At St. Bonaventure’s, we believe that English underpins our children’s development and in turn their access to all aspects of our curriculum. We aim to deliver high quality teaching of reading, writing and oracy (speaking & listening) in order to enable all our children to become independent and successful readers and writers, who can communicate meaningfully and effectively with others. We want our children to have the best experiences of English at St. Bonaventure’s, one which will endeavour to develop, support and enhance their learning journey throughout their school life and beyond. Above all, at St. Bonaventure’s we want our children to experience a rich and creative English learning journey, one which will provide a thirst and excitement for both reading and writing.
Reading is at the heart of learning at St Bonaventure’s and we aim to inspire children’s learning through the use of high-quality texts across the curriculum. We encourage all children to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction texts, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, to gain knowledge across the curriculum and wider knowledge of themselves and the world they live in. We aspire for our children to develop a passion for reading and use their reading skills to support and enhance their writing development. Throughout the school week, children are immersed in high quality texts which endeavour to support our children in becoming fluent, competent and confident readers.
Children begin their reading journey in Reception by following a systematic, synthetic phonics programme which teaches them the initial sounds (and corresponding graphemes) they need to know to be able to begin reading. This programme continues throughout Reception and in to year 1 with the emphasis lying on developing the skills of segmenting and blending in order to become fluent readers. As children progress in to year 2 and beyond, reading becomes more focused on comprehension skills and children being able to understand what they have read. We follow the acronym ‘VIPERS’ which helps the children remember the key reading skills: vocabulary, inference, predication, explanation, retrieval and sequencing/ summarising.
We believe that to foster a love and passion for reading, the relationship that children have with books and reading at school must also continue outside of school. Ideally, the books that the children receive from school are the minimum amount they should be reading. We actively encourage trips to the library with parents, so that children can choose their own books. We also have a wonderful selection of books in our school library, which children can self-select and bring home to share. Parents are given information about how much reading should be done at home for each year group during the Parent Information Evenings at the beginning of the academic year.
Through our shared love of reading at St Bonaventure’s and our promotion of high-quality texts, our aspiration for all children is that they will:
- enjoy reading a wide variety of texts
- have an extensive vocabulary that they use within their speaking and writing
- make measurable progress from their individual starting point in reading
- be able to confidently talk about books they’ve read and why they have enjoyed them
- have a love and passion for reading!
At St. Bonaventure’s we encourage “Wonderful Writing!” We want our children to become fluent, creative and successful independent writers who have a thirst for writing. We provide the children with many opportunities for writing, especially through our whole school curriculum themed approach. In line with the National Curriculum, emphasis is placed on transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them cohesively). We teach children how to plan, edit and improve their writing. We instil a strong sense of ‘authorship’ in the children so that when they write, they think carefully about how their writing affects the reader. This supports the emphasis we put on the relationship between reading and writing through our ‘Power of Reading’ inspired teaching approach.
Through our creative teaching, using high-quality texts, opportunities for our pupils to enhance their vocabulary arise naturally from their reading. We encourage discussion of words and their meaning throughout our curriculum so that the children can apply these within their writing. We encourage this through ‘magpie-ing’ which is a technique taken from Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing. This ensures that the link between reading and writing is continually emphasised. We believe that spoken language (oracy) underpins the development of writing. We use a range of teaching techniques inspired by ‘The Power of Reading’ to encourage all our children to be active speakers and listeners and give them opportunities to prepare their ideas before they write. Our creative practice encourages children to take part in drama, role play and performance within the classroom.
All classrooms have an English working wall which showcases the English learning journey towards creating a piece of writing. From years 1-6, this supports children with understanding the steps towards creating their final written outcome and for Reception children it celebrates their learning outcomes throughout the text. We endeavour to weave SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) in to each English learning sequence so that children are provided with a model of the SPAG expectations for each piece of writing. It is then the expectation that children will be able to apply the relevant SPAG features within their own writing.
In Reception, children follow a systematic, synthetic phonics programme which supports their emerging writing. This continues in to year 1 where children develop their phonological awareness and application of phonics within their writing. From year 2 and beyond, emphasis shifts to formal spelling rules and the application of these within writing. We actively encourage children to practice and learn spellings through a creative approach, which we kindly ask parents to support at home. Information on spelling requirements for each year group is shared during the parent information sessions at the beginning of the academic year.
We take pride in our presentation at St Bonaventure’s and have high expectations of all written outcomes, willing our children to reach their full potential. As part of our ambitious expectations, great importance is given to handwriting. We follow the Nelson handwriting scheme which supports children in moving from printed to joined letter formation. It is our aspiration that children will have a joined, neat, legible handwriting style by the time they leave us. Pen licenses are presented to children from year 3 and beyond, providing a real incentive for children to improve their own handwriting.
Through our creative, text-based approach to writing at St Bonaventure’s, our aspiration for all children for all children is that they will:
- enjoy writing across a range of genres and for a range of audiences and purposes
- succeed in all English lessons because work is appropriately scaffolded
- have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience
- are able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught
- make measurable progress from their individual starting point in writing
- be confident, fluent writers with a love of writing!