"There can be no more important subject than English in the school curriculum. English is a pre-eminent world language; it is at the heart of our culture and it is the language medium in which most of our pupils think and communicate. Literacy skills are also crucial to pupils’ learning in other subjects across the curriculum."
(Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted, March 2012)
English has a key place in the education of pupils here at St Dominic Savio. It is both an important subject in its own right and the medium for accessing the whole curriculum. At St Dominic Savio, we follow the demands of the 2014 National Curriculum and integrate opportunities to write across our knowledge based curriculum.
The teaching of reading, both the technical aspects of decoding language and the opportunity for pupils to develop a love of literature, is one of the most important aspects of school life here at St Dominic Savio. We have a wonderful, spacious library containing thousands of books! Our success with the teaching of reading can be seen through our national test results.
On entering Reception, our children follow a rigorous system of synthetic phonics, based on Ruth Miskin's Read Write Inc Phonics programme. Alongside this, children have access to high quality books as they learn to read independently.
By Lower Key Stage 2, the great majority of our pupils are reading independently, borrowing books from our well-stocked library or classroom collections. Pupils read individually each day, normally after lunch. Some pupils are allowed a completely free choice in what they read, while others are guided towards titles by their teachers. The allocation of books is based the teacher’s knowledge of a pupil and their reading needs, not any preconceived ideas about age.
Across the school we focus on teaching comprehension through guided groups. These are organised by attainment, but remain flexible enough for pupils to move between groups and comprehension tasks set. It is also common practice for pupils to work in slightly mismatched groups so they have the opportunity to work with stronger readers as role models. Our children learn how to analyse a text and the different types of reading questions. We focus on the explicit teaching of vocabulary and knowledge to enhance pupils' understanding of what they read.
Planning for English learning is based on texts, with units lasting between one and three weeks. Texts can be one specific text (for example Year 3 studying a Roald Dahl novel or Year 6 studying Hamlet); a group of texts (newspapers, for example) or a specific genre (narrative poetry).
Teachers read to their classes, sharing good quality literature with them. This helps our pupils to develop their vocabulary as well as introducing them to unfamiliar ideas and concepts. It also gives pupils the opportunity to tackle longer or more challenging texts than they would be able to alone. It is a joyful time of day, a chance to share a story as a class and to listen for sheer enjoyment.
It is our aim that all pupils who attend St Dominic Savio leave us able to write clearly, accurately and coherently, with the ability to adapt their language and style to a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Expectations with regard to handwriting and presentation are high at St Dominic Savio. Our success in this is reflected in our national test results, particularly in the grammar, punctuation and spelling test. Writing is taught through the same text-based units of work as reading.
The Writing Process
At St Dominic Savio all pupils are supported to develop written work of the best quality that they can. Pupils have an opportunity to encounter high quality language, both from written texts and teacher interaction. Grammar, punctuation and other specific language elements are taught within the context of both reading and writing. There are four stages to the writing process here at St Dominic Savio:
Assessment in the form of high quality oral feedback and interactive marking enables children to improve their work, building towards the production of quality written outcomes. Each half term, children produce an independent piece of writing as a summative assessment. This is kept in a writing folder which tracks each child as they progress through the school.
At St Dominic Savio oracy has a central place in our curriculum, reflecting the vital importance of spoken language in our pupils’ development. Pupils are supported to speak in Standard English at all times whilst at school. There are opportunities to talk right across the curriculum as this is recognised as being a key way in which pupils develop their learning. Pupils are supported to talk about their ideas, helping to consolidate their learning. In addition to making formal presentations and participating in debates, pupils are challenged to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
The aim is to master a spelling word list by each half term at home. You can progress further if you wish!
The children in Key Stage 2 are formally assessed on the 100 word list for their year group each February.
Suggested reading list
"Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all."
National Literacy Trust (2012)
Please find below a selection of books you may like to encourage your child to read. The list is by no means exhaustive but provides examples of a good selection of fiction books and authors for your child to enjoy.
The list has been complied in sections to include both classic and modern stories and authors. It is an amalgamation of Michael Morpurgo’s 100 books all children should read and suggestions that you can find on booktrust.org.uk and lovereading4kids.co.uk
From Michael Morpurgo’s 100 books all children should read (Classic children’s books):