We are Companions on a Journey
At St Columba's school, the foundations for teaching the National Curriculum English are begun in Early Years Foundation Stage, with the development of a high quality programme planned within Communication, Language and Literacy.
The teaching of English at KS1 and 2 is underpinned by the expectations and programme of study set out by the DfE's National Curriculum (2014):
Purpose of Study
A high-quality education in English will 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 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 and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society.
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.
The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
We plan our English curriculum based on the objectives as laid out in the National Curriculum document.
For more detailed information about the English curriculum at St. Columba's, please read our
English Curriculum statement.
Early Reading and Phonics at St Columba's
At St Columba’s we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.
Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.
We can achieve this together through:
At St Columba’s we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their literacy. We have put together a guide to how the RWI programme works together with some useful links.
Mrs Hewson is our Read Write Inc lead teacher, so if you have questions about RWI, contact school who can refer you to her. Please take the time to read the information as it will provide invaluable information as to how you can help and support your child in reading.
What is Read Write Inc?
Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. However, at St Columba's we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.
RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at
How will RWI be taught?
All children are assessed regularly by our RWI lead teacher so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.
When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five minutes sessions.
In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.
Year One and Year Two
Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for forty - five minutes. As well as daily phonics, children will have English lessons which will allow them to embed their early reading skills learned through phonics and also help to develop further their writing, spelling and handwriting skills.
Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:
Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about
Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning
Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability
Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning
Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally
Children will be taught how to read as follows:
Before you start to teach your child, practise saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English.
We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.
At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.
The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred.
The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.
Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.
The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels. When they are very confident with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.
Nonsense words (Alien words)
As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.
Within all the books children will have red and green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.
Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes.
Once your child has been introduced and taught these words in school we will send them home for you to continue practising with your child. These will be put into their reading record.
During the RWI session children will read the book three times and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills. You may have heard your child talking about ‘hold, build a sentence’ or 'proof read'.
Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.
Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar.
Proof read allows children to check for mistakes within a sentence and correct as necessary.
Order of Story books:
Children will hopefully follow the order listed below. The expectation is that all children will leave Year One as confident speedy readers, ready to take on the challenges of Year Two. However, some children may need extra support and your teacher will talk to you about this.
Red Ditty 1 - 10
Green 1- 10
Purple 1 – 10
Pink 1 – 10
Orange 1 - 12
Yellow 1 – 10
Blue 1 – 10
Grey 1 – 10
To help at home:
Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers. Please help them to read and give lots of praise!
If you have any other questions about RWI, please see your class teacher or see Mrs Hewson.
Phonics Screening Check Year One
What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?
The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.
It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.
Further information will follow in the new year.
Reading information for parents
Reading Information For Parents
Your child's reading experience is much more than the reading book which comes home from school. Reading is happening all the time in a classroom and in the school. It is taught in specific reading and English lessons, but children are practising and using their 'reading' constantly across all subjects too.
Parents can support this 'reading journey' through regular reading at home. Reading to and with your child every evening for at least ten minutes can make a dramatic difference to a child's achievement within school. A report from the Oxford University Press highlighted the importance of parents reading with their children. 'Children who read outside of class are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age'.
We use a variety of books in school, they are based on Read, Write Inc books in EYFS and KS1. In KS2 we use a variety of books including Fireflies, Project X and Treetops. Children also have a reading book, which they are encouraged to read for pleasure and these can be either fiction or non fiction.
The report from Oxford University Press also offers six tips for reading with your child at home, including:
1. Make time to read- even ten minutes a day
2. Choose different types of books
3. Take turns to read
4. Talk about the book- asking your child questions
5. Pay attention to the language
6. Enjoy reading
In order to support parents we have created bookmarks with questions and ideas you can talk about with your child. These are also found in your child's reading diary.
Reading Progression Document
St Columba's Literature Spine
As a school, we have written our own Literature Spine. This sets outs books per year group ( a mixture of fiction and some poetry) that are to be read and enjoyed!
Some of these book shave been chosen to be used as whole class texts, some for shared and guided reading and some for independent reading. They have also been chosen to represent some of the latest and best releases, as well as representing some genres and authors that our children may not necessarily choose to read of their own accord.
Reading for Pleasure
At St Columba's we want to encourage all of our children to have a love of reading.
We believe that reading should be a fundamental part of childhood and a skill which should be developed to support lifelong learning.
Our aim is to develop and embed a strong, sustainable reading culture within the school community. Confident and competent readers will foster a love of reading through a rich and varied experience of texts, in which they are empowered to exercise freedoms of choice and independence.
For further information, see our Reading for Pleasure policy.
