At the Convent of Jesus and Mary Infant School & Nursery we believe that a quality English curriculum is essential to develop pupil’s love of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. We aim to foster an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a fondness for READING widely and regularly. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where pupils take pride in their WRITING, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We endeavour to inspire all pupils to use their skills of SPEAKING and LISTENING confidently in their communication with others, their discussions and debate to further their learning.
We believe that pupils must develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Furthermore, securing strong foundations in Literacy skills is crucial to ensure our pupils acquire a high-quality education as they move through the next stages of their education to guarantee they have the necessary tools to participate fully as members of society.
Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the 2014 National Curriculum for English. Therefore, we aim to ensure our pupils;
The aims of the National Curriculum are consistently embedded across our Literacy lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a robust and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening. Our English Handbook supports teachers through the implementation of our English curriculum which has been developed around a coherent sequence of high-quality age-appropriate texts closely connected to the overall vision or Intent of our school which is concerned with the local, national and global environment and aims to ensure our pupils access the enriching experiences the outdoors can provide, enabling them to understand the impact of our way of life in the world we live in. As such, we undertake to support Pope Francis’s message in his encyclical – ‘Laudato Si’ which found inspiration in Saint Francis of Assisi ‘Canticle of the Sun’; a beautiful prayer to celebrate God’s creation. We see our pupils as stewards of the earth; therefore, our curriculum explores big questions about the environment and Pope Francis call for action.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening is central to our curriculum and is developed from the EYFS through to KS1, across the wider curriculum. We nurture pupil’s speaking and listening skills through a variety of approaches; exploratory play, story time, hot seating, etc. We develop these skills so that our pupils are capable of expressing their own ideas clearly and confidently, in a safe and supportive environment, in all areas of learning and into their future.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that our pupils hear, and share are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding of reading and writing. Therefore, we ensure subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the wider curriculum through teacher modelling, and our pupils use it in context. Contextual learning supports pupils to understand new words and including them in their work.
This is evident in shared reading sessions, where pupils are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We always endeavour to model the correct grammar and expect pupils to do the same in their use of spoken and written language. Pupils are regularly given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing, they are also encouraged to develop their speaking and listening through assemblies, class presentations and use of pupil voice. This helps to develop their confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
Our pupils excel in early reading through the use of the both guided reading – ‘Book Talk’ and home-reading enabling all pupils to practice the skills acquired during Book Talk. We use the Pearson Reader books so that our pupils are enthused by the wide range of high-quality texts covering a range of genres and topics this will help to motivate and inspire our pupils to develop a true love of reading. Pearson readers have a large selection of genres graded to different levels of English, so there is a reader suitable for everyone! English learners of any age can enjoy and learn from reading, whatever their language level, because each series is graded to different levels. The stories are engaging with colourful illustrations enabling the children to explore characters plot and setting. Pupils are also encouraged to read texts outside the Pearson reader scheme.
At the Convent of Jesus and Mary Infant School & Nursery, we believe that writing is strengthened by instilling in our pupils the love for reading. We value the significant impact reading has on the successful development of writing, by providing a purpose and a context for writing. It is our intent to ensure our pupils develop a deep connection and devotion for reading and are exposed to high quality vocabulary, which will impact on their ability to become authors and developing their own, individualised style of writing.
We use each book to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension skills with a focus on build on key reading strategies, grammar and punctuation knowledge and an understanding of how to apply this knowledge across the wider curriculum. Each English topic revolves around a high-quality text from which the writing genres are also explored.
Each week, our pupils are taught to develop understanding of the text through reading comprehension - exploring key themes, events, setting, plot and characters. Pupils are then taught grammar skills which should link with the particular genre of writing being explored at the time. They learn to identify and apply the grammatical knowledge within the modelled text, before progressing through the process of writing with discussing ideas, planning, writing, editing, re-drafting in order to ensure it is fit for purpose and audience.
