At St John Vianney, our English Curriculum is designed around using high-quality novels which are linked to topic themes and children’s interests. We believe that all children are entitled to a broad and balanced English curriculum, which is delivered in a way which recognises the varied needs of our children and allows each individual to maximise their learning potential; preparing them for the application of English skills across the whole curriculum and life beyond primary education. Our transition to a novel-based English curriculum has allowed us to ensure that we continue to promote a love of reading, alongside explicitly teaching Reading, Writing and Grammar objectives in line with National Curriculum objectives. Oracy is at the heart of out teaching and learning approaches and we are striving to teach our children how to talk and communicate effectively and articulately. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, captured through a range of texts and modelled with high quality talk from adults in school. We believe we encourage our children, of all ages to become readers and writers, to embrace opportunities in a range of contexts with confidence and enthusiasm.
Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode (read) words. We start by teaching children to read and blend the first thirty Set 1 sounds. Once they have conquered this skill, they start reading stories and texts that have words made up of the sounds they know. This means that they can embed and apply their phonic knowledge and start to build their reading fluency. Once secure, children learn Set 2 and Set 3 sounds and then read texts with increasingly more complex sounds and graphemes. Throughout this process there is a focus on comprehension, reading with expression and reading for enjoyment.
Children are taught in small groups which reflect their phonic knowledge and reading fluency. We regularly assess children so that they are taught in a RWI group which matches their phonic knowledge. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’; so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers.
The use of a synthetic phonics programme gives children a flying start with their reading, writing and spelling. It is an effective tool to ensure children ‘keep-up’ rather than ‘catch-up.’ The development of children’s phonic knowledge is embedded to also support a child’s writing skills. With regular assessments, we ensure we meet the needs of all pupils. The progress of each child is closely monitored and tracked and parents/carers are regularly updated in regards to their child’s learning. This results in a high percentage of children meeting or exceeding the Early Learning Goal for Reading at the end of Reception and the Phonic Screening Check in Year One. We are proud to say that every child at St John Vianney can read.