“Christ is the centre of our school community, where we live, love and learn together.”
We at St Thomas More pursue the aspiration of excellence on behalf of our pupils. If they are to achieve to their full, God-given potential, then we must provide ample opportunities to a great variety of texts, that are high quality; frequent reading within the classroom; a structured approach to the development of phonics, handwriting and grammar; as well as a high standard set for speaking and listening within the whole of our curriculum.
The subject of English allows us to appreciate art and enables us to express ourselves, alongside providing the bedrock for much of our professional, working lives. With English at the root of a child’s learning, skills are developed with applications across the subjects, therefore it is essential that all children are enthused, engaged and enabled to do their best.
English at St Thomas More is progressive, with children deepening their understanding as they progress through the school.
A systematic phonic teaching approach is taught from EYFS, through Key Stage 1 and into Key Stage 2 when required. Children learn to decode words to read fluently and confidently, by growing their knowledge of the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure).
Statutory spellings, common exception words and spelling rules are taught within phonics and English lessons and are encouraged to be used in the writing produced as children utilise their phonic mats, spelling books and working walls.
Acquisition of vocabulary
There is ambition in the sharing of vocabulary so that children are equipped to produce written work of the best quality possible. The use of Magpie Books and Word of the Day alongside topical word mats means that pupils are assisted as much as possible to avoid the vocabulary gap and allow all children a command of language. Talk for Writing is also taught across EYFS and KS1. It is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version.
Speaking and Listening
Capitalising on any occasion where children can read in the class are paramount, with assemblies, prayer services and presentations giving formal platforms for pupils also. Drama within the immersion of a text, including hot seating and Talk for Writing or the exploration of poetry, also means St Thomas More has a breadth of avenues into learning with children expressing, narrating and eulogising on top of performing.
Classes in EYFS and Key Stage 1 stick closely to a focused text to develop children’s awareness of structure and to scaffold their writing as they begin their journey as young authors. Our ‘Big Cat’ reading scheme supports the improvement of a child’s reading, with children heard read with great regularity in a 1:1 setting to ensure the text is appropriately challenging. Reading books are phonetically plausible throughout this key time of reading development. Children then move on to a free choice of book as they become independent, engaged and discerning readers.
Core texts are chosen for their quality and possible links to the wider curriculum for full immersion: captivating our pupils should always be the intention. Comprehension is a skill taught throughout lessons and discreetly in focused class sessions each week, so children are not just competent readers but thoughtful, engaged readers also. Classes are granted free reading time during transition points to help cultivate their love of reading.
Reading areas in classrooms and throughout the school are of the greatest importance with St Thomas More. Class reads are displayed in each classroom along with children’s comprehension activities.
Our English is structured so that a model of ‘reading into writing’ is utilised. Overviews of content and writing skills are plotted out to ensure an incremental build-up of techniques at the disposal of pupils, whilst ensuring their knowledge of different genres and forms of writing are also constantly evolving.
Throughout school, children experience shared, guided and modelled writes, along with guidance on how to write grammatically correctly, and use accurate spellings, so that they are prepared to produce their own independent pieces.
Additionally, an awareness of purpose and audience is always discussed and shared so that pupils may tailor their writing accordingly. That independence is developed further through our deployment of self-assessment and editing, which is valuable for a writer when crafting their work.
English is one subject but is the focal point for so much of our learning and growth as people. If pupils are to fully embrace who God made them to be, then pupils must receive a fun, engaging, provoking curriculum that expands their horizons and provides windows for children to look out at the world and all its possibilities.
Reading lists and Suggested Texts
Little Wandle phonics scheme
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) developed for schools by schools. Based on the original Letters and Sounds, but extensively revised to provide a complete teaching programme meeting all the expectations of the National Curriculum, the Ofsted Deep Dive into reading and preparing your children to go beyond the expectations of the Phonics Screening Check.
The programme overview, pronunciation guide and grapheme information can all be found below, should you wish to learn more about our delivery of phonics.
Below are a list of links that you can access to have further books and reading materials if you wish to engage in more learning at home
RSPB stories for Primary aged children
Download the story of Lucky Duck
Have six well-known classics as audiobooks, with a copy of the text (Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Railway Children, Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Black Beauty).
Some fun activities based on Harry Potter.
Loads of fun stories from Michael Rosen.
All about Coronavirus for children
Discovering books in the British Library –
The Linking network has PPTs to accompany stories – link to audio story in the PPT, which raises questions about the story.
Poetry by heart – read a poem a day.
Poetry timeline – read the poem from that year.
Borrow Box and Libby App, because the local library is open, it’s just online.
Below are a list of links that you can access to support original writing if you wish to engage in more learning at home
Writing your own diary
British Library projects - Get creative with activities for children of all ages. Invent your own superhero, make a pop-up book and much more.
Writing together at home.
Creative writing ideas.