At St James Hatcham we understand the importance of English and intend to ensure all of our children:
- Read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct.
- Have an interest in books and read for pleasure
- Have an interest in words, their meanings and morphology; developing a growing vocabulary in spoken and written forms.
- Understand a range of text types and genres – be able to write in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to the situation.
- Are developing the powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
- Have a suitable technical vocabulary to articulate their responses.
- Are ambitiously aware of their journey as learners who celebrate the opportunity to improve.
English is important as it helps us broaden our vocabulary and learn more about the world. Being able to learn about different perspectives through discussing texts is my favourite part. Reading is a brilliant way to learn and get information. It’s a chance to escape reality and get really engrossed in a book.
Amilia, Year 6
Early Reading and Phonics
In Reception and Year 1, we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised which draws on the latest research into how children learn best; how to ensure learning stays in children’s long-term memory and how to best enable children to apply their learning to become highly competent readers. Year 2 follow the Little Wandle scheme up to the Spring Term and then they begin the Destination Reader programme. Some children in Key Stage two who require some additional support follow the ‘Rapid Catch up’ part of Little Wandle. As our children become more confident readers, we use Destination Reader strategies in whole class reading sessions in order to aid comprehension and support their oracy.
Our approach to phonics and Early Reading has been praised by Goldsmiths University who have used our enthusiastic teachers to model best practice in the post graduate teacher training course. Miss Kay recently attended a lecture to model for the student teachers:
All children at St James are provided with a colourful stairway of progression in reading through book banding. The colour bands begin at lilac (Reception aged child starting to share wordless books) and are available up to Black+ (super-confident Year 6) from many educational publishers and school suppliers of collections of ‘real’ books. At each stage, pupils have a sense of freely choosing books that appeal to their developing reading tastes within a selection that matches their ability, so they are able to get the most enjoyment and a sense of achievement.
At St James Hatcham we understand that writing is integral to success across the curriculum and to communicate ideas, not simply a stand-alone subject. We use a systematic approach, a 5 step writing process, to ensure motivation to communicate ideas in writing is embedded and that skills are taught in context.
We teach writing skills throughout the day and across the curriculum however all classes have at least one hour of dedicated English learning each day in addition to a taught reading session - either phonics or Destination Reader.
English sessions may include aspects of
- guided and independent writing
- spelling and phonics rules
Additionally, children are read with, and to, throughout the week and reading for pleasure is a high priority for our community as we know that the skills picked up through a deep understanding of high quality texts contributes to their ability to write with flair and purpose.
There are no shortcuts - the greatest success demands both time and intensity - but once the skill is properly established, it will be there for life.
National Handwriting Association
Pupils understand the importance of presentation skills to both communicate ideas and to demonstrate pride in our written outcomes.
We work progressively from the earliest stages to ensure we are preparing children to write; developing the environment and gross motor skills to enable good posture, supporting the development of a dynamic pencil grip, formation of single letters then di and tri-grams to the dictation of single words and short sentences until pupils are fluently applying their skills in self-generated text.
Additionally, we support the children in developing the 7 'S's:
- sitting on the line
Book making is a feature of our published writing and celebrates the end point of the 5 step writing process. We also acknowledge the increasing importance of digital communication and through Computing, ensure that the effective use of a keyboard is a critical skill for those with vision impairment, for motivating SEND learners or for those whose fine motor difficulties require an alternative to handwriting.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
At St James Hatcham we have a strong focus on developing a clear grammatical understanding of the English Language and on editing and redrafting skills in our writing. The essential skills of spelling, punctuation and grammar are taught at the earliest stage and approaches such as Colourful Semantics enable pupils to use word classes and predictable sentence construction across the curriculum with sense, purpose and clarity.
Grammar is taught through the writing curriculum so it is not seen as separate, and skills are revisited systematically and progressively throughout the primary curriculum.