The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The National Curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. At St. Wilfrid’s teachers ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. We have begun to use the Word Aware scheme in Class 5 and are hoping to roll this out throughout the school to help improve children’s vocabulary.
The programme of study for reading at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- Word reading
- Comprehension (both listening and reading).
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners. At St Wilfrid’s phonics is introduced to children through the use of the Jolly Phonics scheme. Children then progress from phonics onto the Read, Write, Inc. spelling programme. It is expected that children will have completed the phonic stages by the end of Year 2, with an understanding that phonics underpins all spelling, reading and writing.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge, particularly vocabulary and grammar, and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high quality discussion with the teacher as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. We are currently using Cracking Comprehension as a focused approach to improving children’s skills in this area.
Our core reading scheme at St Wilfrid’s is the Oxford Reading Tree and Project X Books, both by Oxford University Press. Other books are used to supplement these schemes and book bands are used in the earlier years to aid with appropriate selection of books. As children become more proficient at their reading they are encouraged to read from a wide selection of ‘real books’.
All children engage in at least weekly group reading sessions, sometimes more and from Year 4 upwards participate in Literacy Circle activities. Children from Year 2 upwards have a weekly comprehension lesson. This takes place within year groups.
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Writing including spelling, punctuation and grammar
The programme of study for writing at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
At St Wilfrid’s topics under study provide the basis for teachers to develop pupils’ competence in the above two dimensions. In addition, pupils are taught the importance of planning, revising, editing and evaluating their writing.