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Our Approach to English

Our Intent

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard and read to grow”

English has a key place in the education of the pupils at The Marist. It is both an important subject in its own right and as the medium to accessing the whole curriculum. It is our intention that that our children develop the skills in speaking, reading and writing to express themselves clearly and to enable them to communicate effectively with the world around them.

Reading Intent

We place a huge importance on learning the skills of reading, developing both decoding and comprehension in partnership. We want all children to become confident and skilled readers with a lifelong love of books. It is very important to us that the children are exposed to a range of high quality literature above their reading ages which challenges their existing levels of vocabulary and understanding.

Reading Implementation

Early Reading: Becoming an accomplished reader is underpinned by a strong start in early reading. Our goal is for each and every child at the Marist to learn to read as quickly as possible.   

Phonics (taught using Read, Write Inc.) is the beginning of our children’s journey towards mastering reading. The RWI sessions take place every day, as the pace and consistency of the programme is a key element to developing reading skills for all children. 

Our ultimate aims and objectives within the Read Write Inc. programme are for the children to be able to learn and apply sound blending skills and to learn to segment words in order to become skilled and confident readers. Children also learn to read and spell words that do not conform to regular phonetic patterns (High Frequency Words) and decode both fiction and non-fiction texts through discussion, performance and teacher led activities. 

Starting from the very first weeks of school, we teach phonics every single day to ensure success. Children are grouped according to their phonic ability so that every child makes rapid progress and any children falling behind are quickly identified.  Children take home book bag books which are based on the sounds they already know and the ones they are currently learning. They practise reading their decodable books until they can do so with fluency and understanding. Please see our separate Phonics and Early Reading at the Marist handout for more detail.

Once pupils are fluent at decoding, they progress to further develop their skills. This programme enables children to develop their comprehension, writing, critical thinking, discussion skills and gain a firm knowledge and understanding of grammar. 

When the children know all their sounds and tricky words, they move onto our Book banded books. These include a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books and the use of the PM benchmarking ensures that the children read at the sufficient level of challenge.

Once the children have completed these book banded books (copper level) they can then read from the school Challenge Books which are monitored by teachers. Children are heard to read in school on a regular basis and a record is kept of home and school reading in the pupils’ reading journals.

There are frequent opportunities to maximise parental engagement through Stay and Read sessions, Grandparents and Dads read in School as well as regular phonics and early reading information sessions.

Our English lessons in every year group are centred around the use of high-quality texts which are shared and read by pupils during their English lessons. These lessons are also supplemented with linked non-fiction texts and poetry. This exposure to a wide range of literature not only enhances comprehension skills but supports the acquisition of knowledge and ambitious vocabulary. Within English lessons, children learn the necessary comprehension skills of retrieval, inference, paraphrasing and sequencing as well as learning to make connections between texts; to discuss and evaluate ideas and to express opinions. Vocabulary is taught both implicitly and explicitly so that the children can rapidly increase their ability to embed new words into their writing and into their speech. Class texts are frequently selected to complement the topic being studied in foundation subjects and allow pupils to make meaningful links between their knowledge in different subject areas. Guided reading is taught alongside English lessons to further develop reading comprehension skills and fluency.

Reading at Home: At the Marist, we recognise children need constant practice to become established, fluent readers and therefore place a strong emphasis on reading at home in addition to school. All children, from EYFS to Year 6, are expected to read at least four times a week and record their reading in a reading record book. Parents are encouraged to support children in this.  Teaching staff monitor children’s reading habits and book choices, working with parents to inspire our pupils to become great readers. In parallel with this, we celebrate children’s reading through sharing stories, partner classes, assemblies, awards and World Book Day. We invite parents and grandparents into school to read for the children and hold regular stay and read sessions in EYFS and Year 1. We also hold regular information sessions on phonics and early reading beginning when parents first visit the school with their children.

Writing Intent

All children are provided with many opportunities to; develop and apply their writing; to plan, revise and evaluate their writing, focusing on developing on both transcription and composition. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. We aim for all pupils to leave school being able to use fluent, legible and speedy handwriting. 

