Our English curriculum is based around a storytelling approach to literacy. This is a simple idea, initially advocated by Pie Corbett in 2008, through the Talk for Writing strategy. The key idea is that children must be able to say what they want to write confidently before they can write it. It uses oral stories to support children in learning the language of stories, and ultimately their structure by teaching them an oral story every term. This is done through a process of mapping out the story pictorially then having plenty of experience of retelling the story or sections of the story to each other, or to the class. Once they are familiar with the story, they will do other activities designed to deepen their understanding of the story, including drama, role play, short writing tasks in role as a character before trying to change or innovate the story structure to make it their own. Non-fiction texts such as recounts, instructions, explanations and discussions are also taught in the same way, as children learn a model text through mapping and retelling. Along side this there is also a real emphasis on on enriching all children’s spoken vocabulary through oral activities and games.
Reading for pleasure is what we would like all our children to be doing, once they have developed the decoding skills necessary for them to be independent readers, and the storytelling approach, allows children to be submerging into a multi-sensory world around the books they are studying. The school has an excellent library, which each class has regular access to as well as good quality fiction and non-fiction in each class. We also benefit from the library bus every two weeks. Dates for this are available from the school office.
To develop the skills necessary to read, all children as soon as they enter school will work through the Letters and Sounds phonics programme, as well as having their own reading book to read with an adult daily either at home or at school. Our reading books are colour banded according to difficulty, however within each band some books may be more phonic led, while others may rely more on recognised sight vocabulary. Your child’s class teacher will ensure that the books your child is reading are right for them, and of course we encourage sharing of books beyond your child’s own reading capabilities. Throughout their time at St James they will experience a wide range of literature and increasingly develop their understanding of the use of language, spellings, punctuation and grammatical structures.