Catherine Junior School

Together, we can do it!


At CJS we believe that reading is a skill for life; one that underpins almost everything else we learn and ensures an individual can develop into an informed and active member of this ever-changing society. Our aim is to equip each and every one of our pupils with a love of reading and a secure set of reading skills which will aid them with the next stage of their education and life beyond! A newly refurbished school library was unveiled in April 2017, and stocks of reading materials – including interactive libraries – have been invested in heavily since September 2015. Reading Champions are appointed in each class to lead other pupils; check that pupils are reading daily at home; and drive pupil engagement in reading through competitions, rewards, prizes, trips & library-related learning opportunities.

To meet the differing needs of various groups of learners catered for at Catherine Junior School, reading is taught in a variety of ways. For those in the early stages of language acquisition, the Roots programme taken from ‘Success for All’ is used. This involves the teaching and learning of phonemes (sounds) and the corresponding graphemes (letters or strings of letters) in small groups of pupils at a similar stage in their language acquisition. Roots pupils are assessed every eight weeks and moved to the next stage when they are ready.

The Roots programme consists of:

  • Daily phonics for 20 minutes.
  • Daily reading of both fiction and non-fiction books that use the phonics taught that week. The vibrant books engage and encourage the children with their decoding, fluency and comprehension.
  • The book goes home every night to be shared with the parents.
  • New vocabulary is introduced weekly.
  • Games ensure the lessons are fun and enjoyable.
  • Writing based on another story.

All other pupils receive at least two shared reading sessions per week, with their class teacher sharing a text with the class whilst overtly modelling the reading skills required to comprehend and absorb the information in the text in a meaningful way. These skills are then assessed in a subsequent small group guided reading session (one per pupil per week), where each pupils’ grasp of targeted reading skill(s) is monitored on a weekly basis. The school adopted the KTC (Knowledge Transfer Centres) programme of teaching and assessing a small number of crucial reading skills in this way in 2016 and we thank the support of local school, Highfields Primary, in starting us on this learning journey.

Reading forms a large part of other lessons across the curriculum, including English. Here, the focus is on unpicking what authors have included and why, with a view to use these to become more effective writers ourselves. These may include (depending on the pupils’ age and stage of education): choices of vocabulary; description; technical application of various grammatical structures; and supplementary features of the text.

All pupils are expected to read for at least 10 minutes at home, at least five times per week. Home reading is rewarded through the collection of stamps which earn certificates, badges and even the occasional off-site trip to meet an author or select new reading materials for the school. Reading Champions are selected by each class each year to monitor home reading, collate records and identify pupils who have earned rewards, allowing for 18 pupils per year to develop within a class leadership role and have a noticeable impact on the learning of peers.

There are many strands to the English curriculum including reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing, grammar, spelling, handwriting, oracy, drama, debate and verbal presentations. There are specific lessons focussed on teaching the skills of reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling and handwriting. These skills are then applied during English lessons as well as other subjects across the curriculum through a variety of learning opportunities carefully and collaboratively planned by year group teams of teachers in order to meet the specific needs of the learners within their classes.

Each English unit (or collection of lessons across approximately 6-week blocks) is often based on a specific story type; features a short ‘model’ text; and applies a number of the concepts championed by Pie Corbett’s ‘Talk 4 Writing’ approach to teaching writing. The model text is often created or adapted by our teams of teachers and includes vocabulary, sentence structures, punctuation and other grammatical features which are to be learnt by the pupils and applied within their own written outcomes. These are taken from the National Curriculum and careful whole-school planning ensures coverage of the KS2 English curriculum objectives during pupils' time with us from year 3 to year 6. CJS pupils learn to write non-fiction text types in response to fictional or fantasy texts before being asked to apply this to writing in, for example, science lessons or project-based learning lessons. This layered approach is designed to help pupils develop understanding and mastery of writing in a given form.

The English teaching and learning unit is broken down into three stages in order to support the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills – the first is Imitation’, where the focus is on rehearsing and internalising the language and structure of the model text whilst unpicking it and understanding the effect it has on the reader. Pupils are supported in doing so through the development of text maps, actions, rehearsal and of course, those crucial skills of collaboration and resilience! The second stage is ‘Innovation’, where pupils begin to play with the model structure in order to swap in their own ideas and begin to apply vocabulary, sentence structures, punctuation and other grammar features as they are learning them. The final stage is ‘Invention’, where pupils are supported in planning and creating their own story of that type, applying what they have learnt over the preceding weeks, often over a number of days and always allowing the opportunity for pupils to revisit their writing, review with peers what works or needs improving, and redrafting accordingly. In this way, we should be equipping all of our pupils with the knowledge of what makes great writing, the understanding of how to apply certain language or features to achieve a specific purpose for a specific audience as well as the technical skills required, including those of reflection and intrinsic motivation to review, redraft and improve… Something all great writers do!

We teach maths in a variety of ways to engage children and help them consolidate their learning.  We use Maths No Problem scheme to support the children's lessons.  This scheme follows a teaching cycle of direct instruction, guided practice, partner teaching and independent tasks.

 Click on the picture below to view the Maths No Problem videos discussed at the recent Maths workshop.

We encourage children in all lessons to use practical equipment (concrete representation), before making drawings and diagrams to show their understanding (pictorial representation).  When children are confident in their understanding they record their calculations in written form for example 12 x 2 = 24 (abstract representation).

This cycle of teaching and learning ensures children are secure with their Maths understanding (mastery curriculum).

We have introduced 'Mathletics' which is an online program. This allows children to complete homework linked to their learning at school in a fun and safe environment.

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?

  • Based on authentic, real world enquiry and links with the community and ‘professional’ experts
  • Work is in depth, based around an essential question
  • Outcomes are expected to be the highest (professional!) standard
  • Progression of skills is tracked and monitored via a rubric, which children should have access to
  • All final outcomes are exhibited

Why teach the new curriculum this way?

  • Engaging and challenging at all levels
  • The children learn real world skills
  • Cross curricular learning
  • Collaborative group work goes hand in hand with the principles of cooperative learning
  • Learning to learn skills (4cs)
    • Critical thinking
    • Communication
    • Creativity
    • Collaboration

Please click on link below to find out more about PBL at Catherine Junior School

 Project Based Learning (PBL)

We are committed to ensure all children study R.E., in preparation for later life.  This encourages a tolerance of all religions and promotes British Values.

  • R.E. is taught as a ‘stand-alone’ subject.
  • We teach from the 2015 Leicester syllabus, which has been approved by all religious groups in Leicester.
  • Additionally, each year the children take part in a celebration assembly performed in front of the whole school and to parents. The assemblies stem from one of the four main religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism.