Skip to content ↓

St Stephen's

Building Each Other Up in Love and Learning

English

Please click here for our English Curriculum Overviews by year:   

Vision for English at St Stephen’s 

A high-quality English education at St Stephen’s will teach pupils to speak and write fluently.  Thus enabling them to think critically and give them the power to debate with confidence, so that they can communicate their ideas, preferences and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. They can access all forms of media and make informed choices to do so.  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, to build on what they already know and provides a source of enjoyment for their well-being. Our highly literate pupils are able to use their voice to make a difference and change the world. 

At St. Stephen’s, we believe a high-quality of education in English is vital to 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 high-quality teaching of the national curriculum, we aim to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Reading

“Our goal is to foster such a love for reading in our children that they secretly read under the duvet after lights out…” 

Competition nomination application, Kew Bookshop, 2016.

The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:

  • word reading
  • comprehension (both listening and reading)

In the Early Years and Key Stage 1 at St Stephen’s, phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One.  We use the Letters and Sounds programme to teach children the letters of the alphabet and their matching sounds.  We use the RWI resources (tools and strategies) to support our teaching of phonics. We have tailored our programme to ensure children are given the skills and strategies they need to become independent readers and writers. 

Please click here to see our Phonics Policy.

The following link contains material that will help you to support your children at home when learning phonics. This includes a video that demonstrates the correct pronunciation of each sound. 

https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/reading-owl/phonics-made-easy/

Alongside developing a strong base in phonics, children are taught to read through various means at St Stephens:

Guided Reading - These are small-group teacher-led sessions where children share the same book, appropriate to their reading level. During this time, children are taught the deeper skills of reading and comprehension, such as inference.  They engage in discussion with their peers, share thoughts and ideas, undoubtedly promoting reading for pleasure.  Their skills are continually assessed and work towards personalised targets.

Modelled Reading/shared reading: this occurs when teachers read aloud to children, demonstrating fluency and expression and sharing enjoyment of and interest in the text. Often takes place in subjects other than English. Teachers verbalise the complex process of thought which happens when reading, which a fluent reader takes for granted. 

Core Texts: we carefully choose and plan high quality texts (both visual and digital) core texts as a basis for our English units, linked to a topic, where possible. Here is an example of the core texts we read across the school during the Autumn Term. Insert links for core texts. 

Independent Reading: the focus of independent reading is students taking charge of their own reading – they choose their own texts, read silently and take responsibility to work through any challenges presented by the text. Independent Reading for readers who are unable to accurately read the print is still possible. It could take the form of looking at the pictures and ‘telling the story’ or sitting with a partner and sharing a text.  Independent reading also allows a child to effectively build reading stamina, so they are able to access lengthier passages of text. We use a program called Accelerated Reader to support children in choosing ability-appropriate texts. 

Accelerated Reader (AR): AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Each child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at his/her own pace. When finished, each child takes a short quiz on the computer - passing the quiz is an indication that your child has understood what has been read. AR gives both children and teachers feedback based on the quiz results which the teacher then uses to help the child set targets and ongoing reading practice.

Love of Reading: developing a love of reading is at the core of our English curriculum.  All classes have their own book corners where children can choose books at their leisure. Moreover, we have a well-resourced library, which all classes visit at least once a week. We even have a ‘Reading Shed’ in the playground, so children have a quiet space to read at lunchtime. 

World Book Day: Each year, we take part in World Book Day, which is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate books in a fun way – we often have authors and storytellers visit us at school around this event.

Spoken English at St Stephen’s

In order to support our children to develop their knowledge of Standard English across the whole school day, we insist that children and teachers:

speak in full sentences at all time. For example, there is an expectation that all children speak in full sentences at all times within the classroom setting. 

Use high-level vocabulary when speaking to expose children to as much rich language as possible.

Adults kindly correct children when they use non-standard English in the classroom setting. .

All classes perform a class assembly for the school, providing an opportunity for public speaking from an early age.

Writing

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing

Stimulus for writing

As a school, we are hugely influenced by the work of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), especially calling on their expertise to choose high-quality and highly-engaging texts. 

We encourage children to explore ideas prior to composition through art, drama and role-play, music and movement and small world play, providing opportunities to write independently to develop these ideas into extended pieces.

Children are taught to write through various means:

  • Modelled Writing: This occurs when a teacher writes in front of the class, sharing the thought processes and strategies of an adult writing by speaking aloud as writing takes shape.
  • Shared Writing: helps pupils to see that the writer is in control of the words. Any short, relevant text is written on a large piece of paper or the board by the teacher, who thinks aloud as the text takes shape. The children are active participants in the process, contributing ideas and comments as the writing progresses.
  • Guided Writing: provides the scaffold for pupils to shape and reshape their own piece of writing and is usually carried out in small groups, according to the needs of those pupils at the time.
  • Independent Writing: children have the opportunity to write at length and put the skills they have learned into practice. At St Stephen’s children write at least one piece at length. This can be in any subject area.
  • Edited Writing: there is a strong emphasis on editing as being part of the writing process. All children at St Stephen’s edit work, both before and after feedback, using blue pen.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling are embedded within our English lessons. Where necessary, grammar is taught in discrete sessions.

Purpose for Writing

Our teachers plan carefully to give our children a clear purpose for writing. Where possible, we believe a shared experience (trip, visitor, activity, drama) provides a purpose for writing and will engage the children highly and produce their best writing. Moreover, we find that our links to Global Citizenship drive highly engaging topics, which inspire some of our best writing. 

Handwriting

The children learn handwriting through the Nelson scheme of handwriting. It introduces cursive handwriting in step-by-step stages in line with the National Curriculum.

Assessment

Children’s reading and writing skills are continually assessed and children receive personal targets in these areas, which are updated regularly. 

English Homework

Please see Reading list for suggested, age-appropriate books to read at home. 

See homework policy