English at St Peter's
By the time children leave St Peter’s we expect our pupils to be able to communicate through speaking, reading and writing, with confidence, fluency and understanding. These vital skills will pave the way for an enjoyable and successful school experience and prepare the children for life.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
The aspiration for each of our children is based upon the need for them to enter the world of work as articulate and literate individuals with a strong love of reading. Competence in reading is the key to independent learning and has a direct effect on progression in all other areas of the curriculum. At St Peter's, our aim is not only for all children to develop the key skills they need but to foster a love and passion for language and literature and encourage imagination, curiosity and new interests and outlooks. We support children to:
Become fluent, independent and reflective readers
Read a wide variety of genres
Develop a broad range of reading skills
Use texts to broaden vocabulary
We aim to create “readers for life” - children who develop a love of books, who enjoy reading and read for pleasure. We provide opportunities for children to listen to their teachers read, read themselves, with partners and with other children across the school on a regular basis.
We play an important role in helping children to develop into confident readers. We believe that parents play an essential role in helping their child to learn to read.
Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds (phonemes), that accompany the written letters (graphemes). It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2. At St Peter’s, we follow the “Letters and Sounds” synthetic phonics produced by the Department for Education. Phonics teaching is part of our daily routine at St Peter’s and begins in Nursery and continues throughout Key Stage One. Pupils in Year 2 who have not yet passed their phonics test have additional phonics support through small group interventions. Children in KS2 who are developing their phonological awareness will also take part in small group interventions.
In some year groups, the pupils are streamed according to their phonics ability in order to provide targeted support.
Year 1 phonics screening check
At the end of Year 1, children will undertake a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to an appropriate standard. There are 40 words in the screening check which children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. The check is made up of ‘real words’ (eg. ‘mud’) and ‘non-words’ (eg. ‘splog’) and children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read all words. Preparation for the check takes place during the daily phonics session, but parents/carers can help children by practising phonics on a regular basis.
What sort of check is it and is it compulsory?
It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills. Every child in England reads the same words.
There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.
What does it check?
It checks that your child can:
What are nonsense or pseudo words and why are they included?
These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.
The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it.
How will my child be scored? Is there a pass mark?
If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check, the following summer term when they are in Year 2.
The test is out of 40 and a score of 32 or higher is usually a pass mark.
What happens to the results?
We report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority, but the results won’t be published in a league table as with Year 6 SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your child’s class teacher or our phonics lead.
Do all schools and children have to participate?
All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check.
What can I do to help my child?
Check with your child’s teacher if there are any particular areas that you should focus on at home so that you are working together to support your child and enjoy the pleasure of reading together every day.
What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?
Key Stage 2
We expect our children to be fluent readers by the time they move into Key Stage 2, and therefore our approach to teaching reading evolves into the development of expression, comprehension and exposure to a greater range of texts. Children are still given opportunities to read aloud and develop their fluency and expression further, not just in reading sessions but in drama and poetry recital opportunities in English or topic lessons.
Guided reading is taught throughout the school and explicitly addresses the skills children need to become successful readers. Guided reading is delivered in two ways – in group and whole class sessions. In these sessions, children are taught the decoding of words and the skills needed for fluent and expressive reading. As the children become fluent readers, the focus for these guided sessions moves towards improving comprehension skills. From Key Stage 1, all children take part in whole class reading sessions. As a class the children are introduced to text and through a carefully planned set of lessons, they will identify and discuss new vocabulary, develop their reading fluency and practise their comprehension skills. This whole class approach enables all children, whatever their reading ability to have exposure to high quality, texts and to be taught explicitly the comprehension skills required in the curriculum.
The Power of Reading
We teach literacy daily as a discrete subject from Year 1 to Year 6, following the National Curriculum, with opportunities for Literacy in the Foundation Stage being incorporated into the child’s day according to the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Through the Power of Reading, we use high quality texts and creative teaching approaches to engage and motivate children in their literacy learning, to support children in deepening their understanding of texts and provide them with a meaningful context for writing
Additional Reading Support
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that children develop the necessary literacy skills within a whole class context, it is sometimes necessary for children to be provided with additional support. In reading, this support is provided through:
1:1 and small group reading interventions
What difference can I make as a parent?
You can make a huge difference! Parents are the most important educators in a child’s life – even more important than their teachers – and it’s never too early to start reading together.
Further evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
Reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
‘Read On. Get On.’ is a national campaign from Save The Children aimed at getting all children in the UK reading well by the age of 11. Watch their powerful film here
Please click below for some helpful reading tips:
"You can make anything by writing."
At St Peter’s, we believe learning to write is one of the most important things that a child at primary school will learn. Not only do children use their writing in almost all other subjects of the curriculum but good writing also gives children a voice to share their ideas, opinions and imagination with the world. We use a variety of learning and teaching styles in our daily Literacy lessons in order to meet the needs of all our pupils. At St Peter’s, we support children to become confident writers by providing exciting materials and opportunities. Our aim is for children to develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation and a fluent and legible, handwriting style. They are taught the correct use of grammar at each stage. Children are given the opportunities to write in a variety of genres, covering the full range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and are taught to edit and redraft their writing for a range of audiences.
Through our use of high-quality texts and models of writing, we aim to:
inspire children to develop a variety of writing styles
promote enjoyment of writing
encourage children to make careful word choices
use writing as a means of effectively communicating their feelings, ideas and opinions
understand that all writing has a specific purpose and audience
Texts may be fiction or non-fiction books, picture books or chapter books, poetry or newspaper articles, and these will be the basis for learning and writing content, and may be adapted to suit the particular needs of the class.
English lessons will use a range of creative approaches to support the pupil’s understanding and exploration of the text, such as drama, hot-seating, story maps, speaking and listening tasks, visits to settings, illustration, debates or research.
In addition to these creative approaches, there is consistent teaching of the structure and features of different text types with a link to the grammar and punctuation needed to making their independent writing successful. This will involve looking at good examples of the text type, identifying the key features, creating toolkits for writing, teacher modelling and time to draft, edit and publish where appropriate.
Cross curricular literacy
English is both a subject in its own right and a medium for teaching. For children, understanding language will provide access to the whole curriculum. We believe that fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects and our aim is ensure that all children can apply, practise and consolidate language and literacy skills in other subjects in a purposeful way.
Children’s command of vocabulary is key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Teachers will therefore develop vocabulary actively, building systematically on children’s current knowledge. We believe it is particularly important to introduce children to subject specific language, such as accurate mathematical and scientific vocabulary. We recognise using ICT can provide children with additional learning hours and support them in practising and consolidating their learning from school.
Promoting literacy at St Peter’s
Throughout our school year, we nurture our children’s love of literacy and provide further opportunities to build reading and writing confidence and its important role in our history and the wider world. This includes our annual World Book Day celebrations where everyone takes great pride in dressing up as book characters for the day and extra opportunities are given to “drop everything and read” throughout the day.