Our English Curriculum
At St Nicolas’ we believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education. Our English curriculum prepares all pupils to lead an enriched, fulfilling life by teaching them the skills they need to communicate effectively and confidently with others, using the spoken and written word. We aim to promote a life-long love of reading which develops their cultural, social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual awareness so they can participate fully, thrive and be ready to face the challenges of life.
Aims for our pupils
We have a rigorous and well-organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion.
We work hard to offer rich and varied spoken language opportunities across the curriculum, from role-play in Reception; ensuring time is built into every lesson to talk; class assemblies; carol concerts; presentations (e.g. ‘The big science event’) and other special events throughout the year.
Enjoyment of and engagement with quality texts is at the heart of our English curriculum and at least ten minutes each day is spent with an adult reading to the class. Our reading curriculum map ensures that children listen to a wide range of diverse texts, including poetry and non-fiction.
Children follow the RWI Phonics programme until they have learnt to decode. The reading lead assesses these children each half term to ensure progress is being made and to work with teachers on children that are starting to fall behind. Fast track tutoring is used to support these children. Whilst on the RWI programme, we make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books supports their increasingly fluent decoding and understanding.
Once off the RWI programme, children take part in whole class reading lessons. Our whole class reading lessons are designed to help children infer, summarise, question, clarify, predict and argue a point of view. Pupils are encouraged to take their own meaning from each text, becoming independent and critical thinkers. The children also make connections between the texts and their own experiences.
Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read, Write Inc. Phonics and Get Writing programme and enrich this with further activities. We encourage children to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write it independently. The quality of the vocabulary the children use in their writing reflects the language they have heard in the books the teacher has read to them. Once children complete the Read, Write Inc. phonics programme, they continue to have high quality teaching through a consistent writing process: hook – WAGOLL -gathering ideas – plan – draft – edit – publish. Lessons are sequenced to build progressively towards an extended piece of purposeful writing, with an intended audience. This ensures that the writing is meaningful to the children.
Handwriting begins in Reception class with mark-making, patterns, posture and pencil grip. Children are taught to form letters correctly using the RWI letter formation sayings. In year 1 they progress to pre-cursive letter formation where each letter is correctly formed with a lead in, and lead out. Children begin to join at the end of year 2 and the beginning of year 3. Please refer to the handwriting policy for further detail.
Pupils are taught the importance of using grammar and punctuation correctly, so they can communicate clearly and convey their meaning effectively. Fo spelling we follow the Read, Write Inc. Spelling programme. The programme enables children to recap on the previous years’ spelling patterns and then introduces new patterns and sight words progressively from Y2 to Y6.
Writing is celebrated in whole school ‘wonderful writing’ assemblies, on the ‘wonderful writing’ display in the hall, in corridor displays, writing themed days and in the newsletter.
We want all our children to leave St Nicolas as a fluent reader and writer, who enjoys the English language and is set up for the demands of the Key Stage 3 curriculum.
Impact is measured through: analysis of data; pupil voice; book monitoring; learning walks; photos of work and evidence of events throughout the year.