At St Johns, we want all children to leave being able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing and discussion, with a developed love of reading. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, have a varied reading diet, inspiring an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage, with a habit of reading widely and often. We believe children should have a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. Children will develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear progression pathway. We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences, striving for excellence in developing a ‘writer’s voice’ and identity. We encourage pupils to see themselves as authors and poets. We want children to develop independence and character to reflect on previous writing. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a good, joined, handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school. We want all children to use the school values, to apply all these English skills across all subjects of the curriculum.
Reading and phonics
Our reading approach, starting in the Early years and Key Stage 1, begins with phonics. Phonics in Reception and Year 1 is taught using the Reading planet Rocket Phonics scheme. Reading Planet Rocket Phonics is a DfE validated SSP programme aligned to Letters and Sounds 2007. This is taught through steady pace and progression, whole class teaching and consistent daily phonics practice. As part of the phonics sessions, the children also learn correct letter formation building up to writing short dictated and independent sentences. To further embed and reinforce their phonics learning, the guided reading sessions are taught using books from the Reading planet Rocket Phonics scheme.
In years 2 to 6, we continue to secure and further develop their key decoding and comprehension skills. At St. John’s we teach discrete reading lessons using a whole class reading approach, using the acronym VIPERS to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.
VIPERS stands for
Sequence or Summarise
The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.
To ensure full coverage of the reading curriculum aims, teachers plan and teach following the St John’s reading progression route way.
By the time children leave us, we aim to have developed fluent readers who are interested in reading and are able to use it as a key life skill for a successful future.
We realise how important reading is for life and so reading is embedded throughout the whole curriculum; exploring texts in English, Science, Topic, RHE and RE. Vocabulary is a explored throughout all lessons, both planned and incidentally.
Writing, in English lessons, are based around high-quality texts in every year group. All texts are mapped out progressing in the challenge of the texts, within and moving up year groups. The fiction texts are chosen to ensure a mixture of classics, contemporary and traditional stories, along with poetry and non-fiction texts and plenty of opportunities to practice the spoken English through performance, debate, discussion and presentations.
All units of work follow a clearly planned sequence and a progressive writing composition and grammar routeway is followed to ensure clear skill progression in writing throughout the school that is built on year by year. Staff use effective modelling using the writer’s voice at all stages and provide a variety of resources to support every child to achieve their writing potential.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into all other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.
Grammar and Punctuation
Grammar and punctuation sessions are taught weekly. This is either as part of the English sessions as part of the sequence or a discrete session. A grammar and punctuation routeway is followed that states which objectives are to be taught in each year group, in line with the National Curriculum and build progressively year on year, culminating in the end of key stage tests.
Spelling is taught using a proven approach underpinned by phonics, fast–paced lessons and an online subscription, Read Write Inc. Spelling prepares children for the higher demands of the statutory spelling assessments in England.
At St. John’s, we provide varied and exciting opportunities for writing for a purpose and we encourage pupils to see themselves as authors and poets. We have developed a range of extra activities which are used to promote English within the school including World Book Day, Celebration assembly, Writer’s award, Reader's award and Presentation award. We start a new year with a whole school text scheme of work, promoting teamwork, a love of literature and the messages within them. We have pupils regularly attend ‘Aim Higher’ days to work with a range of authors. Author visits are arranged to inspire the children’s writing and book fairs are organised to encourage exploring new books. Every half term, we hold a story swap, where teachers and teaching assistants swap classes to read a story to another class. We love English at St John's!