Writing Implementation

Writing: At the Marist, writing begins from a very early age - as soon as a child can mark make. Gross and fine motor skills are developed through our provision within EYFS, ensuring all children developmentally prepared to form letters correctly (taught in Read Write Inc).   

In Key Stage 1, children are taught the skills of writing primarily through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre. In Key Stage 2, children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.   

Throughout all year groups, we teach writing through engaging and challenging topic-based texts. This supports them in the application of vocabulary and structure. Children are given termly enrichment opportunities to promote and inspire writing of a high quality across the curriculum.     

Teachers initially model and scaffold the learning before giving the children the opportunity 

to practise the skills needed for them to write independently. Intentional monitoring is used throughout the lessons to provide the children with timely and constructive feedback, having immediate impact on their writing progression. The use of Alan Peat sentence types helps to develop the structural and technical knowledge of language and provides a framework for progression to more discerning use of different sentence constructs.  

Big Write

At the Marist we follow the Big Write approach to writing. This approach focuses on the importance of talk and oral rehearsal prior to writing. Children are given a real purpose for writing and there are high expectations of all pupils. In the lead up to the writing lessons, time is spent on teaching accurate basic skills in spelling, punctuation, grammar and writing. During and after each Big Write session, the children are given regular and meaningful feedback and targets are reset.

The stimulus for writing can be a photo, a picture, a video clip, or an experience and is generally linked to the high-quality text being studied in class. Lessons during the week lead up to the Friday Big Write. The task is sent home on a Thursday to allow children to discuss their ideas with parents and to orally rehearse their writing. Time is allocated after the Big Write for editing and responding to feedback. Certain pieces are selected to be published (written up in best).

Spelling: Our spelling curriculum follows National Curriculum guidelines developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group. Children in the early years follow RWInc to become proficient in decoding words in order to spell them using their fingers to count out the number of sounds. Children in Years 2-6 receive a spelling list at the start of the spelling week which are systematically taught throughout the week. Spellings are sent home as part of homework and children are tested each week.  The school also uses Spelling Shed to encourage the children to practise their spelling and to further embed the spelling rules.

Handwriting: We use Penpals Handwriting scheme.  Children in EYFS practise letter formation as part of their daily phonics. This is carried through to Year 1 where children receive timetabled handwriting sessions. In year 2, children will learn to join their handwriting. In Key Stage 2, children continue to work on joining, legibility and writing at length, receiving a pen licence when they can fluently write in a neat, cursive style through the curriculum. By the time children get to year 5, all children are expected to be writing in pen. Opportunities are given to showcase best handwriting when children ‘publish’ their work and present it for display.


The impact of our English Curriculum can be seen in the pupils’ ability to speak, discuss, read and write confidently and effectively. It can be seen in the writing the children produce and in our reading and writing results across the school and across each subject level.

In the Early Years and Year 1, phonics and reading is carefully monitored through half-term assessments from RWInc. Children who have made accelerated progress are moved on to a suitable level of challenge and children needing further support are identified. The children then move on to PM benchmarking books and their progress is monitored to ensure they are reading at the correct level of challenge.

From Year 2, we use Star Assessment from Accelerated Reader each half-term to measure reading ages; this allows us to track each child’s progress quite closely and as a diagnostic tool, enables us target specific support to where it is needed. In addition, standardised reading tests are administered each term.

Twice a year spelling tests are taken by the whole school to ascertain the progress and to identify any gaps.

Each year, we participate in the National No More Making scheme which allows the opportunity to moderate our writing against schools all over the country. This ensures consistency across our staff in our moderation of our own pupils’ writing and validates our judgements.

Recommended book lists for each age group:

The Reading Teacher

Books for Topics

Glossary of Grammatical Terms:



Parent Guide to Early Reading and Phonics

English National Curriculum

Please click this link to find more information about English and The National Curriculum.

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