“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
- Dr. Seuss.
Reading is a central part of the curriculum at St Mary’s Primary School.
From Nursery to Year 6, reading is given the highest priority at Mary’s as it is vital in order for the children to become independent learners and achieve in all areas of the curriculum. We want children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers, who know the importance of reading as a life-long skill in the wider world.
Reading is taught through a variety of means across the Key Stages
In KS2, reading lessons are taught at least three times each week. The children read a range of fiction and nonfiction texts, focusing on a particular reading assessment focus during each lesson;
In KS1, each class has daily guided reading lessons;
Phonics is taught regularly from Foundation Stage up to Year 3;
English units of work are based around a core text;
Children in KS2 have individual reading journals in which they record their home reading and complete a variety of reading activities;
Reading skills are applied in other subjects such as science, humanities and RE;
Each class enjoys a class novel which is read by the teacher at the end of the day;
Silent reading sessions take place each day where the children and adults can spend some time relaxing with a good book;
Each class has a weekly library session in our school library;
Children enjoy attending poetry club where they practise performing and reading poetry aloud;
Children can attend reading club where a variety of fiction and nonfiction books are read and discussed;
Special reading events such as ‘Book Week’, book character parades, storytelling sessions, visiting authors and poets, and reading competitions are held;
One to one reading takes place with staff and volunteer reader helpers;
Reading is assessed regularly by staff and children are given clear, focused next-steps-for-learning so they know what they need to work on in order to improve.
It is vital that children practise their reading at home by being heard by an adult or older sibling. This is just as important for older children who are decoding texts fluently – they may be able to read the words, but they also need opportunities to discuss the meaning of the texts they are reading as often as possible.
KS2: Children in KS2 should read for at least half an hour at home every day. They record their reading comments in their reading journal and get it signed by an adult to be monitored in school. In addition to this, children are expected to complete a ‘reading-response’ activity each week. This can relate to his/her current reading book or another text. We encourage children to read a wide range of authors and text types which they find in everyday life, as well as books.
Foundation Stage/KS1: Parents should read with their child for about 15 minutes each day. Children will take home a graded reading book based on their reading level. These are selected by a member of staff from our graded reading scheme. Books within this are selected from a range of evaluated series and publishers. Parents should sign the reading journal to inform the teacher about what has been read.
In Key Stage 1, children are also given the opportunity to take home a book of his/her choice. This book may be too difficult for the child to read themselves and is intended to be shared with an adult. Reading to children regularly ensures they understand that reading is a pleasurable process. Children love to listen to stories being read or told. Books should be returned everyday to school so that they can be changed.
At St Mary’s, we believe writing is an essential skill for success in the wider world. Therefore we make our teaching of writing as creative as possible, as well as rigorously teaching the rules of spelling, punctuation, grammar.
Writing is taught as part of an English lesson for one hour each day, but many more opportunities to practise the skills learnt in these lessons are provided across the curriculum. For example, the children may write: diary entries from the point of view of Biblical characters during religious education; non chronological reports describing a country in geography; explanations in science and maths and instructions in Art/Design & Technology. We also try to create many real-life situations for the children to practise writing skills. For instance, application letters for prefect roles, thank you cards to visitors or emails to children in other schools. In addition to the English lesson, grammar, and punctuation are regularly taught as separate lessons throughout the week.
At St Mary’s, writing lessons are taught following Mark Hartley’s hugely successful process called ‘The Art of Teaching Writing’.
Core texts are carefully selected by the teachers and senior leadership team to ensure they are of the highest quality and pitched at the correct level for the children. These texts are used as stimuli for both fiction and non-fiction writing.
Children are provided with speaking and listening, and drama activities so they can rehearse using the key language and sentence features of the text orally. These activities are also designed to deepen their understanding of the text.
A high quality model of the final written outcome (based on the core text and written by the teacher) is read and analysed. These models introduce pupils to more sophisticated vocabulary and more complex language constructions, as well as teaching pupils about key elements of punctuation.
The children write their own pieces using the ‘chunking’ method. In this approach, writing is undertaken in sections and is broken down into a series of manageable steps. In addition, there is scope for editing writing in sections and frequent opportunities for critical reflection.
Writing outcomes are regularly published, often alongside art work, in order to celebrate the children’s work. These are displayed in books, classrooms or around the school.
Everybody Writes Day is a celebration of writing in schools where children can celebrate writing in all its forms. At St Mary’s, a particular theme is chosen, around which the children base their writing. This year, we decided to link our writing with the geography curriculum and created the theme: ‘Around the World’.
Each class chose a country to study and then created fantastic pieces of writing. For example, comic strips retelling famous Irish myths and legends; instructions on how to make A “Wau Bulan” Malaysian Moon Kite or Anzac biscuits; travel brochures about Peru or letters home from an explorer visiting Antarctica!
The children of St Mary’s then had the opportunity to show off their incredible writing at assembly and also at our annual International evening.
Spelling is taught daily in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 as part of phonics lessons. It continues to be taught frequently in Key Stage 2. Spelling rules and patterns are investigated, taught and practised alongside with ‘exception words’ (words which are exceptions to a specific rule or pattern). Common words and a range of strategies that can be used to practise spellings are also taught. Lists of words that fit a particular pattern or rule learnt in class that week are sent home week for children to learn. We also have a number of spelling/phonic interventions in place to support children who find spelling challenging.
At Mary’s, we believe it is important to support children to develop neat and consistent handwriting. We want to help children with layout, presentation and the way they organise themselves on paper. If success is achieved here, they have pride in their written work, tend to be better at spelling and are more motivated to write. Handwriting and good presentation has a high focus in our school. Teaching staff have consistently high expectations of handwriting and presentation across all subjects and encourage children to apply handwriting skills taught across the curriculum.
The orchard book of magical tales
How to live forever
Children of Lir
The seven Chinese brothers
Chris van Allsberg books
Shakespeare’s plays e.g. Romeo and Juliet
The mouse hole cat
Ishtar and Tammuz
The village that vanished
Bill’s new frock
Aladdin (Visual literacy)
The shrinking of treehorn
The orchard book of Roman myths
The thieves of Ostia
The Julian stories
The boy in the dress
The snow queen
The wreck of Zanzibar
Mufaro’s beautiful daughter
The tale of Despereaux
The whale song
The selfish giant
Finding Nemo (Visual literacy)
The gentle giant
The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane
The butterfly lion
There’s a boy in the girl’s bathroom
The firework maker’s daughter
Just a dream
The silver sword
The Iron man
Sir Gawain and the green knight
Sir Gawain and the loathly lady
A Christmas Carol
Journey to Jo’Burg
The little prince
The Iron woman
The Highway man
The Hunger Games
The Wedding ghost
Goodnight Mister Tom
What happened to Lulu?