Holy Cross Catholic Primary School

English

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  
Dr Seuss

The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and 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. 

At Holy Cross, we understand that English is intrinsic to all aspects of school life. It is fundamental to communicate both orally and through the written word; it is our aim to develop our pupils to achieve their full potential, giving equal opportunities to every child. Our belief is that successful teaching of English is essential, if children are to achieve in all areas of the curriculum. By developing a love of reading and writing in our children it will help them achieve successfully at school and throughout their lives: enabling them to become lifelong learners. Pupils are given opportunities to connect the requirements of English within a broad and balanced curriculum, with many opportunities to consolidate and reinforce taught English skills throughout the day. Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes a confident reader, writer and speaker during their time at Holy Cross.

Our English curriculum is based around a sequence of high-quality, age appropriate texts, many from ‘The Power of Reading’. We use each book to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading skills. We focus on grammar and punctuation, knowledge and understanding of texts, and encourage pupils to use and apply this across the wider curriculum. Children are given opportunities to explore the writing structure and features of different genres; plan and write a piece of writing with clear context and purpose, before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and redrafting. Our curriculum allows children to have the opportunity to explore high quality texts in depth and gives teachers the chance to use their own creativity to bring these to life.

Speaking & Listening

We believe that well developed speaking and listening skills are crucial to a child’s development. and fundamental to learning. At Holy Cross we ensure that speaking and listening is embedded across all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to speak clearly, confidently and with expression. Children use speaking and listening to solve problems, speculate, share ideas, make decisions and reflect on what is important. 

We also impress on our pupils the importance of listening carefully to others and responding in appropriate ways. At Holy Cross, pupils are given opportunities in all areas of the curriculum to develop their speaking and listening skills through paired, group or whole class situations. Role play and drama sessions are key elements of speaking and listening across the school.

It is our goal that our pupils are able to:

  • Speak with confidence, expressing themselves and offering a point of view
  • Listen intently and follow instructions successfully whilst listening to what others say and responding appropriately

Reading

Reading is a vital skill that should be acquired as early and efficiently as possible to enable children to have maximum access to all areas of the curriculum. We aim to develop in our pupils a love of reading that will stay with them throughout their lives. Reading is promoted as an enjoyable activity and as a life skill at Holy Cross. We instil a love of reading in our pupils through well-taught and carefully planned, engaging lessons and regular reading sessions. 

Our aims are to enable children to:

  • Develop positive attitudes towards reading, so that it is a pleasurable and meaningful activity
  • Use reading skills as an integral part of learning across the curriculum
  • Read and respond to a variety of texts whilst gaining increasing levels of accuracy, fluency, independence and understanding
  • Develop different strategies for approaching reading, and be able to use and understand the full range of strategies 

Children are taught to read by:

  • listening to texts that are read to them on a regular basis in school
  • identifying letters and words in the environment and during phonics lessons
  • learning to recognise digraphs and trigraphs both in isolation and in real and ‘pseudo’ words
  • reading books with adults both at school and at home
  • answering comprehension questions about a text they have listened to, or read themselves
  • identifying new vocabulary and using dictionaries to help them understand its meaning
  • practising and extending reading across the curriculum

Children have a range of reading opportunities throughout the course of the school day, in which to develop and extend their skills, confidence and interest. These include:

  • guided reading 
  • regular independent reading
  • listening to books read aloud on a daily basis 
  • pupils selecting their own choice of texts
  • regular reading of shared texts during English lessons
  • reading in other subjects across the curriculum
  • regular reading with an adult

Reading Scheme

At Holy Cross we are able to offer our pupils books from the Oxford Reading Scheme, which supports word recognition, and a range of Phonics books which are matched to each child’s reading level. Reading books are changed on a weekly basis, and pupils also choose a free choice book to take home from the class book corner. In Key Stage 2, pupils select appropriate texts under the guidance of the teacher or teaching assistant for independent and home/school reading. As pupils progress through the school, they are given more responsibility for making their own reading choices from the wide range of resources we have in school.

Promoting Reading

Reading is an important part of the curriculum and helps children access learning in all subjects. Children who read for pleasure gain a rich vocabulary, more knowledge, critical thinking skills and become independent learners. As well as this, research also suggests that reading helps to improve the mental well-being of children. It is therefore vital that children find learning to read and write a rewarding and successful experience. Reading is promoted as an enjoyable and enriching experience to both children and parents via a wide range of activities, such as World Book Day, author visits, reader leaders, reading buddies, and enticing and exciting book corners. We also encourage children to read to an adult at home at least four times a week.

Writing

At Holy Cross, we aim for children to be independent writers. We encourage them to write clearly and with confidence in any given genre. We teach them to use punctuation and grammar accurately in a meaningful context, to be able to proof-read their own work and make amendments and improvements. We recognise that quality writing is a product of following a highly structured process of looking at a great example; planning; crafting a range of engaging sentences; using success criteria; teacher modelling of the writing process through shared writing; drafting and editing.

We give children a wide range of opportunities in which to develop their writing skills and display work of which they are proud. Through using ‘the Power of Reading’ texts we aim to nurture a love of literature and language, and give children the confidence to continue writing throughout their lives. 

At Holy Cross we aim to ensure that our pupils are able to confidently:

  • Communicate through writing and be prepared for writing tasks throughout their lives
  • Undertake written work in other subjects and to have confidence in the sense, accuracy and clarity of their writing
  • Express themselves through writing and develop good transcription skills

Spelling

We place great value on the importance of accurate spelling. At Holy Cross spelling is taught regularly in focussed sessions in each class from Year 1 to Year 6. Spellings are sent home in each year group as part of the children’s homework; the pupils are then tested on these words in their weekly spelling tests and encouraged to use these words in their writing. 

Handwriting

At Holy Cross we follow the ‘LetterJoin’ handwriting scheme. This is a systematic programme which will ensureour pupils develop a neat, legible, speedy handwriting style using continuous cursive letters and also help children to see and remember spelling patterns. Pupils should experience coherence and continuity in the learning and teaching of handwriting across the whole school and be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their work. Our aim is to help pupils enjoy learning and developing their handwriting with a sense of achievement and pride.

Grammar

At Holy Cross we understand that explicit knowledge of grammar is extremely important as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language. Grammar lessons are taught weekly as part of our curriculum and well-planned sequence of lessons. Pupils are taught discrete grammar skills allowing opportunities to identify, practice and consolidate grammatical understanding. Our aim is that pupils will begin to independently apply the grammar skills and content taught and embed these in their writing.