St James Catholic

Primary School

In the loving peace, justice and joy of Jesus, we achieve.

St James' English Policy


St James’ Catholic Primary

English Policy

(See separate reading policy)


In the loving peace, justice and joy of Jesus, we achieve.


St. James' is committed to the development of the whole child to his/her potential to meet each child’s individual needs spiritually, intellectually and socially. Our school is a place where children learn to live as Christ taught us and to develop their different skills, abilities and talents. It is our aim to develop the children’s English skills to become literate and independent learners in school and in society.


Our aims for the learning and teaching of English


 To foster an enthusiasm and love of reading and writing.

 To provide a rich and stimulating language environment, where speaking and listening, reading and writing are integrated.

 To provide opportunities for pupils to become confident, competent and expressive users of English with a developing knowledge of how it works.

 To provide opportunities for pupils to be reflective users of language, able to analyse and evaluate features of language.

 To develop an awareness of purpose and audience for both written and oral language.

 To provide an environment where pupils are encouraged to construct and convey meaning, both speech and writing, of factual, imaginary and personal experiences.


We believe we can achieve these aims by striving to provide a rich and stimulating language environment where speaking and listening, reading and writing are integrated across all areas of the curriculum. We value each individual child, monitoring their progress, challenging and extending their learning.


Statutory Requirements


Statutory requirements for the teaching and learning of English are laid out in the National Curriculum for English Document 2014:


The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.


The national curriculum for English aims 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.


School Curriculum Overview


The National Curriculum prescribes that:


The programmes of study for English are set out year-by-year for key stage 1 and two-yearly for key stage 2. The single year blocks at key stage 1 reflect the rapid pace of development in word reading during these 2 years. Schools are, however, only required to teach the relevant programme of study by the end of the key stage. Within each key stage, schools therefore have the flexibility to introduce content earlier or later than set out in the programme of study. In addition, schools can introduce key stage content during an earlier key stage if appropriate. All schools are also required to set out their school curriculum for English on a year-by-year basis and make this information available online.


These documents state that:


In the Foundation Stage children should be given opportunities to:


 Speak and listen and represent ideas in their activities.

 Use communication, language and literacy in every part of the curriculum.

 Become immersed in an environment rich in print and possibilities for communication.


Key Stage 1 - Year 1


During year 1, our teachers build on work from the Early Years Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt. Teachers also ensure that pupils continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier. Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, pupils need to develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading and establish the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. At the same time they will need to hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary. Teachers develop pupils’ oral vocabulary as well as their ability to understand and use a variety of grammatical structures.


Key Stage 1 -Year 2


In year 2, pupils build upon their skills to read all common graphemes. They are able to read unfamiliar words containing these graphemes, accurately and without undue hesitation, by sounding them out in books that are matched closely to each pupil’s level of word-reading knowledge. Teachers ensure children are able to read many common words containing GPCs without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. Pupils are able to discuss and retell some familiar stories, poems and plays.


In writing, year 2 pupils compose individual sentences orally and then write them down. They spell words covered in year 1 and make phonetically plausible attempts to spell unfamiliar words. Our children are able to form individual letters correctly, establishing good handwriting habits from the beginning following our school Handwriting Policy.


Lower Key Stage 2 – Years 3 and 4


Our Lower Key Stage Two children are able to read books written at an age-appropriate interest level and read them accurately at a speed, focusing on understanding what they read rather than on decoding individual words. They should be able to decode most new words outside their spoken vocabulary, making a good approximation to the word’s pronunciation. Teachers ensure all children are independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who develop their understanding and enjoyment of stories, poetry, plays and non-fiction, and learn to read silently. Our children develop their knowledge and skills in reading non-fiction across the curriculum in a wide range of subjects. They can justify their views about what they have read with increasing independence.


Our children write down their ideas with accuracy and with good sentence punctuation. Teachers consolidate pupils’ writing skills, their vocabulary, their grasp of sentence structure and their knowledge of linguistic terminology. Children develop grammar, vocabulary and narrative structures from which they can draw to express their ideas. In Key Stage Two, children use joined handwriting and are able to use it fast enough to record what they want to write.


