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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 2023, 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. During this stage, children are able to gather their ideas through ‘chotting’ (chatting and jotting) on their ‘Thinking Side’.  They are then able to use these notes within their own writing on their ‘Writing Side’.

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. This is where children can use their ideas from their ‘Thinking Side’ within their writing.

Throughout the writing process, children edit and redraft their work in response to feedback from their teacher and peers.

Children are aware of their learning outcomes through their Steps To Success – this shares a general learning objective taken from The Write Stuff, a National Curriculum learning objective, the lenses they are working on and their lesson sequence within their learning journey.  This allows children to self-assess against the learning outcomes.

Again, like reading any gaps have been identified through a detailed assessment and moderation process. Handwriting and spellings are taught discretely every day. We follow the programme ‘Letterjoin’ for handwriting and teach spelling patterns direct from the National Curriculum.  This is taught at the start of our English lessons, through our Steps To Success.


Implementation of Reading


Reading is taught every day at our school and is at the heart of our curriculum. We intend for all learners to leave our school as confident readers with a love of books. EYFS and KS1 follow the RWI phonics scheme. Children are assessed every 6 weeks and grouped according to their ability at that point in time. These groups move fluidly throughout the year. In KS2 we follow a whole class reading approach. Since September 2020, we invested in quality texts for each year group, which we adapt each year according to trends and children’s interests. We carefully chose books that link in with curriculum themes for the term, are engaging and include rich vocabulary. Our primary focus is to model to pupils how to read and understand the text. We do this through echo reading, paired reading, identifying key vocabulary and class discussions. From these texts we write VIPERS questions for the children to answer. Throughout the week these will cover all strands to make the children confident to comprehend what they have read. In September 2021 we included factual, mathematical and poetry books into our reading sessions, focusing on these texts each term for a week each. We follow the same weekly pattern when reading these books. We incorporate reading into all of our subject areas encouraging children reading from the board, reading aloud and reading for pleasure and for knowledge. Any children that are lower ability readers or SEND are assessed using YARK, areas of weakness are identified and then interventions are put in place to help. If needed pupils in KS2 are also assessed using the RWI phonics assessment and are placed in groups for their ability. Any gaps in learning are identified through baseline and formative assessment. These gaps are filled through first quality teaching and through small group interventions.


Reading for pleasure has been a huge focus. We offer incentives for reading for pleasure, such as prize boxes and story sacks, dedicate time for it in school and all teachers read to the class every day. Any children that are not heard read at home or are our lowest 20% in the class will be heard read regularly in class. This could be by school staff, volunteer readers that come in each week and students from our local secondary school. Year groups take it in turns to visit our local library and take out books to read for pleasure. We also introduced ‘Race the Teacher’ which encourages the children to read more broadly at home. Each teacher picks a text each term to read for pleasure. The children join in at home and high quality discussions take place in school. In order to make reading for pleasure a higher profile in our school we have made our class reading corners more engaging and stimulating with forward facing books, have had our corridors and library painted in story book themes and purchased new books for the library.

Overview of poetry and factual books

VIPERS question examples



Half-termly, teachers moderate pupils work in school and in cluster meetings with other schools to ensure accurate assessments are made. The quality of writing in English and curriculum books is evaluated by learning walks, drop ins, pupil conferencing and work scrutinies. These inform future areas for improvement and the impact of new initiatives. The English subject leader provides an action plan for the subject and addresses areas for development and improvement which is then shared with all staff.


Children will leave St Thomas More with a love of reading and inspired to write.  They will be well equipt to access their learning as they progress to secondary school and the challenges of later life.


All children will have received the support they need to access a range of texts and will have a wealth of vocabulary for them to access the wider world.

Year 5 reading their writing to our younger pupils

During our narrative unit, Year 5 added words to the story 'The Snowman' by Raymond Briggs. They then continued the narrative in their own way. They shared their finished stories with the children in EYFS and Year 1.

Year 5 Experience Lesson - Scott of the Antarctic

Reading areas in the school



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.


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. Classes also take it in turns each term to visit our local library to take out and return books.


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.

Story sack!

Reading areas and writing displays

We love Buddy Reading with our friends from other classes!