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St Thomas’ Catholic Primary School

Learning in the light of Christ.

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In this curriculum overview for English you will see a basic outline of the knowledge, understanding and skills to be covered. 


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 word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.  National Curriculum July 2014


At St Thomas’ we know that our ability to learn comes from our ability to communicate effectively and confidently with one another, and to think critically.  At St Thomas’ this is achieved through speaking and listening, writing and reading opportunities. 


Speaking and Listening

Pupils should be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.  National Curriculum July 2014


At St Thomas' we follow the Talk 4 Writing programme where children learn first to articulate their thoughts before writing and check what they have written by reading it aloud.  Children learn to speak confidently in front of an audience by presenting class, whole school worship, poetry recitals, Nativity Plays and Easter Plays, end of year productions.  Children learn to respond to books during regular guided reading sessions and to drama through visiting productions (The Young Shakespeare Company, The Stag Theatre, drama work with Sevenoaks School).  English lessons incorporate improvised drama to stimulate creative writing.  The KS2 curriculum includes discussion and debate in all subjects.  Y5 participate in The Economist's Topical Talk Festival.  



Pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure.  National Curriculum July 2014


Books open the door to creativity, to visualization and to greater knowledge.  Research tells us that children who read for pleasure on a daily basis develop a wider

vocabulary, greater general knowledge and a far better understanding of our natural and cultural worlds.



We believe that being a ‘good reader’ has a huge impact on children’s writing – and their learning in general. With a heavy focus on phonics in the early years, we strive to develop the children’s wider reading as they progress up the school, including reading for pleasure as a means of expanding their experiences, sentence structures and vocabulary, leading to greater enjoyment and confidence as writers.



All staff have received up-to-date phonics training on the Little Wandle synthetic phonics programme.


Poems are read daily in class – children learn poetry by heart from as young as 3 as they sing rhymes and songs in class.  Older children learn a range of poetry off by heart and there are opportunities for children to recite their poetry to others.




Children get daily supported and independent reading time in class; children are guided to choose books that are engaging. They benefit from daily reading and they are supported to choose books that are challenging and appropriate for their ability. Teachers and teaching assistants use this time to read 1:1 with target children. 

Every child is read aloud to daily for half an hour; class teachers choose high quality books that stretch the children beyond what they might choose to read for themselves. Books chosen include ‘classics’ and stories from different cultures and historical periods.

The school library is well resourced, arranged according to genre and open to the children to choose from. The English Subject Leader is in the library every Friday lunchtime to read with children and help them select suitable books.  Each class has an attractive well-resourced reading area; teachers and teaching assistants help children with their selection of books to read independently.  The school has purchased a selection of dyslexia-friendly books which are readily identifiable in the library and in classrooms.




Each KS2 class has a daily guided reading lesson focusing on key skills (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summary).  The fifth session of the week is ‘book talk’ where children are given the opportunity to share their thoughts about what they have been reading.

Children’s progress in reading is formally assessed three times per year to enable their progress to be tracked. EYFS & KS1 track children’s phonics knowledge every six weeks. 

The English Subject Leader is part of local English teacher’s reading group, sharing ideas for good practice; St Thomas’ also took part in regional Reading for Pleasure group (Joy Lane School, Whitstable).

The school has good links with Sevenoaks Library and Sevenoaks Bookshop.  Children visit the library on a regular basis and take part in the special events in the Sevenoaks Literary Festival.



Please see below for recommended texts.  Also, look out for the weekly newsletter where Ms Leahy recommends books.



Reading Progression Across the Curriculum


We follow the systematic synthetic phonics programme called ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’.  This is a fully comprehensive programme designed to teach children to reach from YR to Y2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words.  Children are introduced to phonics in YN through rhyming and word games.  Little Wandle ensures that children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school. 


See below for a summary of the DfE’s Reading Framework July 2021




Phonic knowledge should continue to underpin spelling after key stage 1; teachers should still draw pupils’ attention to GPCs that do and do not fit in with what has been taught so far. Increasingly, however, pupils also need to understand the role of morphology and etymology. National Curriculum July 2014


In KS1, Y1 children follow the Little Wandle phonics programme while Y2 children transition to learning simple spelling rules and patterns from the national curriculum.  In KS2 spelling is taught daily through investigation of spelling rules and patterns from the National Curriculum with practice through short interactive games. 



Pupils should develop stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation.  National Curriculum July 2014


St Thomas’ follows the Talk for Writing programme as we believe that it is through talk that ideas become concrete and we can tell whether our thinking makes sense or not.  Each term, we teach narrative and non-fiction writing skills whereby text is modelled, shared, innovated and worked on independently.   We use narrative to inspire our children and help them to become critical thinkers (across our entire curriculum); this may be a story book, a factual book, a poem, an art work, a piece of film or a trip/visit.  These provide material for children to wrestle ideas with; to agree with some things, disagree with others.  Each year the Young Shakespeare Company inspire the children with a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays. 



This year Sevenoaks School Drama Department will be leading the Y5 children in a series of drama lessons based around Shakespeare’s plays.



Students from Years 5 and 6 recently took part in a wonderful AIM High writing Day with award-winning poet Coral Rumble.   

KCSP Poetry Competition 2023

Writing Progression Document

Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation


Throughout the programmes of study, teachers should teach pupils the vocabulary they need to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language.  It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.  National Curriculum July 2014


At St Thomas’ our teaching is based around increasing the vocabulary and world knowledge of the pupils by focusing on the words which explain the knowledge linked to whatever subject is being taught; without the related vocabulary, the knowledge will not develop.  Teachers plan and explicitly teach vocabulary.  They encourage the children to develop an interest and growing autonomy with words through helping them see the links between words with similar roots and the origins of words.  Through St Thomas’ progression grammar programme (here) children from Y1 to Y6 learn key grammar and punctuation concepts in the context of writing sentences.  Having a firm understanding of these allow children to be confident in building and manipulating interesting and varied sentences. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

The National Association for the Teaching of English ran a survey to find teachers’ top 100 fiction books all children should read before leaving primary school.

Here are the results:

Reading to Your Child

100 Books to Read Before Leaving Primary School

Summary of DfE Reading Framework

Our Mission and Values

'Learning in the Light of Christ'

Read Our Values And Ethos


Trust Information

St Thomas' Catholic School is an academy, and part of the Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership. The Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under company registration number 08176019 at registered address: Barham Court, Teston, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 5BZ. St Thomas’ Catholic School is a business name of Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership.