At SS Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School children learn through a topic-based approach and English is taught in a cross-curricular way, giving a strong, clear purpose to reading, writing and speaking and listening activities. In each year group we work with quality core texts, as well as drawing on other curriculum areas to read and write in context across a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. Children are able to make links with their learning and it makes English stimulating, challenging, interactive and fun.
We view talk as integral to learning – to explore, try out and organise ideas and to reason and explain understanding. We demonstrate good spoken language models and develop children’s expressive and topic vocabulary. As part of gathering ideas for writing the children use drama techniques to develop character profiles and different views of the same story, for example. Children learn to work co-operatively to make presentations about areas of the topic, ensuring they speak audibly and with interest for their audience.
Our aim is to inspire the children to be life-long readers who use reading a range of media to find out about the world and who choose to read for pleasure. We celebrate Book Week with lots of author-focused and book-related activities and children always enjoy dress up days, where they come to school as a book character. Through whole class and guided groups we teach initial decoding and comprehension skills, including a systematic phonics programme, and higher order skills, such as inference and deduction, so that children become discerning critics of a wide range of text types. We have a system of home/school Reading Logs to maintain a dialogue about our children’s reading development, promoting the partnership in learning with parents and carers.
“Our teacher asks us questions to make us think and helps us use our imagination so that we can use it when we read on our own.” Year One child.
“Our teacher helps us think about stories more deeply and expand our knowledge.” Year Four child
The impact of reading on writing cannot be underestimated, so we use thought-provoking books as stimuli for learning about different text types. We encourage the children to read as writers and use the good models of language and structures they are shown in their own writing. Grammar is mainly taught in the context of writing, so children can readily see its purpose and application, with an emphasis on using correct terminology. We use a spelling programme that covers National Curriculum spelling patterns and word families and this is supported by age appropriate activities, such as root word investigations.
We celebrate the fact that we are applying our English learning across the curriculum - from taking part in a class debate to sharing our own prayers, from reading a fiction book together to finding information about a topic, from writing all types of stories to using our best handwriting when writing a thank you letter to a visitor.
To help parents support their children with homework and developing the best English skills, we run workshops throughout the year to help explain teaching methods used at the school.