At St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School, we follow the new National Curriculum supported by ‘Grammar for Writing’, ‘Letters and Sounds’, ‘Read Write Inc.’ and ‘Support for Spelling’. Our aim is to promote children’s enjoyment and ability in reading and writing through a language rich environment, using high quality texts and engaging writing opportunities.

The English Curriculum is structured in three areas:

  • The spoken language
  • Reading
  • Writing (including handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar)

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. Our aim is that every child is a competent speaker and listener. Some examples of spoken language are drama, paired work, group discussions, delivering presentations and assemblies.

Reading consists of word recognition and comprehension (both listening and reading). In the Early Years Foundation Stage and in KS1 phonics is taught daily to support the children in developing their reading skills. We follow the ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme for reading. We promote the importance of teaching the skills of decoding and recognising familiar key words whilst also developing good comprehension. All of these elements are essential to the development of confident and able readers.

Every week the children read in guided reading sessions with the class teacher and books are taken home. Parents are kept informed of their child’s progress through a shared record book. This promotes the partnership between home and school in which reading is valued and through which children develop a love for reading.

Writing across the school includes the study of spelling and handwriting (transcription), and composition. The teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) is taught in context with opportunities to apply this learning across the curriculum. Children are encouraged to see writing as a process and we expect them to develop skills in planning, composing, editing and evaluating their writing. We encourage them to be creative in story writing and poetry and they learn to write for different purposes and audiences.

Spelling is an integral part of the English curriculum. We teach spelling based on the ‘Support for Spelling’ programme. We believe that being more fluid in spelling and handwriting enables the writer to focus on compositional skills.

Phonics

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read skilfully and quickly by listening and recognising the sounds in the spoken language and by teaching the skills of blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.

At St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ synthetic phonics programme from the Department of Education guidance along with Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc.’ materials.

Throughout Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 the children receive a daily phonics lesson which lasts for about 20 minutes. As the children progress through the 6 phases of the programme they are introduced to the 44 phonemes of the English language and are taught to read and write words with increasing complexity.

The programme

Phase 1

  • Show an awareness of rhyme and alliteration,
  • Distinguish between sounds in the environment and the phonemes,
  • Explore and experiment with sounds and words,
  • Begin to orally blend and segment phonemes.

Phase 2

  • Common vowels and consonants – s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r h b f ff l ll ss
  • Teaches blending for reading and segmenting for writing of simple CVC words,
  • Teaches children to gain an understanding that words are made up of phonemes and that phonemes are shown in the form of graphemes.

Phase 3

  • The remainder of the alphabet – j y w v x z
  • Consonant diagraphs – two consonants that makes up a single phoneme – sh, ch, th, ng
  • Vowel diagraphs – single phoneme made up of a mixture of vowels and consonants – ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
  • Reading and spelling a wide range of CVC words made up from the phonemes learnt in this phase, eg. r-ai-n; ch-air

Phase 4

  • Review of all the phonemes learnt in previous phases,
  • Segmenting and blending in more detail to ensure children apply this skill during writing and reading of unfamiliar texts,
  • Introduction of syllables for reading.

Phase 5

  • Learn more graphemes and phonemes, for example, they already know ‘ai’ as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ‘ay’ as in day and ‘a-e’ as in make,
  • Using alternative ways of pronouncing and spelling the graphemes corresponding to the long vowel phonemes,
  • Spelling complex words using new phonemes learnt.

New graphemes learnt are:

  • ay, ow, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oa, au, a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e
  • Alternative pronunciations for l, o, c, g, u, y, ch
  • Alternative spellings for ay, ie, ir, ea.

Phase 6

  • Recognising phonic irregularities and becoming more secure with less common grapheme – phoneme correspondence,
  • Applying phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell more complex words,
  • Introducing and teaching the past tense (‘ed’ and irregular words), adding suffixes (-s, -es, -ed, -ing, -est, etc), spelling long words, finding the difficult bits in words.

High Frequency words

As part of the programme children also learn ‘tricky’ words – which they cannot decode but have to learn by sight. There are almost 300 of these words that the children learn over the course of the programme.