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Westminster Cathedral

Catholic Primary School

Founded by
The Jesuit Fathers circa 1849



At Westminster Cathedral Primary school, we aim to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word. We believe that developing a love of our language in our children is vital in achieving success at school and later in life.

As a school, we aim to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

At Westminster Cathedral Primary school, ‘The Power of Reading’, an initiative about teaching Literacy through using quality children’s literature is at the heart of our English curriculum. The teaching approaches including art, music and drama is the. This approach enables us to engage and motivate children in their literacy learning. It also enables children to deepen their understanding of texts, offers extensive opportunities for speaking and listening and provides a meaningful context for writing whilst following the English program of study.

The Power of Reading combines the use of outstanding books for children and teachers with an approach to teaching the English curriculum that is creative, engaging and develops a love of literacy.

Writing: We aim for pupils to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Each half term, children will have a core text that is the stimulus for studying different genres of writing, considering the different audiences they may be writing for. Through quality first teaching, teachers skilfully immerse children through the text in these different genres and support them in their planning and development of their writing. Pupils have the opportunity to apply the skills they have been taught throughout the week with an independent extended ‘Big Writing’ session. Children also have planned opportunities for extended writing and the transference of Literacy skills taught, in other subjects such as RE, topic and science.

Handwriting is taught throughout the school focusing on pre-cursive letters in EYFS and developing to cursive script.

In EYFS Children are introduced to the Read Write Ink letter formation and pre-cursive script for letters at the earliest stages of writing. Children in the foundation stage are encouraged and supported to write in the pre-cursive script for specific letters to enable an easier transition in Year1.

In Key Stage One Handwriting is taught daily during our phonics lessons with pupils given the opportunity to practise their skills throughout all written work.

In Key Stage Two handwriting lessons are linked to our spelling patterns during our ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ sessions.  Handwriting is assessed and fed back to children, particularly when they seek to experiment with other handwriting styles.

Reading: Reading is an important part of our curriculum and to support our renewed commitment to the new English Curriculum, all teachers dedicate time daily and weekly to teaching this invaluable skill.

A number of strategies with regards to reading are employed across the school including: phonics sessions, 1:1 reading, guided reading and shared reading.

We want our children to become enthusiastic, engaged readers and to develop a life-long love of books.  We introduce the children to a range of high quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry books through our whole-class, core-text approach to teaching reading, and during their weekly guided reading session.

In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills from the ‘Read Write Inc’ teaching programme as our main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary and vocabulary linked to our topics.  Once grasped, the focus for developing reading is on understanding and comprehension.  Children read with their class teacher at least once a week during their guided reading session, with a TA and also independently supported by teacher set activities during the rest of the week. We also have reading volunteers read with children to support their learning.

Reading at home: Developing readers will bring home levelled books (according to their stage of development). Once children are more confident readers, they progress to longer books with chapters. Independent readers bring home a self-selected book from their class book corner or one they have borrowed from the school library.  Children are encourage to change their book regularly so they can read each evening.

Parental support is hugely important for children in developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding.  Even if a child is an independent reader, we encourage adults to listen to them and discuss the books and other reading material (newspaper etc) they are reading.

Speaking and Listening: Through all lessons, children regularly use and develop their speaking and listening skills in a variety of independent, paired and group activities. We place a huge emphasis on this particularly in Reception where Communication and Language is a prime area for learning. Children also benefit from ‘Talk Boost’ sessions, where include activities that cover the key elements of language: Attention and Listening, Vocabulary, Building Sentences, Telling Stories and Conversations.

Phonics: The teaching of phonics (Read write Inc) is an important part of our literacy learning and this is covered extensively across the Reception and Key Stage One. In Reception pupils are introduced to a key set of phonic skills, including grapheme (written letter) recognition, phoneme(sound) pronunciation, oral segmenting and blending and decoding, that can be transferred to reading and writing in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.

Once the children know the sounds different letters and groups of letters make, they are far more able to decode (read) and blend (spell) words. By the end of Year 1, all children sit a statutory test in phonics.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling: Grammar and punctuation are taught through a mixture of stand-alone lessons as well as being embedded within other English lessons, and other subjects.