English is an exciting and rewarding subject at Stella Maris. Much of it is built around a project called The Power of Reading. This uses a wide range of really interesting and exciting children’s books as the context for the children to learn about the mechanics of reading and writing.
The books we have used include Aargh! Spider! for the Reception Class, Street Child for Year 4, and The London Eye Mystery for Year 6.
From the beginning of their school career at Stella Maris, the children learn phonics using the Letters and Sounds approach, and this is tracked through the school until they are secure and are able to read independently. Books from the Oxford Reading Tree are used to support early readers. Children in Reception are given a reading record containing a range of activities that can be done at home to support their learning in school. They are also provided with ‘Book Bags’, containing a reading book and related activities. At the same time, we encourage them to read for pleasure and to build their comprehension skills by discussing what they have read – this is partly done through Guided Reading sessions, which take place in all classes in the school.
The children are also taught to write at length, using many features of the Big Write approach, and are given the opportunity (a calm atmosphere, candles, quiet music) to write with care and thought about real issues.
We celebrate Book Week every year and award a trophy in the summer to the school’s top creative writer.