St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

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English Teaching and Learning at St Joseph's


At St Joseph’s, we teach English by developing the following skills:

  • Spoken Language (speaking and listening)
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar


Children learn through a wide range of experiences: writing stories, letters, diaries, information texts, reports, poetry, the analysis of text, drama, films, plays, assemblies/liturgies and songs. 


For more information, please take a look at our St Joseph's English Methods Site. 


Spoken Language at St Joseph’s

At St Joseph’s, we develop children’s confidence and clarity in spoken language. We do this in many ways.

  • Encouraging conversations. This could be through questioning, sparking interactions and giving prompts.
  • Modelling and encouraging listening skills. 
  • Modelling speaking loudly and clearly.
  • Boosting comprehension through questioning.

Developing these skills enable children to clarify their thinking and organise their ideas for writing. Children have opportunities in class worship, group discussions, class assemblies and drama.

Reading at St Joseph's

Extending our imaginations


Reading lies at the heart of St. Joseph's curriculum, where we strive to ignite a lifelong love of reading and language through the immersion of stories and texts that interest, inspire and excite our children. St. Joseph's provides a reading culture that supports children in developing good reading habits that will support them throughout their education, in their personal life and beyond. Early reading is high on our agenda and we recognise that the early years of a child’s life are crucial. The experiences that we offer the children in the EYFS and in KS1 are fundamental in laying the foundations for future reading success. Reading interest is sparked in our children from day one and children have picture books to read initially, leading to phonic based books and on to more complex novels as they reach KS2. A range of genres are widely offered and celebrated through a variety of activities that will in turn inspire our children to write. 


Reading is seen at the very heart of all education at St. Joseph's. The children begin their journey with reading with the teaching and fidelity to a phonics programme (Essential Letters and Sounds), alongside our reading books, which have been aligned to work on the sounds at their appropriate level for decoding and blending purposes. Children are also encouraged to enjoy listening and exploring stories, therefore a library book is provided for children to explore and question to aid their comprehension. As children move through the school, Guided Reading is introduced to delve deeper and extend their comprehension skills (known as VIPERS). This is taught through 3 sessions a week focused on one text to allow immersion in the text, word work to explore and expand their vocabulary and then specific teaching and modelling of the comprehension skills. In addition to this, children visit their key stage library once a week and all children are heard to read at least once every 2 weeks by their class teacher, if not more. At St. Joseph's, we have a varied range of initiatives to encourage regular reading for enjoyment such as reading challenges, Assistant Headteacher 'Book of the Month' recommendations, bedtime stories, Secret Reader and Masked Reader. Celebrating World Book Day, travelling book club and inviting authors in are just some of the many experiences we provide for our children. 


Reading for pleasure is at the heart of all that we do and we have pupils that have developed the habit and passion for reading regularly and widely. All children will have a clear love and pleasure for reading, where they will freely pick up a book and become fully immersed in the plot, whilst extending their vocabulary and comprehension. Clear progress will be documented termly through Target Tracker and their steps for progression; richer and deeper discussions within guided reading sessions will take place, whilst children use their learning as models for their own writing. Children will be storytellers of the future!

For further information on the reading levels and supporting your child with their reading, please refer to our ‘Reading Scheme’ document below.

To see recommended reading lists for each year group, please click on the relevant link below:

Phonics at St Joseph's


Essential Letters and Sounds

At St Joseph’s, we use the Essential Letters and Sounds programme to teach Phonics. It is a Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme, validated by the Department for Education. In this programme, the children are taught to read through decoding and blending. They learn the link between the sounds of our language (phonemes) and the written representation of these sounds (graphemes), or the spellings of the sounds contained within the English language. Children are also taught harder to read and spell words, which are tricky words they encounter often in reading. Lessons are delivered to the whole class and are rigorous and engaging. We can ensure that all children make progress through the sessions, and have regular assessments and one-to-one intervention, where needed.


Phonics is taught from the first few weeks in Reception and daily phonics teaching continues through to the autumn term of Year 2. Year 2 to Year 6 children who require phonics will still have access to the programme. Please see more information about how we teach Essential Letters and Sounds on our St Joseph's English Methods Site


Phonics Check
Towards the end of Year 1, children are required to take part in the government's Phonics Screening Check. This check is a 1:1 task where the teacher shows the child 40 words presented as real words and pseudo words to see if the children are using their phonics to read the words. We inform parents and the local authority of the children’s scores.
For further information about the scheme, please visit the Essential Letters and Sounds website.

