All pupils at St Christopher’s receive a high-quality education in English which teaches pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
The overarching aim for English at St Christopher’s is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
At St Christopher’s School, the importance of spoken language is reflected in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Therefore, teaching at St Christopher’s ensures the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
Our English curriculum in Nursery and Reception follows the Communication and Language guidance and Literacy: Reading and Writing guidance in the Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Our English curriculum in Years 1 to 6 follows the English Programmes of Study in the National Curriculum for England 2014.
The programmes of study for reading consist of two dimensions:
- Word reading
- Comprehension (both listening and reading).
All pupils at St Christopher’s, from Reception to Year 6, experience a daily Reading Workshop. This focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions. Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why early phonics is introduced in Nursery using the Jolly Phonics scheme.
The programmes of study for writing are constructed similarly to those for reading:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
At St Christopher’s School, all pupils in Reception to Year 6 have a daily 1 hour English lesson which focusses on the above skills. Grammar, punctuation and spelling are taught as part of this lesson and often as a ten minute ‘warm-up’ at the start. Handwriting is taught as a separate, stand-alone, lesson for 30 minutes each week in Year 1 and Year 2. Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 are taught to print, a continuous cursive style is then introduced in Year 2.
All pupils from Reception to Year 6 utilise the Big Writing approach. Children are taught to use ambitious vocabulary and a range of words and phrases that connect and extend ideas.
The formal curriculum is enhanced through visiting authors and illustrators, as well as whole school events, such as National Poetry Day, World Book Day, and the St Chris Inter-House Spelling Quiz.