St George the Martyr CE

Primary School

‘Go shine in the world and live as Jesus did with compassion, honesty and integrity.’

English - how we learn to read and write

Curriculum Design

We know that language and literacy are fundamental to the overall development of our children and their access to the curriculum.

We aim to deliver quality teaching of basic and higher order reading, writing, speaking and listening skills to enable our children to become confident and successful in their literacy.

We want children to be able to talk about what they have learned in a knowledgeable and articulate way, using their ‘public voice’.

In all classes, children have a wide range of abilities, and we seek to provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies. In some lessons, we do it through differentiated group work, while in others we ask children to work from the same starting point before moving on to develop their own ideas. We use support staff to support some children and to enable work to be matched to the needs of individuals.


We aim

  • to encourage children to listen with concentration, in order to identify the main points of what they have heard;
  • to show children how to adapt their speech to a wide range of circumstances and demands;
  • to teach children effective communication, both verbal and non-verbal, through a variety of drama activities;
  • for pupils to understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately;
  • for pupils to be able to read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding, enabling children to communicate effectively;
  • for pupils to know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction, non-fiction and poetry;
  • for pupils to be interested in books, read with enjoyment, and evaluate and justify their preferences;
  • for pupils to develop fluent and legible handwriting.


Teaching reading through phonics

Ofsted say…

In order to become fluent readers, pupils need:

  • Daily instruction through phonics teaching
  • Planned opportunities to practise what they have been taught


Examples of practice:

  • Reading books which are matched to their phonic knowledge
  • Re-reading these books so that they build up a bank of words that can be read automatically


(NEYH, introduction to curriculum series 13 May 2021)


 Little Wandle Letters and Sounds revised


Foundations for phonics in Nursery

  • We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
    • sharing high-quality stories and poems;
    • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes;
    • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending;
    • attention to high-quality language.
  • We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.


Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

  • We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
  • Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
  • We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
    • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
    • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


Daily Keep-Up lessons ensure every child learns to read

  • Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-Up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-Up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
  • We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-Up resources – at pace.
  • If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.


Teaching reading: Reading Practice sessions five times a week

  • We teach children to read through reading practice sessions five times a week. These:
    • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children;
    • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’;
    • are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
  • Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
    • 2 x decoding lessons;
    • 1 x prosody lesson: teaching children to read with understanding and expression;
    • 2 x comprehension lessons: teaching children to understand the text.
  • In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
  • Throughout the school, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.


Reading in KS2 (Destination Reader) Y3-Y6

Destination Reader is an approach to teaching reading at KS2, which can be applied to all texts. Its main focus is on:

  • Key reading strategies which support comprehension;
  • Learning behaviours which support dialogue.

The class teacher uses class texts (see curriculum map) to teach the children different reading strategies. The children are initially taught one strategy at a time. Reading strategies are combined once the children have a secure understanding of each of them.

The reading strategies

  1. Predicting
  2. Inferring
  3. Clarifying
  4. Asking questions
  5. Evaluating
  6. Making connections
  7. Summarising


Learning behaviours

  1. Support and actively listen to others
  2. Discuss and explain our ideas
  3. Take responsibility for our own/partner’s learning


Structure of a Destination Reader lesson (45 minutes)

Before reading (15 minutes)

  • Quick recap of learning behaviours
  • Introduce or revise strategy (refer to sentence stems on Destination Reader strategy prompt)
  • Teacher displays new vocabulary from the text which cannot be clarified by using the strategies
  • Teacher models strategy through ‘think aloud’ with displayed text
  • Mixed ability partners practise the strategy


Independent reading (20 minutes)

  • Partner or independent reading focusing on the strategy where possible (teachers listen in and support children with using the strategy prompts)
  • Children underline any tricky vocabulary


After reading (5 minutes)

  • Share good examples of reading strategies
  • Short written response (not every day) to apply the spoken strategy into writing – statement, question, vocab etc.
  • Clarify tricky vocabulary (using dictionary if necessary)
  • Children reflect on their use of the learning behaviours while you embed them.
  • New vocabulary is added to the destination reader display (see example of Destination Reader display)


After reading- written response

There are 3 different types of short written responses.

  1. a pupil written response e.g. I predict that… because… (written straight into Destination Reader books)
  2. a verbal response in a class or small group discussion
  3. a vocabulary check on words (see example below)



  • The written responses should be recorded in the Reading Journal books.
  • The responses allow the children to apply the oral strategies from the lesson in writing.
  • Written responses form the plenary of a DR lesson and should be directly linked to the discussions and strategies from the lesson. Children spend no more than 5 minutes on short written responses.


 Assessing pupils’ levels of attainment in reading

  • In EYFS children are assessed against the Early Learning Goals through observations and assessment during Reading Practice sessions. 
  • In Year 2 children are assessed during Reading Practice sessions and using Reading comprehension SATs tests. Assessment judgments are made using the KS1 Interim Framework statements for reading and the school’s Assessment Statements.
  • Reception – Year 5 children are assessed during the assessment windows using the Nelson PM Benchmark assessments. Assessment judgements are made using the school’s Assessment Statements.
  • Year 6 children are assessed monthly using previous year’s reading comprehension SATs papers. Assessment judgements are made using the KS2 Interim Framework statements for reading and the school’s Assessment Statements.


Developing independent reading

Each week children take home the books outlined in the table below.

Not yet proficient in phonics

Proficient in phonics

1x Little Wandle book


1x sharing book from the class library, chosen by the child to share with an adult or more able reader.



