St Columba's Straw

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Language and Literacy

in St. Columba’s
  • In our school we love and celebrate reading

    From the first days in P1 we aim to foster a love of books. Reading/library packs are sent home with P1 pupils so that they can share stories with family members.

    We facilitate a very popular Paired Reading Programme whereby P7 pupils read to P1 pupils and P6 pupils read to P2 pupils. We believe that parents play a vital role in the education process.

  • We offer an informative Induction programme for new parents

    This includes workshops on Phonics, Reading, Writing and Talking and Listening.

    Teachers plan lessons based around a fantastic range of popular Big Books in P1- P3 classes. This extends into Novel Based Learning in P4-P7. This year we invested another £1500 to update and enhance our Novels in school.

    We are an Accelerated Reading School

  • Accelerated Reader (AR) produces an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year while prompting reading for pleasure

    Over the past 2 years we have invested upwards on £3000 on Accelerated Reading and our pupils are reaping the rewards. We have:

    • Two bespoke libraries
    • A huge range of fiction and non-fiction books for pupils from P1-P7
    • 40 ipads, 10 PC’s and 10 laptops on which pupils can take quizzes and Star tests. This means that parents, pupils and teachers can keep track of progress in reading.
    • 20-30 minutes every day dedicated to reading.
    • Amazing reward systems and celebrations for success and effort
  • Library Workshops

    We have established links with our local library in Draperstown. Our pupils regularly visit the library for workshops, talks and simply for enjoyment.

    The NEELB Mobile Library van visits our school each term to enhance our range of fiction, non-fiction and audio-visual resources relating to our topics.

    The Scholastic book fair visit is a highlight of the year for our little book lovers plus our school benefits from any sales made during the fair.

    In our school we use the Jolly Phonics Programme to teach Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary from P1 right through to P7. We have found that pupils learn best through this multisensory, cumulative and structured phonics programme.

    • Every year we celebrate World Book Day. Pupils and staff dress up as favourite book characters,
      we have story-telling sessions and lots of fun activities.
      This year the Gruffalo came to visit!

  • You learn to write better by reading. You learn to read better by writing. Reading and writing work together to improve your ability to think.

    Right from the emerging scribbles of our P1’s through to the more elaborate prose of our P7’s, our pupils are guided, supported and commended for their writing.

    Our pupils are taught how to read and write in a wide range of genres such as letter writing, report writing, persuasive writing etc. In teaching these styles of writing we are giving our pupils real ‘life skills’.

    We undertake projects associated with the Belfast Telegraph and Irish News newspapers every year to develop Writing skills and give our pupils a range of genres to experience.

    We believe that encouraging children to write stories of their own can give them an enormous confidence boost, as well as helping them to consolidate their literacy learning by putting their phonics, grammar and reading skills into practice.

    This June we are excited about a visit from the renowned children’s author Stuart Reid! Stuart will spend a full day in our school giving presentations and working with our pupils to help them to become creative writers. We hope that his visit will inspire us all.

    Our pupils love to enter competitions and have been able to celebrate many successes from the INTO Handwriting Competition to the Young Writers’ Competition and various story writing competitions.

    Research has shown the importance of the link between spoken language, learning and cognitive development. Through using language and hearing how others use it, children become able to describe the world, make sense of life’s experiences and get things done.

    We aim to foster and promote good talking and listening skills right from P1. Four members of our staff have ELKLAN training. ELKLAN deliver courses for staff working with pupils with Speech, language and Communication needs.

  • Every pupil in our school is encouraged to participate in Public Speaking regularly. This begins with Show and tell experiences in P1 and continues with opportunities to speak at Assemblies, Masses, shows, Christmas concerts and Feises. In class, teachers facilitate varied talking and listening experiences such as group work, talking buddies, presentations, reading aloud, role-play, hot-seating, conscience alley etc.

    St. Columba’s School Council is made up of two elected children from each class and is a platform for voicing the interests, ideas, concerns and needs of all the pupils in our school. The talking and listening experiences gained from these student council meetings, consultations and presentations is invaluable in preparing our pupils for the world of work.

    ICT plays a major role in all curricular areas. We use a variety of ICT to enhance the teaching and learning of Literacy. Every classroom is equipped with a state of the art Interactive Whiteboard and we use our 40 ipads, 10 PC’s and 10 laptops to ensure that our pupils are able to use Accelerated Reading quizzes and tests, Lexia programme, Education City, Microsoft word, publisher and many other programmes, websites and apps.

    Two teachers in our school are qualified AMBDA tutors. (Associate Members of British Dyslexia Association). These teachers are qualified to the highest standard and are accredited to train other teachers in how to identify, assess and diagnose dyslexia. These teachers are able to put in place individualised intervention programmes specifically tailored to the needs of the pupil. Having these teachers on our staff is an invaluable asset to all of the pupils in our school and in particular those with Dyslexic tendencies.

    We also have a trained Reading Recovery teacher in our school who provides training, guidance and support to all staff.

    In St. Columba’s we differentiate all of our lessons to meet the needs of all our learners. We track pupil progress very closely and offer Booster Groups for any children who would benefit from additional support or revision. We use an online programme called Lexia to support pupils who need support with phonics and reading.