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 narrative, poetry, persuasion, reporting and more, 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 follow Jane Considine's The Write Stuff approach to writing, where the children explore high level, rich vocabulary and are taught grammar in context through different writing lenses on the Writing Rainbow (see below). We have a whole school approach to handwriting where pupils are encouraged to work though the levels to develop a neat, fluent style.
The Writing Approach at St Mary's (PowerPoint slides and lenses)
Letter from Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards regarding writing
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 daily (phonics is the teaching of reading and spelling). The sound/s are then consolidated throughout independent learning and reading and writing lessons. We follow Letters and Sounds. In addition to this, Oak Class have one spelling lesson per week on a Monday where they focus on Common Exception Words or spelling rules.
In Ash – Elder, a weekly, investigative, lesson is taught where children explore the different rules of spellings. These are taught in a range of ways to ensure children can apply the different spelling rules to unknown words. Consolidation of the rule happens across the week in short bursts to ensure retention. 3-4 spelling from the statutory word lists are also focused on each week, with children and teachers discussing the 'tricky' bits and creating different ways to help them remember these, for example mnemonics and illustrations. The statutory words are tested each half term.
Below are the spelling lists for each year group
Our library is a welcoming and warm environment, whether you are completing work, or simply want to curl up with a favourite book - this is the place for you!
We will be continuing to increase our non-fiction texts and adding more high-quality fiction books throughout the year.
We have a beautiful mural in our library too - how many different book characters can you find?!