Mrs G Jenson - English Coordinator
At Corpus Christi School we have adopted the approach of using literature at the core of English teaching in the primary school.
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.
By placing books at the core, we are allowing teachers to use the text as the context for the requirements of the national curriculum. The national curriculum states that: ‘‘This guidance is not intended to constrain or restrict teachers’ creativity, simply to provide the structure on which they can construct exciting lessons.’ This would suggest that a context for learning is vital – and this is where our chosen approach can support teachers with ensuring that objectives for reading and writing, including those for grammar can have purpose. We will always aim for our writing opportunities to be meaningful; whether short or long and that the audience is clear. Books offer this opportunity: our final aim would be that that children have real reasons to write, whether to explain, persuade, inform or instruct and that where possible, this can be embedded within text or linked to a curriculum area. Writing in role using a range of genres is key to our approach as is writing a critique of the text and making comparisons – all writing skills that will support children in preparation for their time in secondary school. This sits comfortably alongside the following statement from the English national curriculum: ‘The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.’
Phonics and Reading
Throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Nursery and Reception study the Prime Area of Communication and Language, and Specific Area of Literacy as outlined in the 2012 Early Years Curriculum. The children receive daily phonics sessions taught through a combination of Letters and Sounds and the Letterland scheme. From Reception onwards, children practise reading using texts from the Oxford Reading Tree and Big Cat reading schemes and progress their way through the book bands/stages.
In Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Use of the reading schemes continues but children are also encouraged to choose books themselves and to read for pleasure. In Key Stage 2 children are engaged in whole-class reading of high quality, carefully chosen texts.
We encourage performance with drama, assemblies and class talks throughout the year. Reading for pleasure is continually promoted through Book Week, workshops, book fairs, trips, author visits, book swaps and our new school library. In writing, pupils become able to select and adapt what they say and write in different situations and for different audiences. Other aspects of English, such as spelling, handwriting, phonics and guided reading are taught within class and as discrete lessons during the week.
Above all, our aim is to make the exploration of the English language and literature a challenging and exciting experience.