Our children discuss what they are learning, developing their wider skills in spoken language, becoming confident in using language for a variety of audiences and purposes, including drama, formal presentations and debate.


Upper Key Stage 2 – Years 5 and 6


Our children are able to read aloud a wider range of poetry and books written at an age-appropriate interest level with accuracy and pace. They read most words and work out how to pronounce unfamiliar written words with increasing accuracy.


Our children prepare readings, with appropriate intonation showing understanding, and summarise and present a familiar story in their own words. Our children read widely and frequently, for pleasure and information. They read silently, with good understanding, inferring the meanings of unfamiliar words, and discuss what they have read.


Our children are able to write down their ideas quickly using spelling, grammar and punctuation accurately.


During years 5 and 6, our teachers extend and challenge pupils’ enjoyment and understanding of language, especially vocabulary, to support reading and writing. Pupils’ knowledge of language, gained from stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction and textbooks, will support their increasing fluency as readers, their facility as writers, and their comprehension. As in years 3 and 4, pupils will enhance the effectiveness of their writing and develop their competence and skill as a writer.


Our teachers prepare pupils for secondary education by ensuring that they can consciously control sentence structure in their writing and understand why sentences are constructed as they are. Our children understand nuances in vocabulary choice and age-appropriate vocabulary. Our children’s confidence, enjoyment and mastery of language is extended through public speaking, performance and debate. This involves discussion, practice and consolidation of language to ensure secondary school readiness.


Role of the Local Standards Committee  


Regular reports are made to the Local Academy Representatives on the progress of English provision and the English Leader meets with the SMT and with staff to discuss planning, training and updates.

This policy will be reviewed every three years or in the light of changes to legal requirements or practice within school.


Teaching and Learning


We use a variety of teaching and learning styles in our English lessons, as prescribed in the Programmes of Study outlined in the new National Curriculum, 2014.


The ranges of teaching strategies used include:


 Demonstration

 Modelling

 Explanation

 Questioning

 Peer tutoring

 Speaking

 Listening

 Group discussion

 Interaction, Drama and role play


All children from Reception to Year 6 are given the opportunity to have a “talk partner” to help them in the learning process by sharing ideas and being supportive.


Children are taught in mixed ability classes, the work is differentiated by the class teacher where necessary and there are daily English lessons in Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The lessons aim to teach literacy creatively and effectively, putting quality children’s books at the heart of all learning. They meet the age-appropriate Programme of Study for the teaching of English. Teachers use the Programme of Study to determine the Learning Objective and Success Criteria for each lesson.


In both Key Stages, children are given the opportunity to develop their English skills through a cross curricular approach. The children in Key Stage One have a range of English books to develop their skills in the areas of handwriting, grammar, spelling, reading and writing. In Key Stage Two, children have three books: a spelling journal, a reading journal and an English book. The children in both Key Stages complete one piece of extended writing at least every 5 - 10 days after a cycle of learning. Progress against objectives is regularly updated for each pupil using the school assessment system Insight.


The marking of the extended writing across the school informs planning and is a key to accurate assessment for learning for each individual child. This also provides the child with their next steps to learning.


Spoken Language


Our children, across the whole school, are taught to:


Understand the importance of listening and respond appropriately to adults and their peers, deriving meaning from what others say during discussions, conversations, and when information is asked for or given.

Follow verbal instruction accurately.

Use speech appropriately for different purposes.

Ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge.

Use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary.

Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.

Give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings.

Maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments.

Develop the skills of turn taking, negotiation and reaching consensus.

Use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas.

Speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English.

Adopt appropriate vocabulary, tone, pace and style for a variety of audiences and in a variety of situations.

Participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play/improvisations and debates.

Gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s).

Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.

Select and use appropriate devices for effective communication.


Our children have opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class developing how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates.




It is important for pupils to develop as independent, enthusiastic and expressive writers, who are able to write in a meaningful way. They should be able to use a range of forms for a variety of purposes and audiences. They should be confident in their choice of genre and language style for a specific purpose. Pupils should regard themselves as writers and value their own work and the work of others.

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

 transcription (spelling and handwriting)

 composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)


Our teachers develop the children’s competence in these 2 dimensions. Children are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.


