St Mary's

Catholic Primary School

English 2020-2021


The National Curriculum (2014) clearly states that teaching the English language is an essential, if not the most essential, role of a primary school.

At St Mary’s, we recognise that without effective communication, little can be achieved. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority, and we recognise that this is cross-curricular and a constant through-out school life and beyond. It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ (p6 National Curriculum) that is needed in society:

Teachers should develop pupil’s spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’ (p10 National Curriculum)

We are an inclusive school; we have high expectations, and recognise the importance of accurate and regular assessment in order to support individuals at every part of their learning journey, and in whatever circumstances. We use one-to-one support, small groups and cross-phase work to help with this. We plan teaching opportunities to help those for whom English is an additional language and those with disabilities outlined in the SEND code of practice. We agree with the statement of the National Curriculum, that ‘pupils…who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised’ (p13).


Click here for All Year Groups 'Must haves' in English

A selection of the fabulous World Book Day costumes this year!


The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’ (p10).

They should:

  • Justify ideas with reasons
  • Ask questions to check understanding
  • Develop vocabulary and build knowledge
  • Negotiate
  • Evaluate and build on the ideas of others
  • Select the appropriate register for effective communication
  • Give well structured descriptions and explanations
  • Speculate, hypothesise and explore ideas
  • Organise their ideas prior to writing


  • We encourage our pupils to speak clearly and confidently and articulate their views and opinions.
  • We teach children to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose.
  • By listening and responding to literature, giving and receiving instructions, they develop the skills of participating effectively in group discussions.


  • We encourage children to express themselves confidently through a range of role play/drama activities.
  • We endeavour to develop a child’s powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
  • We provide a dramatic context for learning in which children can be performers and respond to performers (being part of an audience).


Each classroom conveys the message that talk is valued.  Children’s contributions are celebrated in a variety of ways, such as talk partners, collaborative work and play. Such an atmosphere empowers children to share their thoughts and feelings, and to listen to and respect the views of each other. They become increasingly confident and are able to articulate thoughts, join in discussion and take part in negotiation from an early age.


The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Reading is singled out as being of extreme importance since through it  ‘pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually’ (p13). Reading allows pupils to ‘acquire knowledge’ and to ‘build on what they already know’ (p13).

 The 2014 Curriculum divides reading skills into two dimensions:

  • Word reading/ decoding
  • Comprehension

We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, writing, grammar and vocabulary. We also understand that reading is a developmental process and part of life-long learning and we encourage and praise children at every stage of it.


  • Develop confident and independent readers through inspiring a love of literature and a thirst for reading for pleasure.
  • Encourage children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers through contact with challenging and enriching texts.
  • Read a wide variety of genres and text types.
  • Read with confidence, fluency and understanding, orchestrating a range of independent strategies to self monitor and correct.


In Key Stages 1 and 2, home reading books are graded according to book bands. For Guided Reading they include scheme and high quality ‘real’ texts. In Key Stage 2 there is free choice if the child is able to read independently.

Each classroom has a rich and inviting reading area, which is equipped with a wide range of reading material. Children can browse and read in this space independently or as part of a group.


At St Mary’s, the support and encouragement of parents is sought and valued.  Particular emphasis is placed on building up a strong home/school partnership.  Parents will be helped to see that they have a vital role to play in their children’s reading development and they will be shown ways in which they can foster a love of reading in their children. There is an expectation that children will read regularly at home.


The National Curriculum states that pupils should:

  • Develop the stamina and skills to write at length
  • Use accurate spelling and punctuation
  • Be grammatically correct
  • Write in a range of ways and purposes including narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations
  • Write to support their understanding and consolidation of what they have heard or read


The 2014 Curriculum divides writing skills into two dimensions:

  • Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • Composition (articulating ideas in speech and writing)


We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods.

We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary.

Moderation of writing is carried out at regular intervals. Teachers meet regularly to evaluate individual examples of work against national exemplification materials.


At St Mary’s, we teach writing through ‘The Literary Curriculum’, a thematic, book based approach to the teaching of writing.  Children will write for a wide range of purposes and audiences, composing narrative, poetry, information texts, recipes, maps, adverts, notices, book reviews etc. Achievements are celebrated with certificates through our weekly celebration assembly.

  • Help children value and enjoy writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences.
  • Enable children to write with accuracy and meaning in narrative, non-fiction and poetry.
  • Enable children to be active and independent writers who will take risks and will regard mistakes as a learning opportunity.
  • Increase children’s ability to use planning, drafting and editing to improve their work.
  • Improve the quality of their writing through immersing children in the ‘reading into writing’ sequence.
  • Provide opportunities for children to initiate their own writing.
  • Write with confidence, fluency and understanding, orchestrating a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct.
  • Grammar is an integral part of our writing lessons.
  • We have a systematic approach, we revisit key learning and build upon it in all areas from phonics, through to grammar and spelling

We use high quality texts, modelling and shared/ collaborative writing to demonstrate good practice


At St Mary’s children are encouraged to develop a cursive script from Reception. In this way, the children will develop a handwriting style that is both fluent and legible. (p15 National curriculum)


  • To teach children correct letter formation and good handwriting habits so that pupils can write fluently and legibly.
  • To develop a positive attitude towards the presentation of writing.
  • To encourage children to have a sense of pride in their written work

Children are given many opportunities to master correct letter formation. From the early years they have opportunities for play during which they can draw and trace letters in a variety of media, e.g. sand and paint.  Collections of alphabet books, friezes and removable letters reinforce this learning. Reception children are taught to form letters of regular size and shape and to start and finish letters from the base line with entry and exit strokes. This will progress to joined handwriting from Year 1 if basic formation has been mastered.