St Columba's reading policy
Regular daily reading matters:
Please register online for the free e – book library available at Oxford Owl: https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page/
Other recommended sites for free e – books include:
Book in a Jar Competition
We are running a ‘Book in a Jar’ competition to celebrate World Book Day 2020. Children are invited to think about a how a favourite book could be represented in a simple jar.
Any clear jar can be used, a coffee jar, jam jar or other. You can put carefully chosen items to represent your book into your jar, selected quotes from your book, perhaps even clues about its characters or setting.
Please make sure that any ‘Book in a jar’ competition entries are clearly labelled with the book that is being represented, your child’s full name and year group.
All entries must be in school on the morning of Wednesday 4st March for judging. Winners will be announced on Thursday 5nd March and the jars will be available for viewing by the whole school as part of our World Book Day celebrations.
Mrs Hewson's Recommended Reads for November
Nursery: “ Bears Don’t eat Egg Sandwiches,” by Julie Fulton
Reception: “Oi Frog,” by Kes Gray and Jim Field
Year 1: “Dogger,” by Shirley Hughes
Year 2: “The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark,” by Jill Tomlinson
Year 3: “Harry the Poisonous Centipede: A Story to Make You Squirm,” by Lynne Reid Banks
Year 4: “The Accidental Prime – Minister,” by Tom McLaughlin
Year 5: “The Goldfish Boy,” by Lisa Thompson
Year 6: “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, “by Judith Kerr
Spoken Language and Vocabulary
At St Columba's, we develop pupils' spoken language using the principles outlined in the DfE's National Curriculum (2014).
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.
Teachers will therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils should develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others, and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils will also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.
All pupils will participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils will be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They will have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.
Statutory requirements which underpin all aspects of spoken language across the 6 years of primary education form part of the national curriculum. These are reflected and contextualised within the reading and writing domains.
Pupils should be taught to:
For further information, see our Spoken Language and Vocabulary Policy.
At St Columba's, we use the DfE's programme of study for English (2014) to underpin our teaching of Writing across KS1 and 2.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these 2 dimensions.
In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.
Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
Writing Progression Document Year 1- Year 3
Writing Progression Document Year 4 - Year 6
SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar)
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar was part of the government's new focus since the introduction of the revised 2014 National Curriculum.
Children are taught specific skills in these three areas, across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. They are formally tested on them in the SATs (standard assessment tests) at the end of Year 6.
Opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, teachers will show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. They will also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than 1 meaning. References to developing pupils’ vocabulary are also included below.
Pupils should be taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English. They should be taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation and ‘language about language’ listed.
A glossary is provided below of some of the aspects that they will meet.
Throughout the programmes of study, teachers will teach pupils the vocabulary they need to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language. It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.
Links below on spelling and on vocabulary, grammar and punctuation – give an overview of the specific features that should be included in teaching the programmes of study.
Below find common exception work lists that children should both confidently read and spell.
In line with the Primary Curriculum statutory expectations, children must be taught to write with ease, speed and legibility. It is important that the child’s handwriting becomes a skill that ultimately requires little effort and thought so that creative and physical energy can be focused on the content of writing rather than upon the act.
The style is intended to be relatively quick and easy to learn, particularly when it is practised from an early stage. Pupils will learn to form individual letters appropriately and accurately first, and then during Year 1, will learn to join letters.
The style is an all-joined style with two main joins - a diagonal join which starts with the pencil point on the writing line and a washing line join which connects two lowercase letters together from the top. The descenders of letters g, j and y go straight down through the writing line with a loop and continue to form the beginning of the diagonal join to the following letter
The joins are very important for spacing letters evenly and learners need to understand that there must be a clear ‘join’ between all the letter shapes. Learners are taught to think carefully about which part of each letter is the letter shape and which part of the letter is the join. At first, all lower case letters are taught as discrete (separate) shapes starting with the pencil point ‘on the [writing] line’ to form the diagonal lead-in stroke or leader.
EYFS: Children will be taught to use the print version of all letters; taught in the same order as letters learned during RWI phonics.
m a s d t I n p g o c k u b f e l h r j v y w z x
From Year 1 onwards, the scheme of work we use to base our teaching of handwriting on is Letter Join.
Yr1: Children will be taught to use the unjoined cursive version of all letters taught
c a d g q o s f r n m p b h k i l t u j y v w z x e
Children will then be taught to join in cursive, using diagonal and washing line joins in the Summer term
Yr2 – 6: Children will use the fully joined cursive style in all writing in all books.
c a d g q o s f r n m p b h k i l t u j y v w z x e
For further information, see the Handwriting policy below.
Writing information for parents
Children can find writing a real challenge. They need encouragement, support and praise for their efforts. You can best support your child by: