“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
At Holy Cross, we feel strongly that if children have a love of learning this will help them to achieve their best. Therefore, our English vision is one where children develop their passion and skillset for reading, writing and oracy in a cohesive and meaningful way. Our English curriculum has been planned with this in mind, ensuring that the learning is exciting and purposeful for the children. Our aim is that children will then be creative and confident communicators and will then be able to transfer these skills.
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, either from ‘Power of Reading’ or vocabulary rich topic-based texts. 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 age appropriate ways 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 are 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. As well as using oracy skills in all areas of English, and the wider curriculum, Key Stage Two pupils also have weekly oracy sessions.
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.
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 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, prosody 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:
- following a systematic and well-structured phonics programme (see Phonics subject page)
- reading books that link directly to known GPCs
- learning to read with increasing fluency and prosody
- answering 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:
- group/guided/whole class reading
- regular independent reading
- listening to books read aloud on a daily basis
- pupils selecting their own choice of texts
- regular reading of texts during English lessons
- reading in other subjects across the curriculum
- regular reading with an adult
In Reception and KS1, we offer pupils books from our Phonics scheme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, which are matched to each child’s phonic level. Reading books are assigned on a weekly basis after they have been read in school with a trained member of staff. The sessions in school focus on decoding, prosody and comprehension. Pupils also choose a free choice book to take home from the class book corner. This book is to be shared with an adult at home to develop a love of reading. In Year 2, when pupils complete the phonics scheme, they will move onto class books. Similarly, 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. Pupils who are still working through the phonics scheme in KS2 may be offered a phonics book, matched to their known sounds, as well as a free choice book.
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, reading buddies, DEAR (drop everything and read) and enticing and exciting book corners. We also encourage children to read to an adult at home regularly. This is monitored by class teachers.
At Holy Cross, we aim for children to be independent writers. Writing is embedded not only in our English lessons but across our whole curriculum. 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; 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 carefully selecting a high-quality, vocabulary rich text using ‘Power of Reading’ texts or a topic based text we aim to nurture a love of literature and language, whilst giving 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
We place great value on the importance of accurate spelling. At Holy Cross spelling is taught regularly in focussed sessions. Spellings are sent home 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.
At Holy Cross we follow the ‘Letter Join’ handwriting scheme. This is a systematic programme to ensure our pupils develop a neat, legible, speedy handwriting style using continuous cursive letters. This will 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.
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 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 the content taught to then be able to embed these in their writing.
We hope that by following our personalised curriculum each child can be an author in their own right.