The English Curriculum
The teaching of English is of the utmost importance at St Nicholas, where we fully embrace the aims of the new English curriculum: To promote high standards of language and literacy and to develop the children’s love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The focus we place upon teaching and learning of English can be seen clearly across the school with English displays in every classroom and “working walls” which are regularly updated and reflect the skills the children are learning that week. These displays act as a prompt to enhance their independent writing throughout the day and across the curriculum.
We teach the basic building blocks of reading and writing through a structured daily phonics programme that runs throughout EYFS and Key Stage 1, followed by structured daily spelling sessions in Key Stage 2. At St Nicholas, the focused teaching of phonics was rated as outstanding (OFSTED 2013) and we have ensured our standards have remained high with excellent Year 1 Phonics Reading Test results each year. Our practise is shared with cluster schools and we have been involved in local authority professional development courses sharing our excellent practise with other schools.
We teach graphesme (cursive) handwriting at St Nicholas. The children start to use lead ins and lead outs when they learn to form their letters in Reception and then learn to join their handwriting in Year One. Our expectation is that all children will be able to use joined cursive script by the end of Key Stage One. We encourage the children to take pride in the presentation of their written work and award them a pen licence once their script is formed correctly.
Grammar is taught through a weekly guided session, from which skills are then practised and applied throughout the remaining English writing sessions during that week and we expect the skills learned to be applied to their writing across the curriculum. We encourage involvement from the parents by sending home weekly spelling and grammar activities for homework.
Reading is taught daily through shared and modelled reading using big books or online texts and weekly through guided reading in groups to the teacher and other adults in the class. Class teachers also read books to the children in story time and pupils are strongly encouraged to read at home with their parents and we also encourage parents to read widely to their children.
At St Nicholas we provide a rich and varied English curriculum, where the children are introduced to poetry and non-fiction as well as narrative. We use story making at St Nicholas as a strategy that broadens and widens the children’s learning experience of the written and spoken word through drama, oral retelling and adapting the learned text using skills taught in the grammar and other English lessons to extend their sentence and word level skills.
To ensure we assess writing across the curriculum we use extended pieces of writing including cross-curricular writing linked to topics to asses writing and to set challenging goals for the children.
The children have many opportunities to engage further with their learning of English through planned events such as world book days, drama workshops, visiting authors and whole week events such as the poetry week held in March earlier this year. During events such as these, the wider community are encouraged to become involved, as parents and governors are invited in to share the experiences and to look at the work the children have produced. The children also have the opportunity to develop their confidence, use of expression and ability to speak in front of an audience by participating in Class and School Presentations to parents and visitors.
We are very proud of the children’s achievements in their learning of English at St Nicholas and welcome you to come and share our celebration of that learning during Class Celebration Assemblies on a Friday afternoon.
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