At St Joseph’s, our teaching of English is underpinned by the drive to prepare our pupils for life in this, one of the key areas of the curriculum. Our children are made aware, from the earliest age, of the relevance, audience and purpose of the ground we cover. At all times we seek to promote enjoyment of, and a positive attitude towards, the many facets of this subject.
Our curriculum is guided by national strategies but our teachers enhance these by using their own, and the children’s, innovative ideas to provide a broad and balanced diet for our pupils. Creativity is certainly at the centre of our teaching of the subject and we enjoy inspiring our young writers through many different starting points and experiences.
We are passionate in our belief that to become an effective writer, one must acquire effective speaking and listening skills. To this end, we promote discussion and debate in our classes and foster confidence and creativity still further in weekly ‘Speech and Drama’ lessons with our specialist teacher. The children have many opportunities to perform before an audience via class assemblies and whole school presentations and productions, which are always of a very high standard. Children who wish to extend their dramatic talents still further may take up the opportunity to join our after school drama club and have the option of working towards the highly esteemed, external LAMDA awards.
Our children enjoy exploring the written word through the creative study of the main genres of writing. This they do, not only independently, but also collaboratively, for the ability to participate as a member of a partnership or group is an important life skill. In order to assist our pupils in their acquisition of grammar and punctuation, each child’s abilities are regularly reviewed and appropriate targets are set, to move the child forward.
In reading, the children begin their learning journey with us by being heard to read frequently and individually. As the children’s abilities grow, they move into Guided Reading groups where they will be introduced to a range of notable authors. Throughout, parents are kept regularly informed of their child’s progress and how they may assist at home. We are ever-keen to encourage our children to voice their supported opinions of what they read; just because a teacher or peer admires a certain text or author, it does not mean they have to!
Handwriting is given due emphasis throughout our school, our aim being for our children to develop a flowing, cursive script showing individual style.
Throughout their time with us, the children’s progress in reading, spelling, writing and comprehension is regularly assessed, tracked and expressed in comparison with national expectations. Parents are informed of their child’s attainment and progress in biannual reports and at parental consultation evenings. The children are also kept informed of their progress, emphasising how far they have travelled and how they can continue to improve and better their best. Throughout their time with us, the children are also encouraged to evaluate both their own work and that of others, as they are certainly encouraged to be active participants in the learning process.
Consolidation of skills is also achieved by conscious planning in the other areas of the curriculum.
Book weeks, book sales, book making, blogging, visits to the theatre, book fairs, visits from authors , professional writers and travelling professional companies feature regularly at St Joseph’s and help to enrich the English curriculum still further. Our teachers are always seeking to improve our English curriculum and welcome ideas and suggestions from parents and children to spark a new endeavour.
Mrs Sue Dickins Head of English