The English national curriculum (2014) states that:
‘The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.’
We believe the exposure of children’s literature within the primary school setting is vital as a rich context for learning; not only within English as a subject but to support building a reading culture throughout the school. We aim to use high quality books that offer opportunities for empathy and can aid philosophical enquiry, as a means of developing the spoken language requirements through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text. We aim to create a community of avid readers who read fluently and widely and are able to express preferences and opinions about the texts that they read. We intend to develop a culture by which our pupils read for pleasure, having had access to a wide range of text types, genres and authors in order for them to make informed opinions about their favourites. We want our children to write with confidence and accuracy for a variety of purposes and audiences whilst developing their own imagination and creativity. We want our children to be able to write with grammatical accuracy and be able to apply spelling patterns correctly. Poetry units are woven throughout each year group to allow all children to develop a love of poetry as they move through school. We aim to expose our children to a wide range of vocabulary so that they are able to decipher new words and then use them when speaking both informally and formally. By equipping our pupils with these skills, we aim to empower them to become confident and highly literate members of society who can read, write and communicate effectively, and can grow and flourish as individuals in our ever-changing world.
Books are such powerful and wonderful tools which harness so many opportunities. Not only do they offer a wealth of information, experience and knowledge; they also provide opportunities to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. High quality texts can improve comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, speaking, listening, and writing. They offer so many benefits, and it is because of these benefits that St Stephen’s C.E. Primary School have adopted a completely book-based approach to the teaching of English and have placed it at the very heart of our curriculum.
The pupils at St Stephen’s C.E. Primary School are taught English writing through the Literary Curriculum. The Literary Curriculum, designed by the Literacy Tree, is a book-based approach to the teaching of Primary English that places children’s literature at the core.
The Literary Curriculum immerses children in a literary world through the planning sequences (for writing), creating strong levels of engagement to provide meaningful and authentic contexts for primary English. Children become critical readers and acquire an authorial style as they encounter a wide-range of authors and a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
To ensure this curriculum is embedded throughout the school, pupils receive a Literary Curriculum English lesson as well as a whole class reading lesson every day. Each half term focusses on a different book, with links made to the wider curriculum where possible to allow pupils to explore the theme in as much depth and breadth as possible.
We follow a spiral approach to learning which allows pupils to learn and revisit the different strands of the National Curriculum several times throughout each year. This spiral approach to learning provides complete coverage of all National Curriculum expectations for writing composition, reading comprehension, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary, as well as coverage of spelling and phonics – all in context.
Each year group is allocated three types of poetry to study, explore, comment on, create and perform throughout the year. These are either free verse, visual and/or structured poems. Each year group are allocated a range of ‘famous’ or ‘classic’ poems that children have the opportunity to read aloud, discuss and perform off by heart (to an audience where possible) throughout the year. Teachers select at least 2 of these poems and allow the class to spend time reciting them off by heart for the purpose of performing.
Pupils have access to a diverse range of books in their classroom reading areas, which they can read in school. Reading areas in classrooms promote high quality texts that often link to the theme being studied.
Our children will grow into competent, fluent readers who can recommend books and authors to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. They will also read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects in the curriculum.
By the end of their time at St Stephen’s C. E. Primary, children will be able to write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Our pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. Most importantly, they will develop a love of writing and be well equipped for the rest of their education. By equipping our pupils with these skills, our pupil’s will be empowered to become confident and highly literate members of society who can read, write and communicate effectively, and can grow and flourish as individuals in our ever-changing world.