At St. Bernadette’s, we believe a high-quality of English education is vital to teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others; and so that through their reading and listening, they can understand others.
Our English curriculum has been carefully mapped out to include a range of current and high quality texts, which are rich in vocabulary. These texts include picture books, novels, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Our English curriculum provides children with all the necessary tools they will need in their future education and to participate fully as a member of society. We aim to ensure that all children will be confident and excited readers and writers who can apply their skills to access all areas of the curriculum, as well as nurturing their own enjoyment for these key skills.
Through high quality teaching of the National Curriculum we try to ensure that all children:
• 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 clearly explain their understanding and ideas
• are competent in speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At St Bernadette’s, our aim is for children to develop a life-long love of reading and an understanding that it enables them to access the world around them.
Phonics and early reading
Phonics plays an important role in the development of early reading. In Years R and 1, we use a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. All teaching staff are trained to deliver this programme, using resources specifically provide for the scheme. Find out more here.
In Years R and 1, children have daily phonics sessions during which they learn and practice a clearly sequenced progression of letters and sounds. Their progress is assessed every six weeks. Focused interventions are used to enable children to keep up and catch up with the pace of the scheme. In June of Year 1, children undertake a Phonics Screening Check to ensure they are secure in Phase 5 Phonics. In Year 2 and thereafter, children move on to learn word spellings and patterns following the National Curriculum, using the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme.
As part of the Little Wandle programme, children read books with a trained adult three times a week. These books are matched to the child’s phonic understanding, so that they encounter words containing the letters and sounds they are secure with. As the children progress through the programme, the books they encounter will increase in phonic complexity to reflect the range of letters and sounds they have been taught.
Once children have successfully completed the Little Wandle phonics programme, they will read a variety of books that are grouped into ability bands (KS1 Big Cat and KS2 Oxford Reading Tree). All children will have access to a banded reading book throughout their time at St Bernadette’s.
Early readers in KS2 will continue to develop their phonics and reading knowledge using the Little Wandle Rapid Catch-Up programme.
Reading skills and knowledge
We aim to develop holistic readers. Children in Year 2 until Year 6 are introduced to a wide range of genres through guided reading lessons. This is a whole class based reading session where the children are explicitly taught the skills of vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and sequencing (VIPERS). As well as this, children are taught reading knowledge that includes topic and subject knowledge; text knowledge; syntax and lexical knowledge; and vocabulary knowledge. The children develop these skills and knowledge by reading a carefully selected text. They explore the book, developing their fluency and sharing their ideas through a range spoken and written activities. This shared reading experience encourages children engage in discussions with their peers, share thoughts and ideas, promoting reading for pleasure and a love of reading, while developing comprehension skills.
Developing a love of reading is at the heart of our English curriculum. All classes have their own book corners where children can choose books at their leisure. We also have a well-resourced library which all classes visit at least once a week where the children can borrow a book of their choice. We have a close link with School’s Library Service (SLS), which ensures that our school and class libraries contain new and exciting texts which link to current learning across the curriculum. Throughout the year we encourage further reading by hosting book sales, celebrating World Book Day, encouraging participation in the summer reading challenge in association with Farnborough Library; and organising fundraising events to buy new books or reading materials.
Author of the Month
At St Bernadette’s we strive to promote the love of reading within our children.
To be a fluent reader is not only a necessary life skill, but one of life’s greatest pleasures. Books are a gateway for children and adults to explore new worlds, learn about the past, spark imaginations and develop critical thinking skills. Children should learn that reading is also a way to relax and therefore an important mental health tool.
To ensure our children read a rich variety of books and have an opportunity to learn about different writers and genres, we have launched Author of the Month.
Each month is dedicated to a different author. This is promoted on our website.
Class teachers map out writing journeys according to a specific form and purpose. This ensures that the skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling are being taught for a clear reason and outcome. Teachers also select reading skills from the National Curriculum as an opportunity to not only practice and learn these skills, but to use these them to develop their writing. All skills that are taught throughout a unit of work are used in the child’s final piece of writing. Therefore children are clear why they are learning these skills and who they are writing for. We carefully choose and plan using high quality texts (both visual and digital) as a basis for our English units. We encourage children to find their inner author.
The children learn handwriting through the scheme Letter Join. Children have frequent opportunities to practice and develop their handwriting. In KS1 children write in pencil and then all children are given the opportunity to write in pen when entering KS2.