ENGLISH – SPOKEN ENGLISH & DRAMA – AT ST MARY’S

Why do we teach what we teach? (Our intent)

At St Mary’s, we recognise and value the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development as spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak is vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar, and forms the foundations for reading and writing. In addition to this, the ability to speak articulately with adults and peers alike ensures our pupils are able to participate fully in everyday activities, confident that their ideas and views are listened to and acted upon, something that is vital in today’s quickly changing society where discussion, debate and argument can bring about great social change. Drama is a powerful way to unpick complex scenarios and helps pupils to understand motivation and intent of characters for the fiction books they are reading, as well as helping pupils to understand the reasons why not everyone in the wider community thinks and behaves in the same way, encouraging pupils to be tolerant citizens.

How do we teach it? (Our implementation)

Pupils from Year 1-6 are taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers by asking relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge in small group based reading lessons
  • give well-structured descriptions and explanations, including expressing their feelings as part of whole class reading lessons or as part of oral book reviews, presentation of homework projects, discussions on current news items
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary during reading and spelling lessons, as well as through the ‘word of the week’ project
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions when debating relevant social topics as part of history, geography, RE and PHSCE lessons
  • participate in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments when working in groups in all lessons, or for example, when participating in inter school mathematical competitions
  • speak audibly and fluently when participating in class/year group assembly performances, role play in English lessons, voice over recording published on the school website

What is the difference that this makes? (Our impact)

The celebration of drama and role play through: participation in class assemblies; staging of plays and productions to invited audiences; regular whole school film festivals where pupils make live action films and voice overs for documentaries and participation in poetry slams performed for an audience has meant that pupils have a love for drama and are aware of how to speak clearly and confidently. Pupils have an increasing command of Standard English, which in turn supports their written English. Using drama techniques in a range of lessons e.g. English-reading and writing lessons, PHSCE, History, RE allows pupils to become familiar and confident with drama techniques over a range of time, consolidating drama skills. Pupils’ understanding of complex issues at an individual, local, national and global level are deepened by using drama to unpick mature themes and ideas. As a result, our pupils leave St Mary’s ready to have their voice heard e.g. through membership of the Slough youth parliament.