At English Martyrs, our intent is to equip all pupils with skills, enthusiasm and determination to achieve their full potential. We aim to foster a life-long love of learning in order to prepare our pupils for the future. We have aspirations for our pupils and want them to have high aspirations for themselves. Education is a life chance with communication and language providing foundations for learning, thinking and well-being. Evidence indicates that success in literacy relies on the secure development of language and these skills are amongst the best predictors of educational success (Educational Endowment Foundation, 2020).
We provide a carefully planned and progressive curriculum which is enjoyable, purposeful and meaningful. As a result of this, when our pupils leave school, they are equipped to meet the challenges and demands throughout the next phase of their learning journey. Successful language takes place when reading, writing, speaking and listening are integrated in a supportive and stimulating environment in which independent and reflective and critical thinking is fostered.We use Pathways to Read and Pathways to Write to ensure a progressive whole-school approach to the teaching of English: a “proven methodology which develops vocabulary, reading and writing skills through a mastery approach.” – The Literacy Company. Using a mastery approach for both reading and writing allows for a greater development of vocabulary and spelling.
At English Martyrs, we follow a mastery approach to deliver the National Curriculum for English with the Education Endowment Foundation research at the heart of this. All elements of spoken language, writing, spelling and grammar, and comprehension are interlinked through the use of high-quality texts and engaging activities.
Children learn about the purpose, structure and language features of a variety of writing genres. The teaching of writing and use of compositional skills are grounded in a rich experience of reading and reflecting on quality written texts. The texts are often used as models for writing. When appropriate, cross-curricular links are made.
Children are given regular opportunities for telling, retelling and refining texts as a preparation for writing. We encourage the process of planning, saying, writing, checking and editing writing.
Planned teaching sequences include shared, guided and independent writing. We prepare children for the transition from shared to independent writing by use of teacher demonstrations – ‘modelling’ writing, teacher scribing and supported composition. Extended writing opportunities are planned for across the curriculum. This encourages the children to be creative and flexible with their writing skills, applying what has previously been taught.
Pathways to Write – The Sequence
- The Gateway is begins with a ‘hook’ session to intrigue and enthuse young writers
- Pupils are given the opportunity to predict
- The purpose and audience of the text is established
- Revisit previous mastery skills and ongoing skills through an assessed piece of writing
- New writing skills are introduced from the year group’s curriculum, these are called mastery keys and these are displayed in the classroom.
- Writing opportunities are provided to practise and apply the skills taught. This is through short and extended writing tasks, including character descriptions, poetry, dialogue between characters, fact files or diary entries in role.
- Opportunities are provided to re-cap and apply previously taught skills.
- There are opportunities to challenge greater depth writers through a wider range of tasks e.g. changes to form, viewpoint and audience.
- Pupils section and sequence texts, this can be independently or collaboratively.
- They create extended pieces of writing.
- Opportunity is given to apply mastery skills.
- Time is given for planning, writing, checking, editing, redrafting and publishing.
- A fiction or non-fiction outcome will be written (covering a wide range of genres and themes over the year).
At English Martyrs, we use Pathways to Read from Year 1 to Year 6 for guided reading sessions, along with other guided reading materials. This ensures reading objectives are progressive across the school, and there is an emphasis on inference skills. Children have regular guided reading sessions, where they have the opportunity to respond to questions about the texts both written and orally. The lessons may also be used to model how to read aloud clearly, with intonation, expression and awareness of an audience. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Read approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary. Throughout the week there are daily phonics lessons for Foundation Stage and KS1 children and any children in KS2 that need continued phonics support. We use Read, Write Inc as our phonics scheme. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach. To enable this to take place we use Read Write Inc. phonics. This programme teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension.
Throughout school, pupils are encouraged to take control of their reading, reflect on their reading and be aware of strategies for reading. We use many strategies to enable this:
- Reading to our pupils every day and sharing our enjoyment of reading.
- Exposing our pupils to a variety of high-quality fiction and non-fiction material.
- Creating a supportive language environment where pupils experience reading as a rewarding encounter and positive attitudes are modelled and promoted.
- Explicit teaching and adult modelling of a range of strategies to gain meaning from texts.
- Progress is monitored and used to inform next steps for learning.
Reading for Pleasure
At English Martyrs, we believe that reading for pleasure gives children the opportunity to use their imagination to explore new ideas, visit new places and meet new characters. We also believe that it helps to improve children’s well-being and empathy. It enables children to understand their own identity, and gives them an insight into the world and the views of others. We expose children to texts which continually develop their breadth of vocabulary. We explore words, phrases and sentences to unpick how and why they have been used. Children are able to use the class book corners which are available in all classrooms. Reading Champions also have reading books available to read during play-times and lunch-times. All teachers also read to the children at the end of the day.
Along with teaching of reading and reading for pleasure, we also provide as many opportunities as possible to enrich our children’s reading experiences – e.g. World Book Day, parent workshops, parents ‘Come and Read’ parent and child sessions, Bootle Reading Festival, whole-class texts and Reading Ambassadors in year groups (Y2-Y6).
Speaking and Listening
The foundations of literacy are laid in the years before our pupils come to school. At English Martyrs, we build on pupils’ existing knowledge and extend the natural learning process. Our pupils come to school having learned to talk. We provide context for learning that will enable them to develop control over language and enjoy using it so that they can interact effectively in a literate society. We use a variety of strategies to encourage speaking and listening across all curriculum subjects:
- Provide enrichment activities to stimulate interest and extend pupils’ vocabulary.
- DIsplay vocabulary related to the current book/theme on class working walls.
- Expose pupils to high-quality texts with a rich and varied content in order to model language.
- Ensure all literacy activities are rooted in oral language.
- Staff acting as a model to develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills.
- Engage pupils in a variety of talk to share and extend their thought processes.
- Identify pupils who experience difficulties with their receptive and/or expressive language and targeting them for further specialist assessment with carefully matched intervention put in place.
Through implementing the above, we aim for all children to achieve age related expectations while demonstrating a love of English which will continue through life. We want our pupils to be able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject to prepare them for their forthcoming secondary education. We also aim for our pupils to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage, write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of purposes and audiences and being enthused and proud of their work.