“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai
At St John’s, we believe that children have the power to change the world and that our job is to equip them with the skills to achieve their goals, preparing them for their future. Through our English curriculum, we aim to provide children with a variety of engaging experiences, lessons and opportunities to develop their confidence, enjoyment and skill-base, in order to be passionate readers and expert writers, which supports them throughout their whole lives.
Across the whole school, our English lessons (reading, writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling) are linked to our wider curriculum themes, supported by a variety of diverse, quality texts, to inspire pupils and nurture a love of reading. From this, we create an enthusiasm for writing, where pupils feel motivated to write for real-life purposes, applying the key skills taught in real-life contexts. It is important to us that our curriculum builds on children’s skills and prior knowledge allowing each and every child to reach their own potential.
How do we teach it?
Our English lessons are so much more than just learning the disciplinary skills required to be successful in reading and writing. We believe that children being an active participant in their learning underpins the whole of our curriculum and, therefore, we strive to create high-quality lessons, which engage and enthuse the children in a variety of different ways.
Each of our themes, provide the stimulus for our learning journeys. Within each of these learning journeys, we have a clear, real-life purpose for writing, with the disciplinary skills underpinned, and a text for the children to explore. These lessons are then supported with drama activities, discussions, group-work and explicit teaching of skills to achieve an end goal, such as a published piece of writing or a performance.
"Phonics is ... making connections between the sounds of our spoken words and the letters that are used to write them down" - Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds
Phonics is an essential part of our curriculum that underpins the basis of reading and spelling. We use the Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds scheme to teach our phonics lessons and children use the ‘grow the code’ sound mats to support them to spell with phonetic accuracy. A good core phonetic knowledge helps to support our children in their early reading development and starts them on their journey to instil a love of reading.
Reading skills are taught within whole class reading sessions, where the children focus on specific reading skills and are given the opportunity to apply them to their independent work. Children read regularly within English lessons as well as providing other opportunities to read in all curriculum areas.
We value the culture of reading and listening to stories and aim to read to the children daily across the school using our class reader titles that link with our topic themes each term. Our class readers are chosen to expose each year group to appropriate and varied authors throughout the year. Authors are chosen so that further titles can then be recommended for the children to enjoy as part of inspiring their love of reading.
At St John’s, we aim to inspire our pupils to become expert writers, who can write in an engaging way for a range of purposes and audiences. Writing is taught through the use of learning journeys that use quality texts, video clips or pictures as a stimulus to support writing. Children are taught explicit grammar skills and are provided with opportunities to use these within context as part of their writing. Within each learning journey, pupils will explore their ideas through discussions, create a writing plan, compose their writing and then edit and publish their work.
Handwriting is an essential life-skill and we explicitly teach it across the whole school. In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught the correct letter formation in line with their phonics sessions. From this, we then build on their understanding and teach fully cursive script from Year 2 upwards. We then encourage children to write in fully cursive script, leading to their own personal style by the end of Key Stage 2.
Speaking and listening:
The skills of speaking and listening are taught across our whole curriculum, where children are continuously provided with opportunities for discussions, debates and group work. However, through English, we explicitly develop these skills and understanding, teaching the children the importance of intonation, tone and performance. Throughout their time at St John’s, each child will be part of a production during each phase, to further develop and apply these skills. Additionally, we aim for a range of speaking and listening opportunities, such as through our worship sessions, trips and school visitors to further enhance these skills.
At St John’s, we have our fantastic Eco-Library, filled with a vast array of different books for the children to explore. Our library is more than just a ‘book borrowing’ room. It is an environment that gives children opportunities to experience new worlds, develop their interests and nurtures curiosity, while also being used for other key learning opportunities. In our school, children are given the responsibility to organise the library and run clubs for other year groups to continue to inspire a love of reading. Each class has a weekly library slot, which enables all children to regularly visit the school library to borrow a book of their choice.