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English at St Joseph's

English Curriculum Intent

At St Joseph’s, English lies at the heart of our curriculum as it is through language and stories that children learn to form concepts, express themselves and understand the world and their place in it.

Across both Key Stage 1 and 2, there is an emphasis on developing children’s vocabulary with the objective of greatly expanding their word hoard from Reception to Year 6. This is done through speaking and listening, reading and writing- using high quality texts which are often linked to other subjects being studied like history or science. We aim to enrich children’s language so they can understand increasingly sophisticated texts and are able to express themselves confidently in a range of contexts.

Since the Infant and Junior schools entered a federation, our objective has been to smooth transition from one school to the next by ensuring consistent systems are in place in English across both schools.

Reading in KS2

Firstly, we aim to nurture a love of reading across both key stages, enabling children to become confident readers. We run a ‘buddy reading’ system each term, where younger children are able to read to, and be read to by, older pupils in Year 5 and 6.Our use of quality texts in English lessons also mean children up to Year 6 are being read a wide range of texts- stories, poems, non-fiction, and reports- exposing them to language and classic stories which they may find too challenging to read independently.

We run a home-school reading system (up to Year 6), which encourages children to read daily- at the appropriate level for them- as an expectation for homework. To ensure progress, children follow a colour coded ‘book banding’ system, and are able to choose their own books from the Junior library.

In addition to reading comprehension embedded in English lessons, there are also specific lessons devoted to teaching reading skills. Real texts are used- often linked to topic work in other subjects- so the context is meaningful to the children. Vocabulary is unpicked to unlock the meaning of the texts and there is a focus on teaching the key objectives of the reading National Curriculum, especially retrieval and inference. 

Writing in KS2

Across St Joseph’s we teach writing through high-quality texts – ranging from picture books to Shakespeare- which engage the children, immerse them in a literary world and provide meaningful contexts for their work. In addition, we use discussion, drama and story-telling, workshops and school visits to engage the children, and links are made between the chosen texts and other areas of the curriculum to deepen learning and understanding.

Writing tasks are purposeful, with a focus on the audience to shape the style and tone of the text. Children are provided with short and long writing opportunities- stories, recounts, reports, newspaper articles, explanation texts- using formal and informal language. Ambitious vocabulary and literary language are taught to enable children to express themselves creatively and they develop an authorial style as they encounter a wide-range of authors and a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

Explicit grammar skills are taught through the texts so they can be applied purposefully by the children in their writing. Our curriculum teaches pupils to add variation and description to their work by using interesting adjectives and adverbs and to develop sentence structure using conjunctions and varied sentence openers. Our aim is for the children to develop a love of writing and to acquire the skills which will enable them to express themselves confidently.

Handwriting, Spelling and Grammar in KS2

Handwriting: Across the federation, children are encouraged to take pride in their presentation and handwriting. In Key Stage 2, from Year 3 to Year 6, handwriting is taught at least three times a week following the Handwriting Guidelines which have been designed to ensure consistency from Reception to Year 6. Children who improve their handwriting are rewarded with ‘handwriting star’ stickers from the Headteacher and their work is put on display.

Spelling: Spelling is taught from Year 2 – 6 every week, following the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme, which builds on the National Curriculum’s statutory word lists, and suggests games and activities to help children learn spelling patterns. Spellings are sent home as part of homework and children are tested regularly.

Grammar: Grammar is taught explicitly in Years 5 and 6. Prior to this grammar teaching is interwoven with English lessons through work on quality texts, following the progression outlined in the National Curriculum for English.


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