At St Mary’s, we value reading and writing as key life skills, and we are dedicated to deliver an exciting, innovative Literacy curriculum which enables and empowers children's written and oral communication. We believe these fundamental skills are the key to academic success and so through speaking and listening, reading and writing, and rich vocabulary children learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and communicate with others effectively.
We believe our curriculum should enable all pupils:
At St Mary’s School, we believe in developing a reading culture throughout the school by creating welcoming book areas in all classrooms, by providing infant and junior libraries which hosts a variety of books, and by raising the profile of reading through a print rich environment, attractive book displays and promoting the written word at all times. We also recognise that reading is a core tool for life and we aim to foster a love for reading in all of our pupils through inviting authors and story-tellers into school to work with pupils.
We use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.
As the children’s reading skills develop they explore a wide variety of genre, both fiction and non-fiction which allows them to access, input ideas and understand what they are reading.
We foster a love of reading throughout the school using:
In addition to this, we work closely with parents to promote reading for pleasure at home. Children have full access to our Fiction Express scheme of work and are encouraged to take both fiction and nonfiction books from the libraries. Our reading rewards system rewards children certificates and exciting opportunities such as the ‘Platinum Picnics in the park’.
We believe that, in order to write high quality texts, children need to read high quality texts. It is our intention to immerse pupils within a text for them to fully understand the vocabulary and structure of the story.
At St Mary’s C of E we teach writing using Talk 4 Writing, developed by Pie Corbett. Talk for Writing is a fun, active and engaging process that enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. Talk 4 Writing has three stages: Imitation, Innovation and Invention, with the aim of the whole process being to create independent, enthusiastic authors.
A typical Talk 4 Writing unit would be begin with a creative context, linked to their topic, as we know our children learn best when they are active, challenged and engaged. Through practical activities, children learn a model text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements. Children hear the text and say it for themselves before they see it written down.
Once the children know the text well they 'read it as a reader'. This involves in depth discussions around the text, focussing heavily on vocabulary and oral comprehension. Reading comprehension strategies such as: summarising, imaging, predicting and making connections are taught explicitly.
The next stage is 'read as a writer' which involves identifying the underlying patterns of both the overall organisation, as well as how the writer creates different effects. The text is ‘boxed up’ (broken down into key sections) so that the structure becomes obvious, and can be used as a basic planning tool.
Once the children have internalised the text they are ready to start innovating. Younger children and less confident writers alter their text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say. More confident writers use the boxing up planning tool, then turn their plan into writing. This process enables children to write their own versions of the original text and develop their ability to generate good words and phrases.
Washing lines are used to collect and display models, words and phrases to support independent writing. Writing toolkits are provided to support the children through each writing genre, whilst encouraging the children to reflect on their own writing.
Children can innovate the model text in a variety of ways including: substituting characters and settings, writing prequels and sequels, introducing flashbacks and writing from a different characters perspective.
Finally, children move into invention where they write the text type independently and apply what they have learnt across the curriculum to create an individual piece.
Throughout the process, children work on daily spelling, vocabulary building and sentence work in relation to the initial assessments of their writing, as well as the demands of the text type.
During their time at St Mary’s, children gradually develop a bank of well-known texts, supplemented by picture books, novels, poems and non-fiction books. Each Year, this develops the children’s living library of high level vocabulary and creative writing techniques, building on previous learning and giving children confidence as writer. In the same way, the ability to manipulate that bank of texts increasingly enables children to create new versions and become inventive, blending and experimenting.
We believe that all children should have opportunities to:
Literacy is developed and assessed throughout the curriculum. Children demonstrate their reading and writing skills across a variety of subjects as cross-curricular writing is evident throughout the school. Children have the opportunity to peer and self asses to develop an understanding of their own goals as well as receiving meaningful feedback from their teachers. Children are also monitored using statutory assessment at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 as well as the Phonics Screening Test in Year 1. These assessment methods combine to create our rigorous triangulated monitoring system which allows us to demonstrate the continued high progress made within literacy.
By the time children leave St Mary’s, they are effective communicators with a thirst for reading developed through enquiry-based learning and carefully chosen literature. We believe that these skills equip our children to continue to make excellent progress on their journey through secondary school and beyond!