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St Thomas More Catholic Primary School

Inspiration, Celebration and Education


English at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School



The National Curriculum (2014) forms the basis for all teaching, ensuring continuity and progression throughout our curriculum. Teachers at St Thomas More make sure the content is relevant and stimulating by delivering lessons related to engaging books and relevant topics. Our English curriculum has been developed to recognise the importance of English in every aspect of daily life and to develop children’s love of reading, writing, speaking and listening. We aim to create a school where children love to read, take pride in their writing and can speak aloud confidently. 


Our intent is to unsure children leave our school being able to:

• Read easily, fluently and with good understanding for pleasure and for information

• Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences

• Develop a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively.

• Confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling

• Develop oracy skills, understanding unfamiliar words and using them in context.

• Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to give their opinions and build on other peoples suggestions.

• Become confident speakers and listeners, making formal presentations, being involved in performances and liturgies.


Implementation of writing


After a trial period in Year 2, 3 and 4, as of September, we have adopted ‘The Write Stuff’ approach in Years 1-6 to our teaching and learning of English to ensure clarity to the mechanics of writing. In EYFS, the ‘Fantastic Foundations’ approach is used.  


Fantastic Foundations

Fantastic Foundations - The Write Stuff in the Early Years, created by Jane Considine, is a system that puts key aspects of communication at the heart of teaching. Pupils' language will be nurtured through developing ideas, strengthening talk and widening writing opportunities.


‘Fantastic Foundations’ is based on three guiding principles:


1. Understanding the uniqueness of each child

2. Nurturing deep talk and developing listening

3. Providing a rich repertoire of real and imagined experiences to ignite writing


The Write Stuff

Following a method called ‘Sentence Stacking’, the approach places emphasis on sentences being ‘stacked together’ chronologically and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. Within each genre studied by the children, they will learn to sentence stack, focusing on the style of the author and impact of words and sentences most appropriate for that particular genre.


Within each writing lesson, pupils learning is ‘chunked’ into three distinct parts for a writing lesson; initiate, model, enable. The initiate stage is a time to inspire: through the use of a stimulus, pupils are immersed in a rich language discussion and activities to provide a wealth of vocabulary to aid their writing. The model stage is the chunk whereby the teacher demonstrates the thoughts and processes of a writer and articulates writing choices. The enable stage is the opportunity for pupils to showcase what they can do within particular writing parameters known as The Three Zones of Writing: FANTASTICs, GRAMMARISTICs and the BOOMTASTICs. The Three Zones of Writing are essential components to support pupils in becoming great writers. Through the nine idea lenses known as the FANTASTICs, pupils focus on intended purpose of a sentence. The GRAMMARISTICs allow pupils to focus on the grammar element of writing which focuses on sentence structure grammar rules and punctuation. The BOOMTASTICs allow pupils to capture and create a vivid visual for the reader through the use of poetic devices. Throughout the writing process, children edit and redraft their work in response to feedback from their teacher and peers.


Implementation of reading


Phonics Screening and reading in EYFS and Key Stage 1

The national phonics screening check was introduced in 2012 to all Y1 pupils.  It is a short, statutory assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It aims to identify the children who need extra help so that they can be given support by school to improve their reading skills.  At St Thomas More we already identify children and provide early intervention support, however  the assessment is a statutory requirement. The test comprises a list of 40 real and pseudo (nonsense) words, which a child will read one-to-one with the class teacher. Half the words cover phonic skills which are usually covered in Reception, and half the words are based on Year 1 phonics skills. Results are communicated to parents through the school report at the end of the academic year.


At St Thomas More the children have access to a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts. Our main reading scheme is RWI, which is our phonics programme that we teach within school. Please take a look at the phonics link to read more about this area. The books children take home to read are linked with the colour books they will be reading in school.

Reading in Key Stage 2


In Key Stage Two the children at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School enjoy effective guided reading sessions. These sessions last for 30 minutes each day and the children are exposed to high quality texts such as The Hodgeheg, Charlotte's Web, James and the Giant Peach and Wonder. We are following a whole class reading approach where all children are involved in the reading, understanding and learning of new words. The whole group follow the text as an adult reads, discuss unusual words, use a dictionary, read themselves and then answer comprehension questions following the VIPERS questioning technique. Throughout the week, and particularly on a Tuesday session, we put a big emphasis on oracy skills. We identify unfamiliar words, investigate these words, write new definitions for them and orally put them into sentences. We feel this helps our pupils hugely with their comprehension skills and application of the new words in their writing. We use the same approach with poetry and factual books which we look at each in turn each term. Extracts from poems and factual books are read, rehearsed, analysed and performed so that a variety of these texts are looked at throughout the year. Teachers choose poems and factual books that are written by a variety of authors, are multicultural, relevant to the topic or just their favourites to share with the class. An example of texts we use is outlined below.

Overview of poetry and factual books

VIPERS question examples

Reading Corners and Outdoor Spaces


To foster a love of reading every classroom at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School has a comfortable and well resourced reading corner. To read not only for understanding but pleasure, children are encouraged to choose a book and enjoy reading a variety of genres as well as their age appropriate reading book and guided reading book. Our reading corners are adapted each term to match the whole class guided reading book that the children are reading.

In our playground we have got 3 reading sheds which pupils can access at break and lunchtime. The areas provide an inviting space for children to read a variety of fiction and factual books of their choice and share them with their friends. Pupils are then encouraged to write book reviews to put on display for everyone else to enjoy.


National Poetry Day 2023

National Poetry Day - Year 5

Year 5 read the poem - On the Move Again by Michael Rosen. We discussed it's meaning and then published the poem with illustrations we felt were appropriate.

We all enjoyed a drama and dance workshop based around the story 'Alice's adventures in wonderland'

Alice In Wonderland Dance workshop


Thank you Katie for today's fabulous retelling of Lewis Carroll's classic novel through the medium of dance.

We love Buddy Reading with our friends from other classes!

Reading areas and writing displays

Reading at home


All children take home a reading journal, along with their reading book, and this is a way of communicating with parents/carers about how well children are reading, how often and areas to work on. Pupils are encouraged to read at least 3 times a week and record this in their journal. Raffle tickets and rewards are given for reading at home. In addition to this, pupils in EYFS and KS1 take home story bags on a Friday to share with their families. These are handed out to one child each week in the class to celebrate their great reading that week.


School Library


To encourage a love of learning further, our recently refurbished library area has been restocked with a range of different books from a variety of genres, authors and cultures. This bright and welcoming communal area of space is enjoyed by many children whether in groups, for quiet reading or to even loan a special book linked to the classroom learning. Children across the school have the opportunity to borrow a book from the school library to keep in their drawers for use during guided reading.


Story sack!