St Mary's Catholic Primary School

Live, Love, Believe

Writing and English lessons

Our intent:

At St Mary’s, we recognise the fundamental importance of learning to read fluently and aim to foster a love of reading through exposure to a wide range of books from our very youngest children in Reception right through to our Y6 children. Reading is not just about being able to read the printed word however: it is about children experiencing the varied and rich language used by authors and using this experience to inspire and develop their own creative and information writing. Through developing a love of reading in all our children, we aim to feed their imaginations; widen their horizons and challenge their thinking. 


We know that reading and writing are inextricably linked and we ensure that our teaching of English skills is delivered through exposure to a wide range of high quality texts - fiction, non-fiction, pictures, wordless books, playscripts and poetry – where all children are taught to apply those written English skills and knowledge not only in their English written work but importantly across the curriculum too. We aim to make the acquisition of English reading and writing skills and knowledge as engaging and exciting as possible for the children: role play, drama, learning and reciting poetry, research and discussion are just some of the methods we use to engage the children – as well as using and working with their own interests and ideas, including local and national events so that our curriculum is relevant to them and our school and community context.


Visits by authors and visits to local places of interest are used to spark children’s interests and link to reading or writing outcomes: for example, “flying” to Australia, visiting the local fire station, Osborne House visits and a Victorian school day, Mayan workshops and myth writing, Carisbrooke Castle visitors, the DDay museum, Brading Roman villa, local adventure facilities – and the local care home whose residents regularly receive letters and postcards from our children – all provide opportunities for writing with a real purpose and audience in mind.


How do we teach English?


The English curriculum at St Mary's is a text driven curriculum that uses rich and varied books that provide the skills and knowledge that children need to create and refine beautiful pieces of writing! We want all children to develop a love for creating writing and believe that along with reading and developing speaking and listening, writing makes a significant contribution to the development of children as thinkers and learners. We ensure that children can see themselves as writers through immersing themselves in fantastic books  that will provide them with a wider understanding of the written word that they can also produce.


English is split into different parts so that the children understand that English is made up of lots of different areas and that to become a confident writer, you need all of these 'parts' and be able to apply them at the same time within a written piece. 


Reading skills lessons

Three times a week, the children have reading skills lessons, which teaches the important skills such as inference and deduction using high quality texts - some of which may be wordless books to encourage children to think creatively. Texts are chosen because they may link to a topic being studied in other curriculum areas or be chosen based the children’s interests: this is particularly so in the younger years. Readins skills lessons also develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of grammar and grammatical terms; the author’s intentions by his or her word choice and chosen sentence structure; gives them access to a wide range of authors from many different cultures and exposure to a variety of genres.


Writing lessons

Children receive at least four writing lessons per week. These lessons are based on the learnig journey for writing, where children are taught different aspects of writing that lead to an extended write at the end. During the learnig journey, children have the chance to apply their knowledge and skills through a series of site of application writes (apprentice writes). These are shorter written pieces where children can experiment with their new found skills and test them out. This all leads to their written final outcome. These journeys ususally last around three weeks and are centered around the chosen class book. Children as young as Year 1 are encouraged to self-assess their work, using “purple pens” to indicate where they have made edits. As they get older, the skill of peer assessing is developed alongside self assessment to encourage all children to become reflective learners and critical friends.


Phonic lessons

A good phonemic knowledge is key and the basis for successful reading and writing as children get older and we focus on developing secure phonic knowledge in all children. Daily phonics lessons start in Year R and continue throughout KS1 and often into KS2 for some children who need additional input to secure their phonic knowledge. Recognising the importance of a sound phonic knowledge, we provide specific, focussed phonics interventions for children who need this support across the school, regardless of the year group. Early reading is matched to phonic knowledge with decodable books, both real and those accessed through Bug Club.



children are taught the required spelling rules and patterns specific to their year group through a variety of written and practical activities. Spelling lists and activities are given as home learning to reinforce the learning in school. In order for children to develop their spellings in a systematic way, we use no-nonsense spellings to provide consistency and a progressive delivery across the school. 



We use the Nelson Handwriting programme to provide a consistent approch to handwriting from Reception to Year 6. All children receive at least two targeted handwriting sessions per week, where they can practice the handwriting expectations for their year group. We find that this appraoch really helps the children to focus on what their writing looks like and is another part of 'Egnlish' that children need to be aware of. We want children to be able to be confident in what their writing looks like as well as the content of their written pieces. 


End of Year Expectations

Below you will find more detail about what is taught in each year group. Please remember these are the end of year expectations of what your child should be able to do. To be considered as working at Age Related Expectations (ARE) - the national standard set by the DfE for children to have achieved at the end of each academic year – children are expected to be able to meet each of the objectives or expectations listed in their year group. We recognise however, that all children are different and some may need targeted support, maybe just for a short time, to make progress and achieve within English. Careful and regular assessment of individual needs means that we can identify any gaps in knowledge or understanding and put in place the appropriate support and intervention quickly to close the gap and enable children to continue to make progress. Children with specific Special Needs will access the English curriculum in the same way as their peers. They will access high quality texts in guided and independent work although these may be adapted, depending on individual need. Writing tasks likewise may be adapted through additional adult support in class or in scaffolded independent work. Children with SEND may not be working within their curriculum year and will have different end of year expectations: these will be shared with parents through the Pupil Passport and progress regularly reviewed and closely monitored by the class teacher and SENDCo.