Pencils are used for all work in Key Stage 1. In KS2, a pen license will be awarded to those children whose handwriting is of a consistently high standard, using a neat joined style in all work.


The National Curriculum makes clear that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ (p11) since it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts efficiently.

Vocabulary teaching needs to be:

  • Active
  • Progressive/ systematic
  • Making links from known words
  • Develop understanding of shades of meaning
  • Include ‘instruction verbs’ used in examinations
  • Subject specific- accurate mathematical and scientific words


We encourage our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, these include: 

  • Spelling lists/ key words to take home and learn
  • Display of key words linked to topics and subjects
  • Using the correct vocabulary orally
  • In-depth word based lessons looking at patterns
  • Using dictionaries, thesaurus and similar programmes
  • Using texts to explore vocabulary choices and the effect they have
  • Carrying out systematic testing and providing feedback to pupils
  • Targeted one to one/ small group support, where appropriate


At St Mary’s, we teach Phonics by following ‘Letters and Sounds’ from Nursery to Year 2. ‘Letters and Sounds’ is a phonics resource that was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of four, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

Letters and Sounds have six overlapping phases. 


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.


Phase Two (Reception)

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss


Phase Three (Reception)


The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.


Consonant diagraphs ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel diagraphs ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er


Phase Four (Reception and beyond)

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.


Phase Five (Throughout Year 1 and 2)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.


ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, oe, ew, au, ey, a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e


Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.



At St Mary’s, we teach Phase 2 and some of the Phase 3 of Letters and Sounds using ‘Jolly Phonics’ resources. ‘Jolly Phonics’ is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children.

The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.

‘Jolly Phonics’ works by using a synthetic phonics approach. ‘Jolly Phonics’ teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. The programme continues through school enabling the teaching of essential grammar, spelling and punctuation skills.

The five skills taught in Jolly Phonics.

  1. Learning the letter sounds - Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.
  2. Learning letter formation - Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.
  3. Blending - Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
  4. Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting) - Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.
  5. Tricky words - Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.

New graphemes in Phase 5 (and the remaining graphemes in Phase 3 that are not covered in ‘Jolly Phonics’) are taught using our own ‘in house’ sound, action and picture cards. The correct vocabulary (eg; phoneme/grapheme/diagraph/split diagraph/trigraph) has been introduced in line with new sounds and children are able to use them in their everyday learning.

We encourage the vital partnership between parents and school and to enable parents to support their children when reading at home.

A Phonics Screening Check is administered in June each year with the Year 1 pupils and any Year 2s who did not achieve the required result when in Year 1. The test includes 40 words that are a combination of real and pseudo (nonsense) words.

Glossary of terms

Phoneme – a distinct unit of sound. E.g. a, b, f,

Grapheme – the written representation of the sound.

Diagraph – two letters that make one sound. E.g. th, sh, ai, ay

Split diagraph – two letters that make one sound but have a letter between them. E.g. a-e (cake), i-e (bike)

Trigraph – three letters that make one sound. E.g. igh, air


From Year 2, Spelling is taught daily using ‘No Nonsense Spelling’.

The No Nonsense Spelling Programme offers progression in the teaching of spelling and focuses on teaching the strategies, knowledge and skills pupils need to learn such as patterns and rules. Integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions and personal spellings. No Nonsense Spelling meets the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum and has a clear progression through blocks of teaching units across the year. Children are given spellings to learn on a weekly basis.

Phonics and Early Reading Parent Presentation 4.11.20


In order for the children to be immersed in subject genres or writing styles, cross-curricular links will be made. There is an expectation that the application of literacy across the curriculum will consolidate and enrich the bigger picture of the children’s learning. Teachers will incorporate the opportunities for developing literacy skills across the curriculum. Teachers will be mindful of the literacy needs of the child in all subject areas, and differentiate questions and activities to allow all children access.



Opportunities will be provided for technology to be used whenever possible to enhance learning in English.



All children will have full access to English teaching. Any additional support that is required may take the form of whole class or part support allowing the child to benefit from the rich classroom literacy environment. Children may also be withdrawn at other times during the school day if this is felt appropriate.

Support Plans will set targets matching the needs of the child and, where appropriate, to the suitable objectives from the national Curriculum. SEND children will have the opportunity to work with the teacher, teaching assistant and independently.

In class the teacher will set differentiated activities to support less able and extend more able pupils and will identify this in their planning.



The teachers carry out formative and summative assessment. This is an integral part of their role and is used on a daily/weekly basis to inform future planning. It involves identifying children’s progress against teaching objectives, determining what a child has already achieved and moving him/her on to the next stage of learning.  Achievement in English will be marked against the pupils’ abilities to be effective communicators, enthusiastic readers of fiction and non-fiction, creative and imaginative users of language, and careful, evaluative listeners. This evidence is recorded on the class tracking record and is discussed at Pupil Progress Meetings and at Leadership Meetings.



Monitoring of the standards of children’s work and the quality of teaching in English is the responsibility of the subject leader. The work of the subject leader also involves supporting colleagues in their teaching, being informed about current developments in the subject, and providing a strategic lead and direction for English in the school. The subject leader gives the head teacher and governors a summary report evaluating the strengths and weaknesses in the subject, and indicating areas for further improvement. The leader has specially-allocated regular management time in which to review samples of the children’s work, interview pupils to assess attitudes to learning, undertake lesson observations and analyse data.