English at St Monica’s is designed with pupil interests at its heart and is predominantly text and story based, with much of the pupils’ writing stemming from a class poem, novel, film or animation. Across the year groups, pupils are exposed to a range of issues from which they are encouraged to write extensively. For example, in Year 5 the pupils have read the novel ‘Trash’ and have written about the impact of recycling and pollution. The pupils in Year 4 also spent a term studying the Jabberwocky poem by C.S Lewis as an example of a successful local author. Pupils are provided with opportunities to enhance their skills through the use of thematic writing across the curriculum.
In order to provide pupils with extensive opportunities to review and refine their writing, they are provided with regular opportunities to rehearse their writing. At regular intervals, pupils will edit and redraft their writing in order for them to identify what their own next steps are. As often as possible, the grammar, punctuation and spelling is taught in context and teachers make effective use of the Slow Writing technique and resources such as Pobble 365 and the Literacy Shed to model to pupils how to include the taught GPS skills in context.
We believe that the development of vocabulary is at the core of pupils becoming successful communicators, both orally and in written work. From the EYFS stage, pupils are exposed to a range of vocabulary through direct teaching and modelled through teacher talk. In order for pupils to become more confident speakers, we run a hugely-popular drama club for Key Stage Two pupils, who hold a performance each year.
Culture of Aspiration
Throughout the year each class is invited to enter a range of writing competitions in order to enhance the purpose for the pupils’ writing. Some of these competitions include the BBC 500 Word Challenge and the annual ‘Go Ape’ writing challenge.
The teaching of reading is done whole class, and all classes make use of the Nelson Comprehension Scheme. Regularly, teachers will use alternative engaging texts to capture the interests of the readers in their class: Y2 have used Esio Trot and The Pirates Next Door; Y3 have studied Iron Man; Y5 have been captivated by Anthony Browne’s ‘King Kong’, and Y6 have used extracts from Skellig and TIN.
Reception and Key Stage 1 also use the Engage Literacy Scheme to ensure that pupils are exposed to a widening range of vocabulary and phonics instruction. Pupils are encouraged to read from a ‘balanced diet’ and teachers encourage children to complete their ‘Balanced Diet Reading Sheets’ over the course of an academic year. For those pupils who are ready to proceed from banded books, we have designed our school library to provide pupils with a wide range of genres which are clearly labelled. The school library also promotes pupils peer-to-peer discussions of text by making use of the ‘St Monica’s Recommended Reads’.
Our Year 6 School Librarians ensure the library is well-stocked and, over the past two years, have endeavoured to research more advanced and mature texts for our confident Year 6 readers.