Vision for English at St Stephen’s
A high-quality English education at St Stephen’s will teach pupils to speak, read and write fluently; our highly literate pupils are encouraged to use their voices to make a difference and change the world. Through an informed choice of media, pupils develop spiritually, culturally, emotionally, intellectually and socially . Children are enabled to think critically about world issues and develop an informed opinion. Reading enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know, providing a source of enjoyment for their well-being. By unlocking the skills of literacy, children access all areas of the rich curriculum and the wider world.
At St. Stephen’s, we believe a high-quality 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.
Please click here for our National Curriculum Overviews by year:
- Year 1 English Overview
- Year 2 English Overview
- Year 3 & 4 English Overview
- Year 5 & 6 English Overview
“Our goal is to foster such a love for reading in our children that they secretly read under the duvet after lights out…”
The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading)
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds - our systematic and synthetic phonics programme
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 teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
Please click here to see our Phonics and Early Reading Policy.
The following link contains material that will help you to support your children at home when learning phonics and early reading. This includes videos that demonstrate the correct pronunciation of each sound.
Reading at home
Reading at home is a vital part of the learning process for all children. All children will take home 2 books each week:
- A reading practice book - carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy - your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading.
- Sharing Book - In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to them or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!
Alongside developing a strong base in phonics, children are taught to read through various means at St Stephens:
Guided Reading - (R-Y2) 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.. 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.
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. All classes have book corners to provide a calm space for choosing books. 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 from Year 2-6. 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 (at home or school) - 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.
- Library we have a well-resourced library, which all classes visit at least once a week.
- Sora ebooks - all children have a Sora e-book login, with which they can access hundreds of engaging books at their reading level.
- 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 in March, 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 times. 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 and gently 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.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed as follows:
- 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.
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.
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.
At St Stephen’s, we use the CUSP Spelling programme from the end of Year 1 to Year 6. This programme has been purposefully built around the principles of evidence-led practice. This is to ensure that pupils acquire deep knowledge about the English spelling system and that this learning endures. The curriculum is written cumulatively to allow teachers to move backwards and forwards depending on the starting points for their pupils. CUSP Spelling is a balanced approach, drawing together knowledge about phonics and vocabulary and pairing this with pattern seeking and reasoning.
We do not give our children a list of spellings per week to learn by heart as we find that this is ineffective at helping the children to learn the words long-term. Instead, homework will focus on spelling concepts so children gain a deeper knowledge of the words. We will monitor each child's progress in spelling in their independent writing.
From Year 1 at St Stephen’s children are taught cursive script.
Please click here to see A-Z Letter Formation Activity Sheets Continuous Cursive.
Please click here (or on the left-hand menu) to see further information and help relating to Cursive Writing at St. Stephen's.
Children’s reading and writing skills are continually assessed and children receive personal targets in these areas, which are updated regularly.
Please see the Booktrust Bookfinder - reading list for suggested, age-appropriate books to read at home.