St Filumena’s Catholic Primary School – English Curriculum Statement
At St Filumena’s Catholic Primary School we want every child to be happy and enthusiastic learners of English, and to be eager to achieve their very best in order to fulfill their God-given talents. We firmly believe that the recipe for success is high-quality first-wave teaching in English, which is central to the life of our happy, caring school.
Our guided reading approach is informed by extensive research into comprehension strategy instruction, as recommended by the EEF.
The aims of the sessions are to engage with texts, respond to them, talk about them and developing deeper understanding (comprehension).
Once children have completed RWI Phonics, they take part in daily guided reading sessions. During the sessions, we focus on developing key comprehension strategies through careful modelling and supported practice.
The sessions utilise a wide variety of texts and seek to:
- Encourage critical and evaluative thinking through use of open prompts, questions and invitations
- Encourage reference to the text to support their thinking
- Build towards group dialogue
- Encourage personal responses from the children
- Enable children to support their opinions with evidence from the text and to change and adapt their ideas in response to others
We use VIPERS in KS2 for Guided reading. VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas that we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
― Emilie Buchwald
Evidence strongly suggests that parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading.
Key findings from the evidence include:
• Parental involvement in a child’s literacy has been reported as a more powerful force than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education (Flouri and Buchanan, 2004 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006);
• Children whose home experiences promote the view that reading is a source of entertainment are likely to become intrinsically motivated to read (Baker, Serpell and Sonnenschein, 1995 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006);
• Children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued (Baker and Scher, 2002 – cited in Clark and Rumbold, 2006).
Reading Books Coming Home
This book will be changed by their teacher and is matched to your child’s RWI group. These books are specifically chosen as each child can access every word in the book. Parents are asked to follow the program as described with children being asked to repeat reading the same book over a series of evenings in order to develop reading fluency and expression. At times, when needed teacher may decide to repeat reading books to embed understanding of the text. Please have this book in school every day.
Parents are also encouraged to read to their children for pleasure with a variety of material that inspires their child. A variety of suitable books are available from school if required and age-appropriate texts are suggested in our ‘Recommended Reads’ section of the school website under the ‘children’ tab.
At its heart, Accelerated Reader is simple.
Once the children in Y2 have completed the RWI program, we use the Accelerated Reader program to monitor and improve their reading ability. Accelerated Reader is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Children are initially assessed through a ‘Star’ test.
This Star Reading test gives teachers a very comprehensive report on children’s reading ability. It is a complete online assessment of children’s reading development, showing skills they have mastered that are aligned to the National Curriculum. Star Reading goes even further to show the skills each child needs to focus on to meet or exceed expected standards. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes around 20 minutes which is taken whenever a pupil feels they want to read a more challenging text. We ensure pupils are tested at least 3 times a year. This gives children a range of decimalised numbers that identify which books are most appropriate for them to read before taking another quiz.
Our children are able to pick a book at his or her own identified level from a wide selection held in school. Alternatively, they are able to choose a book from outside school and discover whether it is at an appropriate level by inputting the book title online and using the decimalised number scheme. Each child can then read at his or her own pace. Children using Accelerated Reader choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.
When they have finished reading, they take a short quiz on the computer (passing the quiz is an indication that the child understood what was read). Accelerated Reader gives children immediate feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher can then use to help children in school.
If a child does not do well on the quiz, the teacher may help the child:
- Choose another book that is more appropriate.
- Ask more probing questions as your child reads and before the child takes a quiz.
- Pair child with another pupil.
- Have the book read to the child.
In most cases, children really enjoy taking the quizzes. Since they are reading books at their reading and interest levels, they are likely to be successful. This is satisfying for most children. Best of all, they learn and grow at their own pace.
At its heart, Renaissance Accelerated Reader is simple.
At St Filumena's we motivate, monitor, and manage children’s independent reading practice with Accelerated Reader and watch our children develop a true love for reading.
