At St. Mary’s CofE Primary School, we aim to foster a love of reading and are aware of the importance it plays in children’s cultural, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development. Children are encouraged to discover the value of strong communication and the importance of Reading and Writing in all aspects of their futures.
‘So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky’
Our English curriculum is based around carefully chosen, high quality fiction and non-fiction texts (please refer to our Curriculum Maps). They represent a wide range of genres, time periods and cultures and cover a variety of topics. For example, Year 4 study ‘Gregory Cool’, by Caroline Binch, which is about family relationships set in Tobago; Year 5 study ‘Journey to Jo’burg’, by Beverley Naidoo, set in South Africa during apartheid. Children’s writing, as a product of their immersion in texts, is proudly displayed around the school.
We demonstrate to children that reading enables us to acquire knowledge and to build on what we already know. Staff also model reading for enjoyment, through discussing what they love to read and why. This is reflected in the school environment, with photos of staff sharing their most loved books.
Across the school, children are encouraged to challenge and discuss their ideas with each other, building on their ability to communicate their thoughts clearly and justify their opinions.
Reading is taught through daily reading opportunities, such as whole-class shared reading, carefully taught reading comprehension activities and guided reading sessions, where the children work in a group with the teacher, teaching assistant or other children in their group. Skills of decoding, inference and deduction are taught, which children can apply to any genre of text.
Stories are often shared at our school and all children visit the school library for an opportunity to browse and choose books to borrow. Our school librarian also runs a popular book club at lunchtime. We celebrate World Book Day every year and enjoy browsing and buying books at our annual book fair. Click to view our World Book Day Virtual Library that we set up during Lockdown in March 2021, which features recordings of members of staff sharing their favourite texts!
During the Lockdown in January 2021, we provided opportunities for children to access reading books from school and we also launched our own St Mary’s Virtual Library to enable children to enjoy books while libraries were closed and school was not open to all children.
In Reception and KS1, we use the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme. We use Accelerated Reader in Years 2 – 6, which is a computerised program that helps teachers to assess their pupils’ reading comprehension and helps pupils to select books based on their reading level.
The teaching and learning of phonics enables children to identify which sounds are made by which letters or groups of letters, and how these join to form words. It is a key tool in children being able to read independently. The teaching of phonics begins with recognising different sounds. Daily phonics sessions continue throughout Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, and into Year 3 for those children who need it. We use the Letters and Sounds scheme as a basis for our teaching.
All KS2 classes have an annual Shakespeare text focus in the Autumn term. The children have an opportunity to participate in a theatre workshop at school which supports their comprehension and vocabulary development of Shakespearean language before they begin their unit of work.
By the time the children leave St. Mary’s, they will have studied 4 Shakespearean texts, participated in 4 workshops led by the Young Shakespeare Company and seen 4 live theatre productions of the plays at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar.
The children have a number of immersive experiences to help develop their love for words and stories:
Y1 enjoying tea with The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
KS2 re-enacting scenes from Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky
KS1 exploring the story of the Owl and Pussy Cat by Edward Lear