Our school is one family, united in love and deeply rooted in our Christian values, where together on life’s journey we flourish, striving for excellence in all that we do. Inspired by the transformation of St Paul, and enlightened by the glory of God, we will shine like stars to make the world a better place.
Our Curriculum Drivers
Our three curriculum drivers, Growth, Spirituality and Possibility shape our curriculum breadth. They are used to ensure we give our children appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.
Phonics and Reading
At St Paul’s, we believe that the teaching and learning of phonics is crucial to enabling children to read and spell. Having a strong knowledge of phonemes and correlating graphemes provides children with a core foundation upon which they can develop their skills in reading and spelling as they move up through the school.
We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021. We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.Link to Phase 2 ‘Actions, Images and Letter Formation’ document.
In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.
In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps. For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression. To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact. We promote a 'phonics first' approach in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics, to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow.
In EYFS and Year 1 emphasis is placed upon children applying their phonic knowledge when reading; facilitating them with skills to segment and blend unfamiliar words in texts. Sound buttons are used as a visual aid to help children identify each sound in the unfamiliar word. Songs and actions from the Jolly Phonics scheme alongside Letters and Sounds are used to engage children and to help them retain knowledge of phonemes and correlating graphemes.
The Reading Stars decodable scheme we have adopted supports the children with their early reading development and is fully aligned to Letters and Sounds.
Writing and Spelling:
In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught to apply their phonic knowledge when writing unfamiliar words. As with reading, the children are encouraged to segment the word to help them write the correct graphemes. This also applies in Year 1 where children are taught to spell with suffixes and prefixes as the root word is likely to be phonically regular.
From Year 2 upwards emphasis is placed on using phonics to spell and the teaching of spelling rules. To enable children to retain and apply spelling rules spelling patterns are reinforced and are a focus. This gives teachers a way of communicating spelling rules within lessons and enables children to have more ownership over their spellings.
Starting in Reception each child has a band colour assigned to them based on their reading ability. Children are encouraged to read books from their book band and bring them back to school to change them when they choose to. Teachers will change children’s book bands based on their own assessment and this is recorded in Reading Records as a way of communicating this to parents. Books on the book band scheme are specifically aimed at developing decoding strategies as well as early comprehension skills.
At St. Paul’s, we aim to provide children with a literacy-rich environment with high quality texts and inspiring learning opportunities at the heart of our teaching. This will lead to children:
- Developing a life-long enjoyment of reading and books
- Gaining the tools to be able to reading accurately, fluently and with understanding;
- Applying a knowledge of structured synthetic phonics in order to decode unfamiliar words with increasing accuracy and speed
- Being able to read with expression, clarity and confidence
- Developing an intrigue and curiosity around the use of vocabulary
- Reading and responding to a wide range of different types of texts
- Developing a deeper level of emotional intelligence and empathy
- Leaving St. Paul’s with the necessary skills to flourish as readers at secondary school
- Children in Y1-6 take part in Guided Reading lessons across the week, where children are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding of language, grammar and use inference to develop their thinking beyond the text.
- Classrooms are filled with a range of good quality texts, ranging from themes of diversity, aspiration and adventure.
- Children’s reading is monitored by their class teacher through 1:1 time and noted in reading records. This provides great opportunity for dialogue between child, teacher and parent.
- Each classroom has a reading area that is filled with books suitable for their reading age. This is a comfortable place for children to read and strengthen their love of reading.
- We will engage with parents/carers to work collaboratively and enable children to be fully supported on their reading journey through the school.
- Children who are not yet ‘free readers’, will work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age. We expect family at home to read these books with their child daily and make comments in their child’s reading record. By the time children leave St Paul’s, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.
Phonics and Reading Impact
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum via our school newsletter with book recommendations for each year group. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles. Before the children leave St. Paul’s for the next chapter in their lives, they will be empathetic readers and writers, be able to recognise reading provides endless opportunity and be understanding of the importance of development in their learning; learning inspired by our curriculum drivers – spirituality, possibility and growth.
- At St Paul’s, we seek to develop children’s writing through exposure to engaging, age-appropriate texts that stimulate ideas and form instincts that support their decision making as young writers.
- We want pupils to confidently communicate their knowledge and emotions with a sense of adventure and possibility as they progress through their education.
- The pupils will be inspired to acquire a wide range of lexis, a solid foundation of grammar and a control over punctuation; all components that will be overseen by teachers’ subject knowledge that will seek to motivate and challenge all learners.
- Pupils will endeavour to learn new spelling patterns to enable them to spell words correctly.
- We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently with a sense of purpose to engage their reader/audience. Pupils will learn how to adopt different language styles that will be fit for purpose and appropriacy will be taught in and for a range of contexts.
- We believe that pupils should take pride in their presentation, therefore high levels of joined handwriting will be nurtured in readiness for secondary.
- Our aim by the end of Key Stage 2, is for all pupils to be able to edit through the writing process.
- We will use discussion/speaking and listening in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
- This is in line with our Growth Mindset approach; an approach that seeks to shape pupils into forward thinking, independent writers who are able to modify and refine ideas for a greater impact. The Growth Mindset approach encourages pupils and staff to hold no preconceptions about ability and skill; it is the journey and end point that matters most, not the starting point.
- We will seek to form effective partnerships with parents and carers to enable the writing, grammar and spelling of pupils to be consolidated and to flourish.