English Overview
The development of children’s language is crucial to their success across the curriculum.  We want all children to be excellent communicators, to listen actively and to speak with confidence.  Children are helped to develop a love of reading and to become skilful and imaginative writers.

At St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School, literacy skills are taught throughout the Creative Curriculum in order for children to communicate appropriately and effectively. We teach English daily as a discrete subject from Year 1 to Year 6 using ‘Power of Reading’, putting children’s literature at the heart of our learning whilst creating a whole school culture of reading for pleasure.

The Power of Reading engages children in the literacy curriculum using high quality books and proven and creative teaching approaches such as book talk and discussion, drama, role-play, debating and art. The study of one book over half a term allows the children to deepen their understanding of themes and character development and gives them plentiful opportunities for text analysis and writing across different genres. 

We use ‘Talk for Writing’ teaching techniques for each new genre of writing. ‘Talk for Writing’ enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. Our children start to use these methods in the EYFS and quickly become familiar with the use of story maps and orally rehearsing using actions and planning their writing using specific templates.

Every class has a weekly extended writing session which is linked to their creative curriculum (Cornerstones) topic. These sessions are intended to give the children opportunities to write independently, at length across a range of genres and subject areas (history, geography and science), whilst building their stamina for writing. We also plan weekly writing opportunities in RE.

At St Thomas’ we use cursive handwriting from Year 1 upwards. Children in Nursery and Reception are exposed to both cursive and none cursive script.

Many opportunities are provided for pupils to practise and extend their reading across a variety of subjects. Reading for pleasure and enjoyment is given a high priority; classrooms are well resourced with quality texts.

All children read individually to an adult at least once a week. Parents support their child with learning to read, by listening to their child read the books that are taken home from school each day.  Home and school communicate about children’s reading through the use of a reading record book.

Guided Reading
Guided reading is a teacher led session in which a small group of pupils learn and apply reading skills. Each child has their own copy of the text, which is carefully chosen to match the reading ability of the group and challenge individuals appropriately. Within the small group, pupils have the opportunity to question, partake in discussion and develop reading comprehension skills. 

The initial teaching of reading is supported using ‘Jolly Phonics’ in the EYFS. This is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children. The programme follows the government initiative ‘Letters and Sounds’, which forms the basis for phonics teaching in KS1. Opportunities are also given during Key Stage 2 for further consolidation of phonics.

Some useful websites

Learn English Kids

BBC Bite Size

Crick Web

Top Marks

Oxford Owl