocking potential and helping children to become confident in all areas of language. Each year group is involved in speaking and performing to an audience, for example class assemblies, reading in church, productions, presentations and Junior Speaks. Every March, we also celebrate ‘World Book Day’ and hold events within school to promote a love of reading and raise the profile.
Phonetic knowledge is developed through structured daily phonic lessons. We use the Read, Write, Inc programme to deliver a highly successful, rigorous literacy programme which is carefully matched to the new curriculum. Children progress through 3 sets of sounds, allowing them to learn the essential ‘building blocks’ of words to help them read and spell with greater fluency.
Our robust assessment approach means that we can track pupil progress and attainment regularly. It is evident from our consistently high results that our bespoke, innovative English curriculum, including the RWI programme, ignites interest, sparks curiosity and captures engagement, thus enabling children to become articulate and enthusiastic learners with high aspirations and ambitions. Our disadvantaged and SEN children make equally as good progress as they are exposed to a wealth of rich vocabulary and stimulating learning experiences. We have received a letter on two separate occasions from Nick Gibb MP (Minister of State for School Standards) congratulating us on our successes and being in the top 2% of schools for the progress that our children make between KS1 and KS2 in writing and reading, ‘we want to ensure that every child has the necessary fluency in reading and writing to prepare them for a successful secondary education and beyond, and your school has provided this.’