At St. Agnes' RC Primary School, we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. It is our role, through the English curriculum, to help children develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively with the world at large, through spoken and written language. Through a love of reading that is embedded within our school, we strive to help children to enjoy and appreciate literature and its rich variety.
At our school, our intent is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading both across the curriculum and at home. Through the implementation of our English curriculum, we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
In all Key Stages a range of genres are taught, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Along with discrete English units, cross-curricular writing opportunities are used as often as possible. The writing process begins by the children immersing themselves in a text or animation through story mapping, oral retelling, drama and games. This then progresses to deconstructing the text to identify what makes it work, and creating a toolkit for their own writing. The second stage of the process involves shared writing and up-levelling writing to adapt the text to create a new piece of writing, based closely on the model genre. Teacher guidance and modelling at this stage enables pupils to learn the process of writing, and to share in the process of checking and assessing against co-constructed success criteria. The final stage is when pupils can take what they have learnt and apply it by writing their own text in the same genre. Pupils are encouraged to 'magpie' words from other sources to improve their writing. Each genre is taught sequentially following a structure which ensures high quality writing as a result of detailed text analysis, clarity of genre features, teaching and application of grammar and punctuation and key vocabulary.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS):
Improving pupils' understanding and use of grammar, punctuation and spelling is a key driver in our school.
Throughout Key Stages 1 and 2, we teach daily/weekly spelling lessons through Read Write Inc. that focus on specific spelling rules and patterns. Pupils are tested on these in weekly spelling tests or dictation exercises that are made up of a combination of seen and unseen words.
Punctuation and grammar knowledge and skills are taught in discrete weekly lessons and are then embedded in daily teaching of writing. Different objectives are taught following the St. Agnes’ Grammar Scheme of Work, in each year group. This has been planned in line with National Curriculum requirements. In addition to this, revision or extension of skills is targeted within each class to ensure that all pupils are making progress at their own level.
Termly grammar, punctuation and spelling tests are used to assess pupils' progress in this area and identify any gaps in learning.
Reading is implemented everywhere in our school. This is a skill we use every day across all subjects. We believe unless children can read, they cannot learn to the full. Reading Comprehension is taught through reading skills lessons, in addition to being an integral part of all writing teaching. Pupils read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts that are appropriate for their level of comprehension. Activities are planned to support understanding of the text and to develop pupils' skills in decoding, predicting, questioning, clarifying, imagining and summarising.
Children are encouraged to read their home/school or Accelerated Reader books but also reading books of their own choice from home to promote a love and pleasure for reading. We believe that a joint approach between school and home is optimal for cultivating both skills and passion for reading, and encourage pupils to take books home to read with family members.
At St. Agnes’ Catholic Primary School, assessment of children’s learning is used to inform planning for the future and thus ensure pupils’ progress. Staff keep a record of half termly writing progress based on pieces of written work from English lessons and across other curriculum subjects. A Local Authority produced year group profile linked to age-related assessment criteria for writing (WGAP) is used to assist staff, in recording progress. In addition, planned opportunities for moderation occur throughout the year both within school and with cluster schools to ensure standards and expectations are in line with each other.
A reading assessment file is also kept with records of children’s phonic ability, as well as lists of high frequency words achieved, in order to gain a greater understanding of strategies children use when approaching unfamiliar words. Staff also complete a reading assessment profile (RGAP) on a termly basis which records children’s progress in relation to different assessment foci (AFs).
Teachers in year 2 and 6 also use the Teaching Assessment Frameworks (TAF) to assess children’s progress against statutory objectives. This is completed alongside GAP assessments to provide specific evidence of achievement which is then reported externally. Children in these year groups also complete end of key stage statutory assessment tests.
Accelerated Reading provides an assessment tool for teachers to set personalised targets for reading. Every child taking part in AR will complete a STAR reading test at the beginning of the year and at the end of each half-term. It is a twenty minute multiple choice reading assessment completed individually on an ipad. Questions continually adjust to depending on the responses from each pupil. After each pupil takes a STAR reading test, the teacher will assess the results and a ZPD reading range will be allocated. The range aims to challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. The ZPD range and reading age determined by the assessments ensure each pupil is reading a book within their capabilities, and provides teachers with data on each pupil’s progress.