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Rickmansworth Park Junior Mixed and Infant School

English - Natalie Catalano



How long have you been the subject leader?



I have been leading literacy for over four years

What are your strengths as Literacy subject leader?

I have always had a fascination for language. As a child I was always writing – stories, reports, invitations, lists, anything!

Language is all around us. English is woven into every aspect of our lives. From the moment we wake up, we are exposed to language: oral or written, it is everywhere. It conveys meaning and we can manipulate it to create whatever effect we desire: it can take us to other worlds, it can instruct us, or it can persuade. In the classroom, I try to convey this power of language to the children and in providing CPD for staff I endeavour to share my passion and assist in any way I can in the provision of ideas and resources. Language is far more than mere communication: it is a key to every aspect of life.

Give examples of the impact you have had on the quality of teaching and learning/ standards?

I regularly observe Literacy lessons from Y2 – Y6 and give feedback to colleagues. Termly, I observe all our phonics lessons alongside a visiting consultant. Best practice is shared and teachers actively seek to embed this in their teaching. I undertake regular book scrutinies that inform our whole school marking policy. The aim is for marking to be minimal but highly impactful for the children’s progress. We now have literacy books across the school that show clear progress.

What are the key strengths in this subject?


The schemes of work we use are well resourced, fast paced, engaging and evidence-based. They are backed up by regular visits from two Literacy consultants who are experts in their field. The consultants both observe practice across the whole school and help us to set targets to keep the school moving forward. They also provide us with an invaluable update service on developments in the teaching of phonics. Pupils at our school benefit, above all, from literacy lessons delivered by the highest quality teaching staff, whether this is in whole class work, in small groups or on a 1-1 basis. Outcomes in literacy are above the national average.

What areas for development have you identified in this subject?


Reading comprehension remains a challenge for many children as the nuances of language can, at times, be lost on all but the most prolific readers. We will continue to provide regular, individual or small group intervention for children whose reading (we feel) needs a boost. Teachers read whole class books in class each day and a genuine love of reading is promoted across the school.

How do you know how well pupils are achieving?


Most of our children are known to most of our staff and in discussions we are able to identify any learning needs early on. As subject leader, I carry out regular book scrutinies and learning walks. At the end of each literacy unit children undertake reading and writing tasks. Children who we feel are not making the expected progress are identified and provision is put in place to support them. Pupil voice questionnaires show that children enjoy literacy, feel they achieve well and know how to improve their learning. I undertake phonics checks of all children in KS1 every six weeks so that phonics groups can be adjusted to meet the evolving needs of individuals. Monitoring shows that our children are achieving above the national standard. Last year in the Y1 national phonics screening programme, 100% of our children passed. Outcomes of children in KS2 are consistently above national average.

How does the school meet the needs of all groups within this subject?


Class teachers have a thorough understanding of the ability range in their class. Support for focus groups and individuals that require extra help is provided through 1:1 sessions with TAs and/or extra scaffolding in class in order to reach desired outcomes in independent tasks. Children who grasp new ideas more easily are set tasks which encourage them to demonstrate their understanding in different ways.

What knowledge do Governors have about your subject? How have they been involved in your subject?

Governors have attended Literacy Open Mornings and seen the impressive range of lessons taught across the school. I have made presentations to the Full Governing Body in order to explain our provision, expectations and outcomes. Governors are given opportunities during these presentations to look at a range of EYFS, KS1 and KS2 literacy books, focusing on both progress and presentation. Feedback from Governors has always been incredibly positive.