Reading and writing are abundantly celebrated in our school through very good quality displays which show a coherent progression of writing, the authors focus - including our author of the term displays, inspiring reading corners filled with pupils’ favourite books, author and genre focus as well as recommended reads. Each week, we dedicate time to reading for pleasure in the classrooms or in our beautiful character themed library. When they read for pleasure, pupils are encouraged to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy, they may choose to share a book with a peer, to read topic books linked to our wider curriculum or listen to an adult reading aloud. In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author and poet visits, Book Fairs, Year of the Word, etc.
Writing is an integral part of our curriculum. All pupils from the EYFS to Year two are provided with daily opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the wider curriculum. Through the English Handbook, all teachers follow a yearly overview of the writing genres they should teach. Our language rich lessons are planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as build on skills and knowledge year on year.
Planned units usually take between two and four weeks to complete, and the outcome of each unit is an ‘Extended Write’ which will be used to assess the pupil’s skills against the agreed success criteria. Through this progression of learning our pupils develop a clear understanding of the writing process from early acquisition to fluent writers and establish themselves as authors in their own right.
We develop our pupils’ writing skills in order to improve their stamina and ability to write with confidence and reach the expected standard for their age and beyond. Our pupils begin their writing journey through visual literacy, drama and role play which builds upon their knowledge of writing for different contexts and purposes. They journey through the process of writing by discussing ideas, planning, writing, editing, re-drafting in order to ensure the end result is to publish and display their learning. Our pupils are exposed to high level vocabulary through the excellent texts we use as well as the language used through the wider curriculum. Teaching handwriting skills is regularly incorporated into English lessons and parents are encouraged to support this at home as well as the weekly grammar, spelling and speaking and listening home learning tasks.
Synthetic phonics at our school is taught using the Pearson Bug Club Phonics: The programme fosters pupil’s speaking and listening skills and equips them with the phonic knowledge and skills they need to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. The Bug Club Phonics programme enables pupils to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early phase so that the teaching of one reinforces understanding of the other. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are treated as reversible processes. This is made up of a six-phase teaching programme with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. They are also taught to read and spell high frequency words for their phase.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1, daily high-quality, interactive phonics lessons are taught daily. Pupils are assessed half termly to ensure they are progressing successfully through the phases. Streaming is used in Reception, year one and year two to ensure that all the pupils are working towards or within the expected standard for phonics. Pupils in Year 1 are assessed against the Phonics Screening Check in June each year. This shows whether they have met the expected standard of phonic knowledge for their age. These assessments determine the ability groups of the children allowing flexibility within the groups. Those pupils who do not meet the expected standard are supported through continuing whole-class daily phonics and additional intervention in Year 2 to support them to reach the expected standard. All staff are trained in phonics to ensure consistency and support for all pupils across the phases.
The implementation of good quality writing through daily handwriting practice enables the progression of fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. All pupils are taught using a consistent approach to handwriting supported by the ‘Handwriting Association’. All staff have had handwriting training through the handwriting association and have a good understanding of the end of year expectation for each year group. (Refer to English Handbook). Activities using gross and fine motor skills are taught and practised by pupils in EYFS, and where appropriate, in Key Stage One. Fine motor groups are set up in the EYFS and KS1 to further support children with need in handwriting. Expectations of handwriting and presentation of writing are modelled by teachers. A consistent cursive font is used in KS1 and policy states that all displays use the font ‘joinit’ which the school has purchased. Parents are fully aware of our choice of font which is also used in regular correspondence with them.
The impact of our curriculum on our pupil’s development is clear through the consistently sustained learning and transferrable skills they acquire and how these transfers into progress and attainment data. The excellent teaching team, the rigorous monitoring system, and the consistent approach to the English curriculum, are successfully reflected in the evaluation process for reading, writing and speaking and listening. Teachers assess termly and the expectation is for pupils to have achieved Age Related Expectations (ARE) for their year group. Some pupils will have progressed further and achieved greater depth (GRD). Children who have gaps in their knowledge receive appropriate support and intervention at that point in time or through transition meetings this will be identified for the next academic year. Teacher’s judgements are moderated internally and externally. They are based on current best practice (and national exemplification where appropriate). Clear progression of skills and knowledge in English can be seen in pupil’s workbooks, displays around the school, in assemblies, pupil voice and role play areas as well as in the playground.