At St Joseph’s we aim to equip pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of reading, by providing children with rich and varied learning experiences. We believe that a high-quality education in English enables pupils to speak and write fluently so they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others accurately and expressively.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary, grammar and their understanding of reading and writing.
At St Joseph’s we believe the best way to teach children about the correct conventions for spoken language is to immerse them in it. In all subjects children have many opportunities to orally explain their ideas, make formal presentations and participate in drama activities and debates.
Our English curriculum, developed using the frameworks provided by the Literacy Tree Consultants, uses high quality books that offer opportunities for empathy and can aid philosophical enquiry, as a means of developing the spoken language requirements through discussion about the issues raised through, and within, the texts.
We believe the exposure of children’s literature within the primary school setting is vital as a rich context for learning; not only within English as a subject but to support building a reading culture throughout the school.
Children are taught a range of phonic strategies to enable them to decode new words so they can read fluently and with confidence. Through high quality discussion of a range of texts including; fiction, non-fiction and poetry, children develop their comprehension skills as well as an appreciation and love of reading.
Guided reading is a daily occurrence throughout the school and in this time children have further opportunity to engage with high quality texts from different genres and show their understanding through a range of responses, such as drama and extended writing opportunities.
Our home reading programme, which provides children with books to read at home and reading journals to make reflections about what they have read, plays an important role in developing our positive reading culture. Our annual book week celebrations, and events such as author’s visits and book fairs, create a culture of reading for pleasure which we hope will stay with children throughout their lives.
At St Joseph’s, we understand that being an effective writer requires many skills, such as; a sound knowledge of spelling rules and patterns, an understanding of proper grammatical conventions and sentence structures, a wide vocabulary to express ideas, and fluent, legible handwriting to write them down.
We ensure that all of our children are explicitly taught these skills through a mixture of discrete lessons, thoughtful discussion and analysis of quality writing.
Meaningful writing opportunities are provided within the diverse range of engaging, quality texts on our book based English curriculum or linked to other curriculum topics. Teaching in writing allows children to explore new vocabulary and grammatical structures used by authors, before learning how to apply these in their own work. In shared and guided writing activities, pupils work with their teacher to learn how to plan, revise and evaluate their own written work, enabling them to become more independent, successful writers.
Grammar and spelling lessons are usually linked to class texts to provide children with a context for their learning and they are taught through a mixture of games, quizzes and short written experiences.
In handwriting lessons, pupils are taught to form and join their letters correctly – using the Nelson Handwriting Programme – to develop a legible, cursive style which allows them to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively.