Our school community is inspired by the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) where we are encouraged to think about and understand that the smallest things have the greatest potential when they are provided with the best environment for growth. This is exactly what we all strive for at St James’; a learning environment where all our children can flourish and grow in their own unique way.
At St James’ CE Primary School, we are committed to providing our children with a curriculum that has a clear intention and impacts positively upon their needs.
When our children leave St James’, we understand how a strong grounding in English will impact their future learning and the development of a child in all aspects of their life. We want our children to become avid readers, who read with fluency and enjoyment, they can make comments about a text and explain their preference and know that there are many genres and authors to choose from. We want our children to be able to write for a range of purposes and audiences whilst developing their own flair. Writing grammatically, using a range of vocabulary and applying the range of spelling rules alongside a neat and joined handwriting style is essential in our children becoming confident writers now and in the future. We aim for our children to apply these English skills across the curriculum.
- To create confident writers who develop stamina for writing throughout school and are able to write at length.
- For all of our children to be independent writers, building on a range of skills as they work through each journey of writing.
- That all of our children are exposed to high quality texts that model excellent writing practises across a broad range of genres.
- Ensure that all pupils know how to plan, practise, evaluate their work as well as carry out an effective edit and improvement process using feedback from the teacher.
- That our children are challenged and encouraged to take risks and view mistakes as a positive part of the learning process.
- To provide a balanced and broad curriculum, which allows the children to write within the different genres alongside handwriting, spelling, grammar and widening vocabulary.
- To be inclusive of all children, including SEND by providing the appropriate scaffolding, support and writing tools those children need in their writing process to experience success.
- That our children have high expectations of themselves where they take pride in all aspects of learning and in everything they produce.
Reading is at the core of our curriculum. Children will read at school as well as listen to adults and other children read to help them develop listening skills as well as fluency when reading aloud. Each classroom has a library where children can select books to read as well as use the Collins Big Cat books which are linked to the phonics programme, we use in EYFS and key stage and lower key stage 2. Each class have a novel that is shared each day and develops listening skills. The teaching of comprehension is essential in children learning how to understand the text and the author choices. These are taught through comprehension lessons and through our guided reading sessions. Reading for pleasure and enjoyment is at the heart of what we do and we read across the curriculum and through all our lessons so that our children can access the wide range of genres to enable them to be successful readers that will impact their learning.
At St James we use the ‘Little Wandle’ phonics programme that is linked to our reading books which are from Collins Big Cat. The programme fosters Children’s speaking and listening skills and equips them the phonic knowledge and skills to enable them to become a fluent reader. Foundation stage and Key stage 1 classes have daily Phonics lessons that reinforces a letter sound and phase. There are 5 phases and these are taught as a whole class and in smaller groups or on a 1:1 basis. The phonics learning will match the book the children are reading to ensure that this allows the children to practice the sound and develop skills in becoming an independent reader. High quality lessons, practical and interactive lessons are used and in Year1 the children complete a phonics screening check in the summer term. This shows whether they have met the expected standard of phonics knowledge for their age. Children who do not the standards are supported in Year2 to help them reach the expected standard. All staff are trained to deliver the phonics programme to ensure consistency and support for the children.
Cursive handwriting teaches pupils to join letters in words as a series of continuous flowing movements or patterns and children are taught cursive handwriting from Reception onwards using ‘Letterjoin’ our online platform that is used in school and through home learning. Children will develop writing words without taking the pencil off the page. Continuous style provides a directional left, right movement. This flowing, rhythmical movement aids speed and fluency particularly when practised from Foundation level with the final product being neat and fast. This cursive style also lessens the chance of reversing letters by eliminating the need to lift the pencil between letters. The spaces between words become distinct and distinction between upper and lower case is clearer. Pupils with specific learning disabilities find continuous cursive useful because the pencil stays on the page throughout every word, thus simplifying the movement.
At St James’ we believe that spelling has a direct effect upon progress in all other areas of the curriculum and is crucial to developing a child’s confidence, motivation and self-esteem. We provide children with a range of spelling strategies throughout school which cater for different learning style. Early spelling is taught through phonic work in Early Years, Foundation and Key Stage 1 using our phonics programme of ‘Little Waddle’ and Collins Big Cat . As children move from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, the emphasis shifts from the teaching of phonics to more focussed teaching of spelling strategies, conventions and rules to build upon the children’s established phonic knowledge. However, phonic support and intervention is still provided in Key Stage 2 to those children who need it.
Each unit of writing will consist of learning done through a learning journey throughout the unit/ theme in lessons delivered and planned for by our teachers using the national curriculum objectives. This is in order to ensure that the build-up of knowledge and skills is progressive and clear. Although the pedagogical process is detailed for each lesson, teachers have the professional scope to make adjustments where they think they are needed. For example, if more than one lesson is needed to embed a skill then this can be done or if an extra lesson is needed for drama/speaking and listening then teachers have the freedom to do so. Each stage of the learning process is evident in our books, learning environment, planning and pupil voice discussions. Learning journeys are usually based on high quality texts but we also use videos, real life events, images or lyrics from a song (anything that might get the children excited about writing.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. Teachers complete termly assessment, which allows them to have a clear understanding of what the children in their class need in order to become a successful writer and reader and that then influences what and how it is taught to the children in order for them to be successful.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.
We hope that as children move on from St James’ to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do, so that they are a lifetime reader and writer.