English at St Mark’s C of E Junior School

At St Mark’s C of E Junior School, we firmly believe that all children are entitled to a broad and balanced English curriculum, which is delivered in a way that recognises the varied needs of children and allows each individual to maximise their learning potential; preparing them for the application of English skills across the curriculum and life beyond education.

We strive for children to develop their voice and be able to share their ideas with others. In support of this, we ensure children are exposed to a rich and varied vocabulary to help prepare them for life. Through reading and well-chosen literature, pupils have a chance to develop spiritually, morally, socially and culturally.

The aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

The primary aims for English at St Mark’s are to ensure that all pupils:

  • Develop a love of the written word and enjoy reading for pleasure;
  • Read a range of texts fluently and with good understanding;
  • Develop the habit of reading broadly and often;
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge for reading, writing and spoken language;
  • Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style 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 whilst having a common respect for others’ opinions

Reading at St Mark’s – ‘Learn to read, read to learn’

We strongly believe in the above quoted phrase, as learning to read is one of the most important things that children can learn in school as it is fundamental to accessing all areas of learning and functioning in today’s society.

Reading strategies at St Mark’s:

  • Children are discretely taught whole-class sessions focusing on the VIPERS reading skills (See Appendix 1) in both their English lessons and across wider areas of the curriculum
  • High-quality texts drive children’s English lessons and inspire outcomes
  • We have a well-stocked library and children have timetabled library sessions each week
  • Every classroom has ’50 books to read before Year X’ which have been carefully selected to challenge, stimulate and inspire the young readers we have. The reading of these books are encouraged and monitored in every class and should be on children’s tables to encourage free-reading at points throughout the day
  • A wide range of texts on display in corridors for children to select and take home, read and return
  • Our home/school reading scheme focusses on children reading aloud to adults to support with fluency, comprehension and understanding
  • There is a 3 tiered book borrowing system in place – book banded books, teacher support in choosing appropriate texts and free readers
  • For children in need, a carefully created book banding system has been put in place to support their reading level and is phonemically appropriate – these are assessed regularly and result in children progressing through quickly
  • Reading challenges and competitions promote reading at home and support reading for pleasure and a life-long love of reading
  • Teachers and a range of staff model their own reading passions and interests through whole school assemblies, corridor displays, classroom door posters and reading their own texts during shared reading time
  • Fun-Read-Friday is an established reading approach in which children are paired across the school and share their current reading book and ask/answer questions about their choices and text being read

Writing at St Mark’s – ‘Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic’

We believe in immersing children in texts through reading and analysing the skills of an expert writer. This is important as, through this immersion, children become aware of the language skills of a writer and use this as a model for their own writing. Using this learning journey model, children develop greater competence in the conventions of spelling, punctuation, sentence structures and text organisation. These learning journeys are shared with the children prior to undertaking a new piece of writing and the subsequent lessons are tailored to teach and assess these integral steps to provide children with all the necessary tools for success.

Writing strategies at St Mark’s:

  • Teachers plan writing in Learning Journey units (See Appendix 2), led by a quality fiction or non-fiction text, or stimulus
  • Learning journeys are shared with children prior to any extended piece of writing
  • Outcomes are planned with purpose in mind
  • The teaching of Grammar is planned for and taught through writing sessions
  • Teachers model the writing process of an author
  • Vocabulary is always at the forefront of English lessons; we strive to equip the children with the best vocabulary possible to influence and use in their own writing
  • Opportunities for editing and reviewing written work is planned for and children are encouraged to take an increased responsibility for editing their work, with the reader in mind, as they progress through the school. These editing and reviewing skills are explicitly taught as part of the learning journey
  • Children are given the opportunity to publish their work regularly and take pride in their final creations

Phonics at St Mark’s

Since October 2019, phonics has been taught daily in Year 3. Children are taught using the scheme Letters and Sounds and lessons are further supplemented by other phonics programmes such as Phonics Play. Assessment plays a key role in this process to ensure the phonics teaching is specific to bridge children’s gaps and is at the correct level for individuals. These phonics lessons have already shown impact within the year group and catch-up phonics groups are in place for children further up the school with gaps in their phonic knowledge.

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