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The skills and knowledge of the English curriculum are taught

through discrete phonics, reading, writing, spelling lessons and shared storytime. Skills are further developed within the wider curriculum. It is a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding language provides access to the whole curriculum. Through being taught to write and speak fluently, pupils learn to communicate their ideas and emotions to others; through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development hence through our recommended reading books, rich vocabulary is introduced. 


Speaking and Listening

Throughout the school, opportunities to develop pupil’s spoken language in a range of contexts underpins the development of reading and writing. Pupils are encouraged to speak clearly, confidently and with expression in order to communicate their ideas and feelings. They are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.                                            

Pupils develop their ability to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They are encouraged to discuss their ideas in order to make sense of their learning.


The importance of early reading, our approach to teaching phonics

At Burnside phonics is taught through the systematic acquisition of sounds using the synthetic phonics programme, Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc.’

Phonics is the method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and their symbols (graphemes). RWI Phonics lessons begin during summer term in Nursery and following baseline assessments in Reception for those who join from other settings. Early phonics development begins on entry to nursery, including distinguishing between sounds, exploring body percussion, playing with musical instruments, hearing initial sounds and joining in with rhyme activities.


In RWI Phonics lessons children are introduced to 'single sounds' such as /p/, /o/ and practise recognising them, writing them and 'blending' them. 'Blending' is the ability to combine sounds together in order to create a word. Teaching staff ensure all phonemes are pronounced purely, without an additional 'uh' on the end of each sound – known as 'schwa' - which can potentially confuse children when combining the sounds together into words, for example:

/p/ /o/ /t/ = pot        (correct)        
/puh/ /o/ /tuh/ = puhotuh      (incorrect)   


Phonics lessons continue throughout Reception and Key Stage 1 when children are exposed to more complex phonemes such as 'ay' in 'stay' and 'ee' in 'see'.  Pupils are taught that these sounds are called 'digraphs' because 'two letters represent one sound', or 'trigraphs' when 'three letters make one sound' such as /air/ in 'fair'. In order to help children decode each word, dots (for single sounds) and dashes (for digraphs and trigraphs) are marked under words.

 The 'Phonics Screening Check' is taken individually by all children in Year 1 and is designed to give feedback to teachers and parents on how each child is progressing in Phonics. Pupils are asked to read 20 real words and 20 pseudo words, known to the children as 'alien words', in order to ensure children are decoding the words instead of memorising or guessing. ‘Alien words’ are introduced to children in Reception.

The Simple View of Reading theory underpins our approach to early reading according to which confident readers have the ability to:

  • decode a word
  • comprehend the meaning of each word they read

The absence of any of the above skills will result in a child having week reading skills. 

Phonics teaching is accompanied by Read Write Inc ‘Grapheme, Phoneme, Correspondence’ ditty books which are read in buddy-reading pairs and during Guided Reading with the teacher. These books correspond to the sounds that are currently being learned. ‘Read Write Inc Home books’ are sent home to further consolidate the learned sound and increase pupils’ success with reading. Gradually, pupils are exposed to a variety of texts which build their comprehension skills and their vocabulary throughout the curriculum. As a result of this, children become confident readers early on and shift from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’


Whole Class Teaching of Reading 

Once children are fluent readers and/or from the Summer term in Year 2, teachers use the whole class teaching of reading approach to teach reading comprehension. Teachers choose a high-quality, ‘beautiful’ text for these lessons which ideally links to what is being taught at the same time in the curriculum and contains a number of words which are unknown to the children.  

An example structure for the whole class teaching of reading is set out below: 


Book Introduction 

This provides the context for the reading. The teacher will present the cover of the text  to activate children’s prior knowledge and discuss the main themes of the text, including some prediction of the contents. 

Explicit teaching of vocabulary 

Teachers skim the text to find words which the children are unlikely to understand. They teach these words . 

Reading the text 

The teacher reads a chapter or section aloud to the children while they follow along. The children should be able to notice and explain words they come across that have been pre-taught.  

Teaching of a reading skill through the text

The teacher will explicitly teach a skill, such as summarising, using the book. They will model how to use evidence from the text and provide children with the opportunity to write a shared response to a question. 

 Individual application of a skill 

The teacher sets a task for each child to complete based on the skill that they have taught. This may be scaffolded for some children and extended further for others. The teacher will work with a particular group to support or extend their understanding.  


Reading Plus

Children in Key Stage Two have daily Reading Plus sessions to improve reading efficiency. When children can read efficiently it frees up mental energy to further comprehend and gain enjoyment from reading. Reading Plus is on online reading programme, which supports children to become curious, confident, lifelong readers. It accelerates each child’s reading achievement through personalised instruction and intervention. It teaches silent reading fluency, comprehension and vocabulary with software that meets each child’s individual reading level. Weekly assignments are set with personalised instructions for pupils, these include visual skills development for eye-tracking, reading tasks for comprehension and fluency, and vocabulary tasks. Children have a personal login to access Reading Plus at home.



From Nursery through to Year 6, every class has a daily storytime session. Children listen to a range of stories, poems and non-fiction texts which have been carefully chosen to develop children’s knowledge of the world around them, to build knowledge of vocabulary and establish an appreciation and love of reading. 



We follow the 'PenPals for Handwriting' scheme from Nursery to Year 6. In Nursery the main focus is on developing early gross and fine motor control. Reception children begin to use the scheme alongside RWI mnemonics to learn letter shapes. Children are introduced to joins at the end of Year one and then time is given to practise joins in each year before developing own handwriting style in upper Key Stage 2.



Children from Year 2 to Year 6 are given spellings to learn each week for a spelling test. Spellings are taken from the spelling lists in the National Curriculum. 

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