We aim for pupils to be able to:


 Use writing as a means to communicate ideas and information to a reader.

 Write in a grammatically accurate way.

 Develop an increasingly wide vocabulary suited to the purpose and genre.

 Write in a particular genre with a good understanding of the features of that genre.

 Understand the conventions of written language.

 Use teacher modelling as a means to understanding the writing process.

 Understand how writers can have an effect on the reader.

 Articulate and communicate ideas, organising them coherently for a reader.

 Incorporate ideas and skills of other authors into their own writing.

 Collaborate with others during the writing process.

 Work collaboratively with other children to discuss the editing of written work.

 Use ICT as a tool for writing.

 Use spelling, punctuation and syntax accurately and with confidence.


Emergent writing


Children in Reception are encouraged to use a variety of writing materials to experiment with mark making. The children are encouraged to use writing in role play activities and to experiment with writing in the writing corner. They are encouraged to write simple sentences, captions and labels. They are encouraged to talk for writing and retell stories and sentences for the teacher to scribe.

In Reception and Year 1 the children are taught to use emergent writing skills to write list, caption, sentences, etc. The children use their phonic knowledge to write and then read back their writing to the teacher, the TA or another pupil.


Shared Writing


Shared writing is used from Reception to Year 6 as a collaborative strategy for developing writing skills. Children are encouraged to write together supporting each other in a writing task. Teachers will also write with children in a shared writing task, modelling good writing.


Guided Writing


Guided writing is a teaching strategy which includes elements of talk for writing. It is modelled by the teachers/teaching assistants to develop writing skills. It is a practice used across all areas of the curriculum and by all age groups.


Extended writing


All children from Reception to Year 6 will complete an extended writing activity over a period of two - three school weeks. Class teachers plan extended writing activities to match the Programme of Study for English which is specific to each year group. Extended writing provides the opportunity for children to work independently using and applying English skills taught over the week or cycle of learning.




It is important for pupils to write clearly and develop a fluent and legible writing style. Handwriting is taught across the curriculum discretely and through direct teaching. Teachers model the formation and convey clear expectations. Expectations for each year group follow the Programme of Study as outlined in the National Curriculum 2014.


Pupils are taught to:


Sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly.

Begin to form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place.

Form capital letters.

Maintain a consistency in the sizing and presentation of their writing.

Form digits 0-9.


Understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ (i.e. letters that are formed in similar ways) and to practise these.




Children should develop as independent and accurate spellers who are confident to use an evolving and adventurous vocabulary in their own writing.


We aim for pupils to be able to:


 Attempt words for themselves using their knowledge of “Letters and Sounds.” (Using the strategy of “encoding” for spelling).

 Write an increasing number of words from memory. (“Tricky” words or phonically irregular words).

 Use a variety of resources to help with spelling e.g. dictionaries, word banks, classroom displays, computer spell-check etc.

 Develop an understanding of spelling patterns and rules through investigations and identifying the exceptions to those rules.


Teachers follow and use the spelling appendix from the Programme of Study, National Curriculum 2014. The statutory requirement for the teaching of spelling across the whole school is outlined in the spelling appendix. Spellings are linked to phonic progression, knowledge and skills and set word lists for Years Three and Four, and Five and Six.


Grammar and Punctuation


Children are encouraged to use the appropriate grammar and punctuation in their spoken and written work and all staff model and use the correct grammar when speaking to the children.

The teaching of Grammar and Spelling is in line with the requirements of The National Curriculum (2014). Grammar is timetabled to be taught discreetly for at least one three 30minute sessions a week in KS2. In KS1 specific sessions each week are dedicated to the teaching of grammar. Of course, grammar skills are also embedded within English lessons where appropriate.


Cross- Curricular Opportunities


Teachers will seek to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links. They will plan for pupils to practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through English lessons to other areas of the curriculum. Extended writing is expected to be produced in RE, History, Geography and Science; to showcase the children’s transferrable literacy skills.



English and Computing


Opportunities to use computing to support teaching and learning in English will be planned for and used as appropriate. The use of computing is built into the delivery of the English programme wherever possible and the use of computing skills in English is recorded in the English planning. The interactive Whiteboard is used to develop English skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening and phonics.



