English at St Mark’s
“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. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.”
The National Curriculum
Key concepts and big ideas
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading)
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
At St Mark’s, our English curriculum is designed to develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion and prepare our learners for life as successful, valuable and socially responsible citizens. We inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We nurture a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly, imaginatively and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to use discussion to communicate and further their learning in all areas of the curriculum.
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Our carefully sequenced, broad and balanced curriculum, underpinned by inclusive practice, aims to provide our children with the opportunity to build on their experiences in order to achieve their goals. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education across the curriculum. We whole-heartedly ‘promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.' (National Curriculum 2014)
Our English curriculum is implemented through the use of rich texts and engaging pupils with a cross-curricular approach. Texts are chosen to link with the topics pupils are learning about and these are used as a springboard to inspire pupils to read and write. We believe that choosing the right context and starting point to engage our children in their learning is vital in fostering a love for reading and writing.
Our English curriculum aims to provide many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We want all of our pupils to be proficient readers, writers, spellers and speakers, who can transfer their English skills to other curriculum subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their education. Our English lessons develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary, teaching them how to write within specific genres and which structural and language features to include to be successful. Example texts are used to start this process to enable pupils to use other similar writing as models for their own. Lessons also focus on teaching specific spelling, grammar and punctuation skills to enable our pupils to apply the skills they have been taught to their extended writing and writing across the curriculum. We teach our pupils to speak clearly, to convey their ideas fluently and confidently and to ask questions. Teachers use a wide variety of resources as appropriate to their classes, but also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study.
Children leave St Mark’s Primary School as happy, confident learners who have developed a love of reading and writing with the key skills and knowledge necessary for the next stage of their learning. They have high aspirations and are confident in the art of speaking and listening, able to successfully use discussion to communicate and further their learning.
The Power of Reading project CLPE’s highly successful Power of Reading project enhances teachers’ and children’s pleasure in reading, and raises children’s achievement through teachers’ knowledge of literature and its creative use in the classroom. The project has now been running for over eight years and has worked nationally with more than 1400 schools and 2250 teachers in 20 Local Authorities from Cumbria to Bournemouth and Bristol to Cambridgeshire.
The project aims to enhance teachers’ and children’s pleasure in reading and raise children’s achievement through developing teachers’ knowledge of literature and its use in the primary classroom.
Analysis of data from participating schools and local authorities (2008-10) shows 70% of children progressed by 2 or more National Curriculum sub levels and 30% by 3 or more. Data specifically indicates that as a result of the project the rate of progress for boys is narrowing the attainment gap between boys and girls. Data shows significant improvements in writing.
Positive attitudes to reading
Findings from the research, funded by the Arts Council, shows that children are:
- choosing to read more often and at greater length
- keen to read challenging books
- more confident and knowledgeable in talking about books
- willing to seek out deeper meanings in texts
- showing greater enjoyment and achievement in writing.
Changes in attitude have been particularly significant for boys who have been reluctant readers and writers.
Each class at St Mark’s CE Primary follows several CLPE core book projects each year, such as: