At St Finbar’s, the English curriculum is taught in a differentiated and targeted manner. Literacy skills include the daily practice of reading, spelling, grammar, speaking and listening. We explicitly teach strategies for these areas at a whole class, small group and individual student level. The  learning intentions and success criteria are visible to students and discussed throughout the learning experience:


Phonics and Phonemic Awareness

In Years F-2, the explicit teaching of phonics occurs on a daily basis. Students practise strategies through targeted teaching in whole class mini lessons and in small group sessions, using a synthetic phonics approach. In this method of teaching, words are broken up into the smallest units of sound. We use Smart Spelling and online platforms such as Fast Phonics, Reading Eggs and RAZ Kids.


Reading Comprehension 

Each reading session includes a whole class or shared read with a specific focus on decoding text, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Current studies show that when students experience explicit instruction in comprehension strategies, it improves their comprehension in new topics and texts (Duke and Pearson, 2002). Comprehension is based on strategies such as Making Connections, Inferring, Summarising and Making Predictions. The teaching of comprehension requires explicit instruction in explaining, demonstrating, guiding, practicing and reflecting (Gradual Release Model). 


Library Time

Each class attends a weekly library lesson and each classroom has a library for independent reading time. During independent reading, students also have the opportunity to read online books such as RAZ levelled texts, Epic and from Reading Eggs.



All classes use the SMART spelling sequence which is explicitly modelled and taught, following a Scope and Sequence. Classes follow a weekly structured routine which provides a spelling list for homework and daily activities within the classroom for students to practise the new spelling pattern and rule. At the end of the week all students participate in a spelling test and a dictation session, to consolidate learning. 



At St Finbar’s we follow the VCOP and Big Write approach, in conjunction with the Seven Steps Online Writing  Program, as a supportive resource. Writing sessions incorporate explicit teaching and modelling of:

  • Speaking and listening - oral language skills

  • Big talks about Big Writes 

  • Explicit teaching of vocabulary 

  • Grammar

  • Spelling

  • Punctuation 

  • Handwriting

  • Revising 

  • Self- editing  

  • Feedback 


Our regular Big Writes are an opportunity for students to showcase how they have progressed with their individual writing goals. Following on, a new writing goal is set.  


Speaking and listening

Oral language is to be used to support writing and enrich vocabulary across the school, from Foundation to Year 6: Opportunities for speaking and listening include:

  • Big talk discussions 

  • Topic /theme based discussions

  • Circle time

  • Genius hour

  • Topic based presentations

  • Speaking with Power

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