St Gabriel’s RC Primary School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. All staff, governors and volunteers are expected to share this commitment. For more information please see our safeguarding policy which can be found under Key Information > Policies > Safeguarding Policy.
Our English curriculum is designed to enable children to be confident, literate learners who are fully prepared for future challenge by acquiring a love of reading and an ability to communicate effectively through the spoken and written word.
Underpinning this, is a growing understanding of the relationship between writer and reader and an enjoyment of language that encompasses not only the mastery of spelling and grammatical knowledge, but also a rich vocabulary that enables them to manipulate and experiment with language across a range of genres.
Through a novel-based approach, we ensure that children are offered a creative, inclusive and well-sequenced curriculum, which allows them the opportunity to study a range of texts in-depth whilst providing meaningful writing opportunities, both within English lessons and across the wider curriculum.
Communication and language is one of the prime areas in Early Years. At St. Gabriel’s we know that language acquisition and development is a key skill which underpins many other areas of learning. In our Early years setting we have a strong emphasis on communication and language, we support communication skills, promote social skills, build confidence and self-esteem, as well as supporting the emotional, behavioural development and helping children to make sense of the world around them. We provide our children with a communication friendly setting providing experiences, which allow rich language development and encouragement for each individual child to develop confidence and the ability to express themselves. We ensure high quality interactions and modelling of accurate communication from all staff and we use speaking and listening activities throughout our curriculum. We assess language and understanding throughout the year using different assessment tools and identify children who need support.
Reading and Writing are two of the specific areas of the Early Years curriculum; we provide our children with a range of activities to support these skills such as storytelling, drama and the use of props and resources. Early writing skills are practised through encouraging mark making with different tools and providing open ended resources for children to explore during provision time. Physical development of gross and fine motor skills is developed through a variety of tasks to give children the skills to hold pencils and write. Phonics is used to develop children’s writing skills as they learn how to form letters and phonological awareness to write words. High quality texts are used to explore stories at a deeper level and for children to become confident with story structure. From these texts, we include writing, reading and speaking & listening activities. Stories are shared and enjoyed daily. We strive to create strong links with parents to encourage these skills, these may include: reading record diary, secret reader initiative (parents invited to come and read to the children), updates or activities from class sent home via Seesaw for parents to discuss the learning with their children, workshop and information evenings.
The Read, Write, Inc. phonics programme is used. Children from Reception to Year 2 have access to daily small-group phonics teaching. Our systematic, synthetic phonics programme allows children to learn phonemes (individual sounds) and corresponding graphemes (written representation of a sound). It builds up as children learn individual sounds and progress onto orally blending sounds together and being able to decode and read regular and irregular words. Progress is assessed each half term, ensuring provision is accurate and groups are fluid. In Reception and Year 1, children take home decodable books, which match the phonetic phase at which they are working, to aid their progression as independent readers. Non-decodable words, ‘tricky words’ are introduced to the children alongside the reading books that they use. Phonics provision continues into Year 3 where needed.
Reading ~ Comprehension
At St. Gabriel’s, we use a novel based approach for the teaching of both reading and writing. High quality texts, shared with each class on a daily basis, provide the opportunity to engage in comprehension activities covering the following skills:
Key Stage One
Understanding the meaning of vocabulary and ideas within a text.
Inferring from the text.
Predicting what might happen, based on what has been read.
Key Stage Two
Explaining the meaning of vocabulary and ideas within a text.
Retrieving and recording of information.
Explaining and justifying inference with evidence from the text.
Predicting from details stated and implied
Understanding the structure and organisation of a text.
Identifying and explaining how meaning is enhanced through choice of words or phrases.
Making comparisons within and across texts. From Year 2 upwards, children record responses to reading activities in Reading Journals.
Reading ~ Home/ School
As children progress through the school, they take home books from publishers such as ‘The Oxford University Press, ‘Pearson’ and ‘Collins’, appropriate to their age and reading ability. They experience a range of different genres including narrative ‘chapter books’, classic tales, non-fiction, graphic novels and biographies. Each child has a Reading Record, which is used as communication between parent, teacher and pupil. Parents are also invited into school to participate in events such as ‘Book Tasting Sessions’.
Reading for Pleasure
At St. Gabriel’s we believe that it is essential to instil good reading habits into our children so that they have a love of literature that will not only last them a lifetime, but will open the door to future opportunities. With this in mind, we have a vibrant and up-to-date library, which provides a range of books, book reviews and comfortable seating.
In every class room there is a dedicated reading area, the current theme of which is ‘Camp Out with a Good Book’. Children are encouraged to read in these comfortably furnished areas and to recommend books to their peers. Alongside their school reading book, pupils may take home a book from either their school or class library.
‘Book swap’ initiatives are used to broaden the range of literature available.
Staff share their love of reading with the children and encourage them to widen their reading experiences by trying new authors or new genres.
Children not only read with their teacher on a daily basis, they are also given the opportunity to read independently and to hear a text read to them. The sharing of a class novel for enjoyment is an important way to engage and enthuse pupils as they anticipate the next chapter and predict what may happen.
As with reading, writing stems from a novel based approach. Both narrative and non-narrative are planned around events in the shared class text, with non-fiction texts being used to supplement this and to model specific genres.
In Key Stage One, children are taught how to write to entertain and inform. In Lower Key Stage Two, they also learn to use the written word to persuade, whilst Upper Key Stage Two pupils also discover how to produce discussion texts such as balanced arguments or news reports representing more than one viewpoint.
Talk for Writing is integral to our writing process, with children taught to engage in meaningful discussion at all stages of writing, so that they are able to externalise and make explicit, through talk, the thinking involved in both ‘reading as a writer’ (understanding what response the writer wishes to elicit in the reader and how he/she achieves this) and ‘writing as a reader’ (applying the same understanding when making the choices involved in planning, creating and improving their own writing).
‘Writer-talk’ focused on the purpose and audience enables children to successfully imitate, innovate and invent texts across a range of genres.
Our writing process is as follows:
In addition to this, we promote cross-curricular writing to re-enforce and embed genres taught in English lessons. Children produce two cross-curricular pieces of writing each week. Opportunities to write for a real audience are also valued and promoted, with each year group expected to do so on an annual basis.
Children are taught through The Nelson Handwriting Scheme, which provides structure and progression. By upper Key Stage 2, once children have demonstrated fluent, joined writing, they are encouraged to hone their own style, whilst also understanding that different tasks necessitate different handwriting and different writing implements.
Grammar is taught as an integral part of the writing process, with each year group ensuring an emphasis on the new content for that year. In addition to this, children participate in a short SVGP (Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar, Punctuation) exercise three times a week, Designed by the teacher, using an agreed format, this is used to re-enforce Year group objectives, as well as re-visiting and continuing to embed content from previous years.
The Twinkl Planit Spelling programme is used to teach spellings in Years 1 to 6. Each week, children study a unit based around a spelling rule or pattern with clear, structured progression throughout the school. The words for the week are introduced through a Power point presentation. Children then participate in a range of activities designed to help them consolidate the spelling and understand the meaning of each word. Children also have the opportunity to participate in the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check method. Spelling lists are sent home weekly so that children may practise. Spelling tests take place at the end of the week.
The final unit in each half term is a revision unit, giving children the opportunity to re-cap and internalise their learning.
Where children need further support in spelling, they are introduced to an individualised programme based around each child’s need and designed to ensure progress can be made.