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' 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)


English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Across both writing and reading, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Year Six, the limited word hoard they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.

We believe that 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 and development of the spoken language requirements through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text.  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 ensures that objectives for reading and writing, including those for grammar can have purpose.

Speaking and Listening 

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

At St. George's the development of talk underpins all learning. Through targeted teaching of vocabulary and key knowledge, we aim to develop pupils who speak with confidence and clarity.

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 turns in discussion.

We understand that high quality writing comes from high quality speech. We plan for these opportunities within our curriculum whenever possible allowing children to formulate ideas, speculate and focus on language acquisition. We always encourage pupils to speak in full sentences, using technical vocabulary where possible and model correct language usage. The children develop their public speaking skills through annual class collective worships, end of year productions and 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 daily 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 Reception class. 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 is critical to pupils’ success in education and beyond. We value the process of writing and practice regularly to build strong, confident writers over time. Writing skills are developed through a text-based approach. Ambitious vocabulary is taught to enable children to express themselves creatively as well as to consolidate learning. Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) are taught through the key texts and models so children learn in a meaningful context which they can apply to their own writing. 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. Text are carefully chosen to deepen pupils knowledge of the wider 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. Publishing opportunities illustrate the importance of presentation and writing is celebrated in class and school displays.

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St George's Church of England Primary School

Coleman Road, Camberwell, London SE57TF

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