As a school, we aim to provide a high-quality and stimulating English curriculum that ties together a life-long love of reading and a passion for creative writing. We believe that to be successful- children need to be ‘Reading as Writers and Writing as Readers’. Therefore, to achieve this, we have developed a curriculum that at its heart, aims to immerse children in a wide-variety of hand-picked, thrilling and impactful literature, which inspires the imagination and provides support for their own creative minds to thrive. Teachers plan and structure lessons in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for all pupils and children leave St Marks with all the skills and confidence necessary to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
Reading & Writing
At St Marks, the English curriculum is taught using age-appropriate but challenging texts linked with other areas of the curriculum in order to develop continuity and a true purpose for reading and writing. We have a large and varied range of reading books available to the children and follow several reading schemes including: Oxford Reading Tree, Project X and Cambridge Big Cat.
Reading books are levelled by colour based on their difficulty and content. A gradual increase in challenge allows children to maintain their reading confidence whilst making progress.
In order to develop a passion and love for reading, we prioritise time daily for children to either read to themselves or have a book read to them. This model, develops a deeper appreciation for storytelling, encourages the acquisition of a broader and more varied vocabulary and helps to give our children back a sense of imagination and wonder.
Intimate daily guided reading sessions, help to embed comprehension and analysis of reading skills- but also encourage the children to ask questions and better understand the thought processes of authors. This in turn, helps provide a framework for their own writing and can be supportive for those who find reading difficult.
Through the use of apps such as ‘Read Theory’ and ‘Fiction Express’, children are able to continue their learning and development at home. Additionally, to ensure parents feel more confident in supporting their children, we deliver workshops so that they have the opportunity to better understand
Phonics sessions are delivered daily using Synthetic Phonics across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 if appropriate and teaches children the skills needed to decode words in order to spell and blend sounds for reading. We follow the Letter and Sounds scheme of work and incorporate common exception words and high frequency words into sessions. Phonically decodable books are used alongside the teaching of phonics in order to promote greater outcomes and progress for children.
‘Pupils enjoy reading for pleasure and read fluently and with confidence. In lessons, staff develop pupils’ reading skills through carefully planned reading activities’ – Ofsted 2017
Punctuation and Grammar
A crucial part of this learning process is allowing children the opportunity to explore how different elements of SPAG are used in the real world. Therefore, we encourage children to identify where authors have used it and consider why and how it helps them as a reader. The children particularly love reading different types of texts and perhaps identifying where punctuation and grammar have not been used correctly. Terminology is introduced from an early age so that children become confident and successful.
We place a huge emphasis on the continuous consolidation of the terms that children need to understand, in order to allow them to meet their specific, age-related expectations (in line with the National Curriculum). To aid children’s progression in this important Literacy area, pupils receive regular, relevant homework tasks relating to their learning of SPAG.
Therefore, in order support this process, please find (below) a guide to SPAG. We hope that this will assist with your child’s learning at home and help to make sense of some of the terminology they may be using.
A new spelling pattern is explicitly taught to the children each week through the use of No-Nonsense Spelling. Children have regular, structured spelling lessons which aim to enhance their ability. The No Nonsense Spelling Programme teaches a comprehensive yet accessible progression in the teaching of spelling. Guidance, rather than prescription, is provided on how to teach the strategies, knowledge and skills pupils need to learn.
The focus of the programme is on the teaching of spelling, which embraces knowledge of spelling conventions, patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions and personal spellings.
Moreover, in Key Stage 2, children are expected to spell the words outlined in the documents below. They will become familiar with these words over the course of their time in Years 3 to 6 and may bring them home to rehearse and learn, using the ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ approach. Other spelling tasks relate to learning rules, sounds and/or common exception words. Children may be asked to complete specific activities relating to learning a certain rule or perhaps writing words in a context, to aid their understanding of meaning.
All children have access to the ‘Spelling Shed’ app, which allows them to consolidate their knowledge of spelling rules whilst gaining points. Teachers monitor pupils’ attainment and usage of the app- rewarding hard work or providing additional support.
If you want to keep ahead of your children and are interested in what they will be learning this term, then download our curriculum maps for Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2. They include the half-termly topics, writing objectives and suggestions for literature that could link to their work within the classroom.