1x sharing book from the class library, chosen by the child to share with an adult or more able reader.


1x book at the child’s reading level chosen from the class library under guidance from the class library.



These children record their reading in their reading record independently – the date of reading, title of the novel, how many pages they have read and a comment. This record is monitored by the class teacher daily to check the amount read by the child and suitable choice of book.


Celebrating Our Children’s Success as Readers

We believe that it is important to celebrate our children’s successes as readers at home and, through our home reading rewards system children’s efforts are recognised and celebrated. Each week, the number of completed reading records are counted up and the class with the highest percentage, gets the reading trophy in their classroom for the week. They also get a special mention on the weekly newsletter to parents.


Teaching writing

Implementation of our writing curriculum

The implementation of our English curriculum is greatly supported by carefully structured unit plans, leading pupils through component knowledge and skills to composite knowledge and skills in all subjects.


Our pedagogical approach is based on Rosenshine’s Principles of Direct Instruction. The clarity and simplicity of this approach supports teachers to engage with cognitive science and the wider world of educational research.


The Principles of Direct Instruction

  1. Daily Review
  2. Present new material using small steps
  3. Ask questions
  4. Provide models
  5. Guide student practice
  6. Check for student understanding
  7. Obtain a high success rate
  8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
  9. Independent practice
  10. Weekly and monthly review


In our school, there is a strong emphasis on the teaching of writing. The English curriculum has been developed to ensure high quality texts are used to enable children to produce good writing.

The writing genre, book titles and writing outcomes are specified on the curriculum maps. The writing outcomes ensure that the teachers are very clear on what the children need to produce at the end of every week.

An overview of each unit (unit plan) gives the teacher a clear outline of the progression of lessons.


What a week of English teaching looks like

Monday – Reading comprehension – lessons are linked to text (i.e. immersion into the text, role play, drama, responding to a text, identifying features of a text).


Tuesday- Reading comprehension – lessons are linked to text (i.e. immersion into the text, role play, drama, responding to a text, identifying features of a text).


Wednesday- Writing - vocabulary, grammar and punctuation (see section on grammar).


Thursday- Writing composition - planning


Friday- Writing composition - writing and editing.


The following text types are taught throughout the year:


Reception: instructions (recipes), recounts (retelling stories, things they have done), narrative writing and made up stories.

KS1: Narrative: retelling stories, writing in role, writing sequels to stories, descriptive writing, poetry and comics. Non-fiction: author studies, newspaper reports, report writing and instructions.

KS2: Narrative: retelling stories, writing in role, descriptive writing, writing extended versions of stories, writing prequels, poetry, diary entries, action and adventure stories. Non-fiction: persuasive texts, letters, discursive texts, reports, explanations, recounts and emails.

Alan Peat: Children are taught Alan Peat ‘Super Sentences’. The sentences help children to use a wide variation of sentence types and punctuation in their writing.

Independent writing

  • The modelled writing is covered over (the first sentence can be left in order if the children need this to get them started).
  • The teacher/support staff may work with a focus group to encourage children to create sentences from their plan and orally rehearse them by.
  • The teacher circulates the classroom assessing the children’s work and identifying misconceptions.
  • Misconceptions are addressed through mini-plenaries and ‘up-levelling’ children’s work as a class by displaying it under the visualiser.
  • The children are regularly asked to read their work aloud to themselves and self-assess against the ‘steps to success’ in order to see what they need to do to improve when they continue writing again.


Developing independence in everyday writing

  • Teach children to sound out words.
  • Teach children to use sound and word mats and super sentences mats.
  • Teach children to use working walls to support them.
  • Teach children to write during ‘bursts of silence’.
  • Teach children to focus on the success criteria when writing.
  • Teach children to self-assess against success criteria.
  • Teach children to use punctuation marks
  • Teach children to write different sentence types (we call these ‘super sentences’) through Alan Peat materials.


Using working walls to support writing

  • Each class has a writing display showing the grammar children are expected to be using in that year group.
  • Teachers may display ‘writing prompts’ of what children should remember to do to be independent writers.
  • Teachers write good models of handwritten work and display on walls.


Independent writing in Reception – child initiated learning

  • In Reception, children develop enjoyment and confidence in writing through the teacher sharing and praising independent writing every day.
  • The Reception classroom has a writing table set up with a variety of different types of paper, cards, booklets and writing tools. The resources and display are set up in an appealing way in order to encourage children to choose to write.
  • Reception children can access the writing table when they are ‘choosing’ (engaged in child initiated learning). 
  • The writing table has a ‘writing basket’ where children put their completed writing.
  • In the last 10 minutes of every day, the Reception teacher shares the writing from the writing basket under the visualiser.
  • Children are praised for their writing and the teacher shares ways in which writing can be improved e.g. correct letter formation, sounding out words etc. 


Assessing pupils’ level of attainment in writing.

  • Teacher’s level writing against the statements during guided writing sessions. This work is mainly aided. Teachers write a next step comment on the children’s work. This is something the child has been asked to correct. The children respond to this comment at the start of the following lesson.
  • Twice a year, before Pupil Progress Checkpoint meetings with the Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Senco, class teachers assess writing.
  • All teachers attend Camden moderation sessions, where writing samples are discussed and levelled. We also invite the LDBS Literacy consultant to meet teachers individually to discuss and moderate summer term writing samples.



Parent and carers guide to pronouncing phonemes

Home and school guide for pronouncing phonemes. Watch to find out how to pronounce the sounds we use in the school.