Assessment and Target Setting


Work will be assessed in line with the Assessment Policy. In addition to this:


We assess the children’s English on a daily basis and make informal judgements when we observe them during lessons. This allows teachers to adjust their daily plans. Teachers match these short term assessments closely to the teaching objectives. This ensures opportunities for assessment for learning and quality marking, in line with the school’s marking policy. Teachers move children’s learning forward through closing the gap comments in their marking identifying the individual child’s next steps. Child friendly targets are used across all areas of English. These are based on the new National Curriculum (2014) Programme of Study for each year group. These targets are used to inform the children of their next steps in learning; as tool for teachers to identify their next steps in teaching and as a means of supporting teacher assessment.


Each term we teacher assess the children’s reading and writing using the Focus Level Descriptors and the Programme of Study for English and the children are identified as: ‘working towards expectations’, ‘meeting expectations’ or ‘exceeding expectations’. Staff assess individual pupils regularly using O’Track.


Writing Moderation


Whole staff writing moderation takes place in the autumn term. Staff agree levels/expectations and samples of work are kept.


In Key Stage 1 children’s phonic progression is assessed each half term and a record is kept of their sight vocabulary and phonic progress across the six-phases of “Letters and Sounds.”


In the Foundation Stage the teachers makes half term recorded observational assessment and updates the Development Matters profile for each child.


In EYFS the teacher formally assess the children’s progress in reading in the Spring and Summer terms using NTS Assessments. In Key Stage 1 & 2 the teachers formally assess the children’s progress in reading each term using NTS Assessments.






In our school we aim to provide for all children so that they achieve as highly as they can in English according to their individual abilities. We will identify which pupils or groups of pupils are under-achieving and take steps to improve their attainment. At pupil progress meetings children off track or underachieving will be identified and actions to close the gaps in their learning discussed. Those children who exceed their Year Group expectations will be identified and class teachers will plan challenging teaching and learning. All class teachers plan for and deliver a differentiated English curriculum to meet the needs of their mixed ability classes.


English Additional Language


Children identified as having English as an additional language are monitored and supported by the Inclusion Manager. If in Early Years, they are assessed on entry using the Development Matters Profile and supported in their progress by the class teacher and Inclusion Manager. The progress of the EAL children is monitored across the school and support and referral to outside agencies is called upon when needed.


Equal Opportunities


In our school all children are provided with equal access to the English curriculum. We aim to provide suitable learning opportunities regardless of gender, ethnicity or home background. We are committed to providing a teaching and learning environment that promotes equal opportunity for all children. We seek to ensure that all children achieve their full potential by providing learning experiences that are personalised and meet individual needs.


Role of the Subject Leader


The Subject Leaders is responsible for improving the standards of teaching and learning in English and ensuring teachers have the resources to ensure standards are maintained and children make progress.

The subject leader will:


 Report to the Head Teacher, SMT and Standards Committee on the  English curriculum within our school.

 Monitor and evaluate the teaching of English across the school.

 Monitor the learning in English through: book trawls, pupil interviews and planning scrutiny.

 Track pupil progress across the school through data analysis.

 Monitor the quality of the teaching and learning environment.

 Take the lead in policy development.

 Support colleagues.

 Purchasing and organising resources.

 Keep up to date with recent English developments and deliver appropriate inset.



Homework and the Role of Parents


We see parents as important partners in the process of developing children’s literacy skills.


 They have an important influence on children’s language before they come to school.

 They provide valuable support at home in helping children to become readers and writers.

 They offer a useful audience for children in their development as speakers and listeners, readers and writers as the children move through the school (e.g. phonics, reading, SAT’s revision).


We therefore encourage parents to play their full part in their children’s education by:


 Involving parents in the school’s reading programme from the moment their child starts school.

 Updating the guidance for parents as their children move through school so that they can continue to offer appropriate support.

 Welcoming offers of help from parents to assist in school by listening to children read.

 Sending homework home in accordance with the school’s Homework Policy and encouraging parental support.


To be reviewed September 2025