The study of English is central to the learning and development of all young Australians. It helps create confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and informed citizens. It is through the study of English that individuals learn to analyse, understand, communicate and build relationships with others and with the world around them-Victorian Curriculum, English
With this understanding in mind, at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School we offer a wide variety of engaging literacy experiences, within authentic real-life contexts, to build essential skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening.
We have high expectations for students and work diligently to achieve growth for all. It is our belief that focused teaching, engaged learning time and high expectations impact on the literacy outcomes of all.
At St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, we strive for best practice, actively seeking sound research-based strategies that will improve student-learning outcomes. The strategic implementation of a range of instructional strategies creates a solid foundation for literacy learning. Explicit instruction and guidance is balanced with regular opportunities for independent application.
Initial and ongoing assessment and monitoring ensures that student needs are met through planned learning experiences. Students are also encouraged to monitor their own learning through specific goal setting opportunities.
The importance of English is evident in the time allocated to this subject area across the school: two hours per day F-6. In the F-2 classes, there is an explicit focus on one hour each of the areas of reading and writing. In the 3-6 classes, there is more movement between reading and writing as the students learn to integrate and apply their skills.
Fundamental to all aspects of literacy are speaking and listening skills. These skills underpin all aspects of literacy learning and are taught and practised accordingly.
English is taught within classes making use of the whole-small-whole model. This means that students will experience whole class focused teaching, and will have small groups where higher levels of interactions and differentiation occur. Gathering as a whole class at the conclusion of a learning experience gives students a chance to reflect on their learning, and to consolidate the focus of the session.
At St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, we have implemented a strategic whole school approach to spelling. THRASS trainer and educator, Michelle Hutchinson, developed the SMART Spelling approach. It is based on the premise that spelling is best taught through pattern and regularity. SMART Spelling is designed to support teachers, and therefore students, in the explicit and systematic teaching and learning of spelling. It includes a yearly scope and sequence F-6, and is consistent with the content and sequence in the Victorian Curriculum. SMART Spelling includes word families, high frequency words, prefixes, suffixes, plurals and spelling rules to assist the students to understand more about how words work. THRASS is an integral component of this spelling approach.
Heggerty’s Phonemic Awareness Curriculum
At St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, we have also implemented a phonological and phonemic awareness curriculum F-2. This curriculum includes 35 weeks of explicit and systematic phonological and phonemic awareness lessons. These oral lessons are completed daily across the F-2 classes and are designed to link with reading skill development for students at these levels. Lessons take between 10/12 minutes (Foundation) -15/20 minutes (1/2).