Our Approach to Spelling
We use Read Write Inc. Spelling for Years 2-6 to meet the demanding spelling requirements of the National Curriculum and to build on the fantastic start our children make with Read Write Inc. Phonics. Reasons why we use this programme:
- Puts the complex requirements of the curriculum into snappy short lessons
- Makes spelling fun! Aliens from an exciting online spelling planet clearly introduce spelling rules and concepts
- Read Write Inc. Spelling Online includes an Extra Practice Zone including over 1,000 new activity screens for whole-class practice, focusing on the areas children often find challenging. A class login also enables or children to do the practice activities at home:
- Provides plenty of writing practice with a clear record of progress
- The emphasis is on teaching spelling, not simply testing spelling
- Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, it also develops children’s knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words and provide mnemonics to remember the trickiest spellings.
- The teaching revolves around instruction (with the help of online alien characters), partner and group practice, and competitive group challenges that help children commit new words to memory.
Half-termly practice tests assess children’s spelling progress using the same format as the statutory assessments in England. Online tracking spreadsheets enable us to record and track individual children’s progress and identify units or concepts pupils might need to be retaught.
During the teaching activities each week, a number of assessment opportunities are also planned into the programme. The emphasis is on the importance of learning to spell, rather than being tested on spelling.
We ensure that children build up their handwriting skills every day with lots of practise writing. We make the physical process of writing – handwriting – enjoyable from the start, so children see themselves as ‘writers’. We use mnemonics – memory pictures – to help children visualise the letter or join before they write it down. Children need to practise handwriting under the guidance of a teacher so they do not develop habits that will be difficult to undo later so we make sure that handwriting is always a guided activity.
We link handwriting to our Read Write Inc. Phonics in KS1 and there are three handwriting stages.
These lessons are taught while children read the Red, Green, Purple, Pink, and Orange Storybooks.
Stage 1a: Children practise correct letter formation.
Stage 1b: Children learn where to place the letters on the writing line.
These lessons are taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. At this stage, children learn a mature style of writing that will lead to joined-up writing.
These lessons are also taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. At this stage, children learn the two basic joins: the arm join (diagonal) and the washing line join (horizontal) and the two variables for each join.
There are also memorable phrases that support the children to develop correct letter formation:
Time is prioritised to focus on developing the writing process with children as they move through school. The key elements of the writing process are planning, drafting, editing and revising, proofread, and then publishing or sharing.
Modelling is a key element in the teaching of the writing process, with teachers using 'think out loud' to guide children through how to craft a piece of writing. By modelling, the expert writer lets less experienced writers in on the big secret … What is going on in the head of a more experienced writer?
By modelling, we demonstrate options for planning, strategic problem solving, self-monitoring, reviewing, revising and proofreading. We also show how techniques can be used or applied; we work through challenges and teach good grammar. And we do it all within the context of authentic writing!
At St Filumena's we recognise the importance of the relationship between reading and writing because we know that when reading and writing are taught together, the benefits are greater than when they are taught separately.
The preparation for their own writing is integral to the writing process, where reading and discussing a similar text type is always the precursor to children’s own writing. Children discuss their ideas as a class and/or with a partner. Ideas are recorded and children expand and develop them through the supported writing process. We use spaced learning to revisit different genres and ensure that prior knowledge is assessed before teaching a new concept.
We teach grammar and punctuation following the national curriculum expectations, building upon knowledge gained and applied. Constantly reviewing prior learning and revisiting rules through spaced learning. As children progress through KS2, there is a greater focus is on the use of subordinating conjunctions in multi-clause sentences along with the awareness of verb tenses. Choosing more appropriate and descriptive verbs is also encouraged throughout the lessons in relation to the clarity and cohesion they can bring to a text.
Our genres are planned for each year group and followed throughout the year.
Please refer to the schemes of learning for each year group, which ensures that genres – particularly non-fiction types – are revisited and extended as part of our commitment to providing spaced learning opportunities in order for pupils to achieve embedded success in writing skills.