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St Antony's

Catholic Primary School

God is at the heart of our school

English

Here at St Antony’s we have developed an English curriculum that encourages our children to grow a love of Reading, Writing and discussion. Through providing varied learning opportunities, we aim to inspire an appreciation of literature and help them become confident, enthusiastic life-long learners.

We believe our children need to follow a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum, developing ‘real-word’ skills many of which links to our ‘Be-Attiudes,’ enabling them, to participate fully as a member of our community.

We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities that build our children’s Reading and Writing skills. English often links to other areas of the curriculum to enable our children to be fully immersed into the learning which in turns helps them to understand the value and importance of written and verbal communication.

Reading (VIPERS)

We, as a school, explore reading through daily VIPERS whole class shared reading sessions as we feel it is the best way to ensure all children are able to increase their vocabulary, understanding and enjoyment of texts. It allows in-depth discussion of high quality books daily for every child. This is a huge difference to carousel guided reading which will only allow children the chance to discuss a text with an adult once a week. VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum.  They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc.  As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions.  They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.   

VOCABULARY   INFERENCE   PREDICT   EXPLAIN   RETRIEVE   SUMMARISE/SEQUENCE

 

VIPERS sessions are taught daily:

  • Nursery and Reception sessions are 10-15 minutes
  • Year 1 and 2 are 20-30 minutes
  • Year 3-6 are 45 minutes

 

Outline of the session:

  1. The session begins with reading a shared text. This is read by the teacher as a model to show expression and tone. During this reading, the teacher will ask questions to initiate discussions on the focus VIPERS skill that has been chosen for that session.
  2. The teacher will then model how to answer an example question. They will verbalise their thinking to the children which allows them to see the whole comprehension process.
  3. The children then work either independently or with a partner to answer a similar question using the teacher’s model as a guide.
  4. The children then complete a range of actives to further develop their understanding the focus VIPERS skill. This could be creating character profile, drama/role play, ranking vocab in order of importance, true or false quizzes, mood graphs, annotating extracts etc.

While VIPERS focuses on the comprehension aspect of reading, all children have opportunities throughout the week to develop their decoding skills in small group activities and 1-1 with an adult with the aim for our children to become independent, fluent readers.

Book bands

At St Antony's we use the book bands system for grading books. Each book band has its own colour. Book bands is a proven approach to developing successful readers. It is a national scheme that grades the wide variety of reading scheme books and many ‘real’ books according to the difficulty of the text. Please see the ‘Book band information’ document for further information about the book band scheme.

Writing

Having been exposed to high quality discussion and ‘rich talk’ conversations about their class book in their daily VIPERS sessions, our children are well prepared to explore different techniques for writing. At St Antony’s we plan and teach writing lessons that encourage the children to be immersed in the whole writing experience. Starting with a creative hook, the children are shown how to plan, draft, edit and publish their writing.

 

Grammar and Spelling

Grammar and Spelling play a vital role in the writing experience. Spelling is taught throughout the week but begins with a dedicated lesson on Monday in which the children learn how to apply a specific spelling rule. This links seamlessly to our handwriting scheme (Nelson’s handwriting). Children will receive their weekly spelling list in their diaries and these will be tested each week.  

 

How Can I Help My Child with Spelling?

You can help your child at home by helping them to learn to use the new words they are learning in context.

Help them to understand what each word means and how it can be used day to day and in their written work.

You could also ask them to explain to you any patterns and spelling rules they have identified.

Handwriting

A flexible, fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. Therefore, handwriting must be actively taught and the skills applied to everyday use. Handwriting is a developmental process with its own distinctive stages of sequential growth: from readiness for handwriting to letter joins, practising speed and fluency and higher presentation skills. At St Antony’s we follow the Nelson handwriting scheme (Please see ‘Appendix 1 examples of handwriting styles' as a guide to how letters should be formed).

 

We aim for our children to have a clear, comfortable, legible style of writing in which letters are formed correctly and in a cursive style.

 

We feel that Handwriting is a skill which needs to be taught explicitly. Since handwriting is essentially a movement skill, correct modelling of the agreed style is essential. Handwriting is taught for at least 15 minutes, three times a week in EYs and KS1 and twice a week in KS2.

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