Guided Reading at St Joseph’s


Guided Reading is taught from the Summer Term of Year 1 through to the end of Year 6. Using texts aimed at each year group from the Brilliant Activities for Comprehension series, pupils are given three 20-30 minute sessions throughout the week. The first session is used to read the text in a variety of ways and then focus on specific vocabulary which might be new to pupils; strategies include prefixes and root words, as well as the word context to help support word meanings. The second session focuses on immersing pupils in the text, such as using drama/hot seating to encourage active learning and deeper understanding of themes and characters within the text, alongside drawing descriptions. The third session focuses on comprehension questions in the form of VIPERS (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval, sequencing and summarising). Each week focuses on a different VIPERS skill (where each strand is covered every half term). Pupils will then proceed to answer all VIPERS questions where marking criteria is provided, ensuring transparency in the detail that is required. 

We ask that your child reads four times a week at home as a minimum.  Please see our 'top tips' below, which should help you when reading with your child. Please also refer to the videos to get an idea of how to listen to your child read as they begin their reading journey with us at St Joseph's.

10 top tips for parents to support children to read:


1. Encourage your child to read

Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too. Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.


2. Read aloud regularly

Try to read to your child every day. It’s a special time to snuggle up and enjoy a story. Stories matter and children love re-reading them and poring over the pictures. Try adding funny voices to bring characters to life.


3. Encourage reading choice

Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time - it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up.


4. Read together

Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your children to read to each other. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.


5. Create a comfortable environment

Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently - or together.


6. Make use of your local library

Local libraries also offer brilliant online materials, including audiobooks and ebooks to borrow. See Libraries Connected for more digital library services and resources.


7. Talk about books

This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.


8. Bring reading to life

You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend? Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an interesting article you’ve read.


9. Make reading active

Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos from your day and adding captions.


10. Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them

You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it.


For more ideas please visit the Oxford Owl website.


Top tips for reluctant readers:

  • Model reading by alternating between your child reading a page, and yourself reading a page. Make sure you use expression and model voices for characters and fluency!
  • Encourage their interests by finding books around them which support their passion. If your child is a budding scientist, or football mad or if they love fashion design, there will be a book for them!
  • Listen to audio books as a way to hook children in.
  • If there is an associated film, watch it and then compare the film with the book and talk about whether the characters looked the same as in their head, or if any important plot points from the book were missed.
  • Take them to the local library - children love having the responsibility of choosing their own reading material.
  • Read anything and everything: newspapers, internet articles about their favourite sportstar or musician, poems, annuals. magazines or comics and graphic novels:  the possibility is endless!
  • Share your own favourite childhood books with them as a bedtime story.
  • Encourage a book swap with a friend of theirs.
  • Make a 'reading den' at home - think cosy: blankets, battery operated candles, cushions and a mug of hot chocolate!
  • Write a letter to, email or tweet an author - you never know if your child will get a reply!
  • Make the most of technology by video calling relatives or friends so your child can read aloud to someone else.

Writing at St Joseph's

We believe that the use of good quality texts can be very beneficial for modelling writing. We focus on the link between reading and writing to provide children with rich opportunities.

From an early age, children are taught pre cursive letter formation, leading to cursive (joined) handwriting. 


At St Joseph’s, we use Essential Letters and Sounds to teach children Phonics across EYFS, KS1 and beyond. Children will learn to spell decodable words and common exception words once they can identify them in their reading. We also use the Spelling Shed scheme of work from Year 2 upwards to provide a consistent, challenging and appropriate level of spellings for each year group.

SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) bookmarks
To consolidate previous learning and to help children become more confident in SPaG elements within their current year group, each child is given a SPaG bookmark to refer to in their lessons. These bookmarks detail learning from the year below as a consolidation tool as well as their current curriculum objectives. Children use these bookmarks as a method for self and peer marking, reflection and feedback in order to improve their writing.


SPaG booklets
Alongside our bookmarks, we have developed booklets detailing the SPaG terminology for each year group. These feature clear examples of each objective and term and are primarily for children to use at home to assist with any homework or home-learning.

Vocabulary at St Joseph’s

Through our strong links to reading, we develop children’s use of rich vocabulary by engaging with high-quality texts, completing shared and modelled writes and regular sessions which focus on improving their use of vocabulary, to match the tone and genre of writing they are learning about.


Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar at St Joseph’s

At St Joseph’s, we use a Place Value of Grammar document which was developed by This document details the building blocks of grammar for each year group and then builds upon these elements in a clearly structured and cohesive way in order to create long-lasting and in-depth knowledge and understanding. Teachers use this document to inform their planning and ensure that all objectives are met in a structured manner with clear progression throughout their time at St Joseph’s.