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The Federation of St Mary’s Catholic Schools is a secure, friendly and faith-centred community where we seek to realise the full potential of all our family through the living love of Christ. All our work with children and their families, staff, governors, parishioners and the wider community is influenced by our core values which are: Compassion, Respect and Resilience.

Our English curriculum is built on ensuring our children have an excellent moral compass. All texts are chosen carefully to ensure we raise the profile of diversity and inclusivity and respect. By providing a range of exciting learning opportunities, our children flourish in our English curriculum. The children are inspired to read, write, speak and listen and they know that they can make a difference when using the skills and knowledge they learn in their English lessons.

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The purpose of our Arches Curriculum is to ensure that our children are successful in life and learning. The ‘Nine Arches’ Sankey Viaduct in Newton-le-Willows has been the inspiration for our curriculum.  The viaduct was built by George Stephenson between 1828 and 1830 and the bridge, built to let trains cross above the Sankey Canal, has international significance as the world’s earliest major railway viaduct still in use.

The ‘Nine Arches’ signifies excellence in engineering that is still successful.  Our curriculum is designed to show our children that our ambitious curriculum will offer them rewards for the future. As a school, our curriculum sets high expectations for each and every child, meaning that we are relentless in our commitment to overcoming barriers faced by our pupils and to developing children to be resilient and self-motivated in their pursuit of learning.

With Christ at the heart and encompassing our Mission Statement, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” we provide a high-quality education within a creative, stimulating, encouraging and mutually supportive environment where children are enabled to develop the skills they require to become successful in English.

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Through the ‘ambitious’ curriculum driver we want our children to ensure that every child meets the highest expectations of which they are    possible. Despite the challenges of barriers or background, we ensure that every child at St Mary’s is a reader. 

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Through the ‘resilience’ curriculum driver, we promote optimism and determination in English. We have the highest of expectations in all areas of English: reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, speaking and listening. Our high expectations and aspirational English curriculum encourage children to be resilient learners. Through next step marking and purposeful feedback in English, children have opportunities each day to edit and improve their work thus promoting resilience.  

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As a Catholic school, our Gospel values and the teachings of Jesus Christ are at the centre of all our learning in English. We choose high-quality texts that enable every child to be the best version of themselves in the likeness of God. 

We aim to develop children who will follow the example of Christ and who will have the confidence to go out into the world acting upon the word of Jesus and changing the world accordingly.

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At St Mary’s we understand that happiness is linked to personal growth, health and development. We ensure our children are happy, healthy individuals. 

Our English curriculum content encompasses quality texts pertaining to wellbeing. We create a love of reading including daily DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) from Y1 – Y6. Our Catholic values are woven throughout each quality text. With ‘wellbeing’ as a curriculum driver, we give children the confidence to thrive in a diverse, global society and be respectful citizens with British and Catholic values at the core. 

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Through the ‘excellence’ curriculum driver, we aim to achieve the highest possible standards in behaviour, progress and achievement in English. 

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Through the ‘success’ curriculum driver, we aim to help to develop children who are confident in all aspects of the English curriculum (Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening) to enable them to become successful individuals. 

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Being a great reader, writer, speaker and listener means that disciplinary and substantive knowledge complement each other harmoniously. All areas of English are high profile within our curriculum. We ensure there are always opportunities to enhance English in all areas of the curriculum. Texts studied in English are mostly linked to other areas of the curriculum. Each text has been chosen for a reason and serves a purpose. Children have reading, writing and (where appropriate) phonics lessons daily. 


The National Curriculum’s overarching aims for English is to ‘promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command’ of our language. It also aims to develop the enjoyment of reading and literature by opening up their experiences.  

The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils can do the following: 

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading
  • Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.

The National Curriculum programmes of study for Reading at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions, word reading and comprehension (both listening and reading). 

It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each. 

At St Mary’s, we know that skilled word reading means decoding unfamiliar words at an appropriate speed and word recognition of familiar words, also at speed. The underpinning knowledge of letter recognition and the linking of graphemes and phonemes through phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners when they start school. 

We develop good comprehension skills, drawing from linguistic knowledge, knowledge of the world and a deep and varied vocabulary. A wide range of high-quality texts and questioning builds the skills needed to make exceptional readers. Pupils are encouraged to read widely across fiction, non-fiction and poetry, developing their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum, increasing their vocabulary as they encounter words they rarely hear or use in everyday speech.  

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VALUED - We value vocabulary in every subject and it underpins everything we do. 
IDENTFIED - Vocabulary across subjects is identified by Subject Leaders and is explicitly planned for. Vocabulary is identified in each text within lessons.
TAUGHT - Vocabulary is explicitly taught in every lesson: exploiting grammar opportunities, word classes, context, definitions, synonyms and antonyms.
APPLIED - Once vocabulary is taught, it is applied. Children apply their vocabulary in their speaking and listening, writing and assessment outcomes.
LEARNED - Vocabulary is revisited and relearned. Vocabulary sticks in the children’s long-term memory.


Through an ‘explosion of experiences’, our youngest readers, writers, speakers and listeners are exposed to the foundations of their English learning. Carefully planned English experiences are provided for our children. High quality lessons, stories and rhymes and continuous provision in EYFS provides the building blocks for our St Mary’s English students. Vocabulary is planned for and staff ensure children are exposed to the correct terminology when exploring experiences that have links with reading, writing, speaking and listening. Staff are role models in demonstrating vocabulary and this is further enhanced in our excellent provision. The foundations of English learning in EYFS is linked to Year 1 and beyond. 


Both staff and children are enthusiastic about English. Through ongoing CPD, we strive to ensure our teachers have expert knowledge of the English they teach. Our pedagogy is firmly based upon our curriculum intent of embedding concepts into long-term memory so that they are able to be recalled and to ensure substantive and disciplinary knowledge and skills can be applied fluently.

Our teaching model ensures that lessons are effectively sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and towards defined end points.

Every area of English has a St Mary’s structure to ensure there is consistency across school. All pedagogical structures are based on research and what our children need.

Phonics and Early Reading – Read Write Inc Phonics

Writing – Explore, Practise, Compose

Guided Reading – St Mary’s structure

English lessons are carefully linked with other curriculum subjects to enhance learning in all subjects and to avoid cognitive overload. Our lessons are scaffolded to ensure that all learners have access to a full English curriculum. If appropriate, these lessons are modified to meet the needs to the individual.

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We understand that we may not see the true impact of our English curriculum on our children as our English curriculum is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning. 

Our well-constructed and well-taught English curriculum leads to great outcomes. At St Mary’s, our philosophy is that broad and balanced leads to great outcomes and meeting end points at the end of each key stage. National assessments are useful indicators of the outcomes our children achieve.  

We ensure all groups of children are given the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. We strive to ensure that our children are equipped with the skills (through a growth mindset approach) to fluently be able to retrieve key facts from their semantic memory. 

The quality of our children’s work, at every stage, is of a high standard. All learning is built towards an end point and at each stage of their education, we prepare our children for the next stage. 

We ensure all our children are fluent in reading, writing and speaking to a stage appropriate level.  

The impact of St Mary’s English curriculum is measured through the following: 

  • Assessment 
  • National test data
  • Pupil voice 
  • Progress evident in children’s books and record of experiences
  • Seeking views of parents where appropriate


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