Learning to read and developing a lifelong love of books is at the heart of all we do. When children start at St Mary's, they begin a highly structured phonics programme which, not only supports their reading, but also teaches them spelling patterns. Reading is also taught through a Book Band System, and is enhanced by class stories and home reading books for parents to share with their children. As our children become more independent they are taught how to choose books from our extensive collection in the library. Parents are also expected to read with their children every night.
At St. Mary's we have an exciting 'Reading Passport', where each child is challenged to read around a certain area! Oak Class read around Hampshire, Ash read around the British Isles, Lime read around Europe, and Elder read around the world! There are ten locations in each passport, with two books per location. These books are chosen to enable children to experience a breadth of genres and text types, to enhance their reading and writing skills.
Each class also completes Guided Reading, through whole class and small groups, where pupils work on the higher order skills of comprehension, inference and deduction.
Children are taught to write in a variety of styles including prose, poetry and reporting, and to suit different purposes and audiences. We aim to link as much of our writing to our topic work, but also ensure that we complete a unit based on a quality text each term. We emphasise the importance of correct spelling, grammar and punctuation, which are taught as discrete lessons and are incorporated into our writing activities. We have a whole school approach to handwriting where pupils are encouraged to work though the levels to develop a neat, fluent style.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening skills are promoted through drama, discussion groups, storytelling and presentations. Whole school plays, concerts and Sharing Assemblies provide a valuable means of building confidence and developing the ability to listen to others.
Phonics and Spelling
The teaching of spelling at St. Mary’s is responsive and adaptive to children’s needs. We have a flexible approach to teaching coverage of the spelling curriculum, based on our children’s needs. We use various schemes as guidance to support our teaching.
In Oak Class, new phonic sound/s are taught on a Monday in a 1 hour lesson. The sound/ are then consolidated throughout independent learning. We follow Letters and Sounds.
In Ash – Elder, spelling will be taught a minimum of 3 times a week for 20 minutes, although some teachers may be required to teach this daily and have longer lessons for investigative work. Spelling lessons could be a short as 10 minutes, or take as long as an hour. Sometimes children will be taught in small groups, sometimes it will be whole class.
In Oak Class, phonics is taught daily (phonics is the teaching of reading and spelling). Additional coverage of the spelling curriculum in Oak will also be covered throughout the week.