'English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach 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. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development.'

(National Curriculum 2014)

The study of English encompasses:
Spoken Language (speaking and listening)
Spelling, grammar and punctuation.

English at St George's

Reading is the vital link for children to become confident writers. We use high quality texts and follow a text-based teaching approach throughout the school to engage our learners.  The books chosen offer opportunities to develop empathy and can aid philosophical enquiry, as a means of developing the spoken language requirements through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text. A love of reading feeds into a passion for writing and of course children cannot write until they can speak, so the role of speaking and listening, rehearsing and developing vocabulary is crucial to development of English skills.

In our school the teaching of English allows pupils to incrementally build their skills in reading and writing within a carefully designed curriculum. By placing books at the core, we allow teachers to use the text as the context for the requirements of the national curriculum.  Our chosen approach can support teachers with ensuring that objectives for reading and writing, including those for grammar can have purpose.

Speaking and listening at St. George's’s.

Reading and writing float on a sea of talk' (Britton, 1971).

At St. George's we aim to develop pupils who speak with confidence and clarity.

Speaking and listening is comprised of four main areas:

  • Speaking
  • Listening and responding
  • Group discussion and interaction
  • Drama

Through working together, in pairs and in small groups, children learn to:
Develop the language and social skills needed for cooperation and collaboration;

  • Use exploratory language to try out ideas;
  • Extend their ideas and share them with others;
  • Stretch their language as they talk critically and constructively.
  • Support and build on each other’s contributions;
  • Take their turns in discussion.

The children have the opportunity to develop their speaking skills in front of audiences through annual class collective worships, end of year productions and through leading collective worships. 

We aim to create successful, fluent, readers who will monitor their understanding of what they are reading and review the text when something does not make sense. In reading lessons, pupils are explicitly taught strategies including inference, questioning, clarifying, summarising, prediction and activating prior knowledge. The pupils use these strategies to check how well they comprehend what they have read, and overcome barriers to comprehension. Pupils develop skills in skimming and scanning, forming opinions, thinking aloud, asking questions, getting the gist, connecting to prior knowledge, inference and prediction. These skills are applied by the pupils with increased independence when interacting with texts across all curriculum areas. Pupils are exposed to a rich and varied reading curriculum which helps them develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Phonics is taught throughout the school using the Read Write Inc. scheme, which ensures systematic coverage and progression. Children start phonics when they join our nursery. Phonics is taught in small groups focusing on children's recognition of the letter sounds and how to read and write these.
In Reception and Key Stage 1 children are taught in smaller groups, led either by the class teacher or by trained learning support staff. The children are assessed regularly to ensure that they are in the appropriate group for supporting and extending their individual needs. Year 1 children take part in statutory Phonics Screening during the summer term, and parents are informed of their child's achievement at the end of the school year. Read Write Inc. continues to form the basis for the teaching of spelling from Year 2 upwards.

Writing skills are developed through a text-based approach. Pupils develop an understanding of purpose and form and the ability to evaluate the notion of appropriateness. From ‘hooking’ the pupils in at the start of a unit and exploring the text in order to build an understanding of the writer’s craft, pupils develop a deep understanding of the components of writing – planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and then publishing. The writing curriculum plans for diverse stimuli for writing which encourages high levels of engagement. Allowing pupils, the time to explore the text, introduce new writing skills before applying the skills with greater levels of independence ensures a deeper understanding of writerly choices. Text are carefully chosen to deepen pupils knowledge of the wiser curriculum, while ensuring pupils are immersed in our rich and varied literary heritage.

At St George's we always aim for our writing opportunities to be meaningful; whether short or long and that the audience is clear.  Using Books as a context means that children have real reasons to write, whether to explain, persuade, inform or instruct. Writing in role using a range of genres is key to our approach as is writing a critique of the text and making comparisons – all writing skills that will support children in preparation for their time in secondary school. 

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St George's Church of England Primary School

Coleman Road, Camberwell, London SE57TF

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