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English

'I love English because I love being creative and writing lets my imagination run wild.' Ruby, Year 6

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English

At St. John's we help our learners become passionate about reading and writing.

English skills are enhanced through the whole curriculum. Children also have a daily English lesson of at least 1 hour.

 

Aims

The overarching aim for English at St John’s is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The curriculum at St John’s for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

These aims encompass all literacy within the school what ever the subject and pupils are encouraged to use the skills they have acquired in literacy across the curriculum.

 

 Spoken language

The curriculum at St John’s for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers at St John’s ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others, and teachers ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils are also taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.

All pupils are enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils are able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.

 

Reading

The programmes of study for reading in key stages 1 and 2 at St John’s consist of 2 dimensions:

  • word reading
  • comprehension (both listening and reading)

Teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are used for each and an understanding of how our pupils learn is integral to the way we teach English at St John’s.

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is taught daily from Nursery at St John’s using the Letters and Sounds Phonics Scheme.

 

Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. All pupils at St John’s are expected to read daily at home as well as have individual reading sessions with teachers and adults in school. All pupils also take part in Guided Reading sessions with the teacher, which give pupils an understanding of how to improve their phonic and comprehension skills. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.

It is essential that, by the end of their time at St John’s, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.

 

Writing

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading: 

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

It is essential that we teach and develop pupils’ competence in these 2 dimensions. In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.

Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.

 

 

Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.

Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting which all pupils are taught at St John’s.

 

Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation

Opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, teachers show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. Teachers also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than 1 meaning.

Pupils are taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use standard English. They are taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation.

Throughout the programmes of study, teachers teach pupils the vocabulary they need to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language. It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.

 

Interventions

At times, even with the high quality of teaching at St John’s, pupils may need some extra support to enable them to acquire the skills needed to access the national curriculum. At St John’s we offer a range of interventions to support pupils.

Teaching Assistants are trained in a range of intervention programs to support pupils in and out of class lessons. 

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