At Finstall First School, we believe that English is a significant life skill and that the development of strong learning foundations will enable our children to listen, speak, read and write confidently throughout their school career and on into adult life. We believe that it is important to foster an enthusiasm for, and appreciation of, the different strands of literacy in a  broad, cross-curricular and real-life sense at all stages throughout the school.

 Intent                                                                                                 At Finstall First School we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. One of our priorities is helping children read and develop their all-important comprehension skills. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning.

We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.

These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework, that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study.

 At Finstall First School, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can. Teachers plan and teach English lessons which are differentiated to the particular needs of each child.  We help each child maximise their potential by providing help and support where necessary whilst striving to make children independent workers once we have helped to equip them with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need.

Marking is rigorous in English and across the curriculum, with regular ‘Response Times’ and spelling corrections to help children correct and consolidate their work. Regular English book scrutinies are carried out to check all teachers are following our marking policy rigorously.

 Impact                                                                                               The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. Termly assessment is showing that most children at Finstall First School are achieving in Writing and Reading at age-related expectations.  Each year we have children achieving at greater depth in reading and writing at the end of KS1 and are working hard to emulate that at the end of KS2.  As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.

We hope that as children move on from Finstall First School to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.


In English, there are three main focus areas:

    Speaking and Listening


    Writing (including Spelling & Handwriting)

During Key Stage 1 (Years R – 2), pupils learn to speak confidently and listen to what others have to say. They begin to read and write independently and with enthusiasm. They use language to explore their own experiences and imaginary worlds.

During Key Stage 2 (Years 3 – 4 at Finstall), pupils learn to adapt and develop the way they speak and write to suit different situations. They read a range of texts and respond to different layers of meaning in them. They explore the use of language in literary and non-literary texts and learn how language works.

 The Structure of the Daily English Lesson

We make full use of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for English (2014) to aid our teaching in this area. This is supplemented by cross-curricular topic work. Typical aspects of lessons include the following:

  • Whole class shared reading and writing activities using a variety of interesting texts;
  • Whole class work concentrating on phonics, spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting;
  • Group work, including guided reading and writing sessions with the teacher, using books appropriate to the children’s abilities.
  • Time for independent work including extended writing, the length of which will be determined by the age and ability of the children.
  • A plenary session when the children are reminded about the day’s learning targets and which allows time for the children to report back on their work.

This is supplemented by cross-curricular topic work.

 Reading The school places a high degree of importance on the teaching of reading. We have a wealth of resources including Big Books, reading schemes and an excellent reference library. Those who experience difficulties are given special attention through the school’s SEN policy. Silent reading as a whole school activity is carried out and ‘reading partners’ are set up whereby older children partner younger children, offering help and encouragement. We encourage home-school links by using a reading record diary for each child and a reading target bookmark to highlight areas for development.

 Writing    Writing is closely related to reading. The two activities reinforce each other. It is important that pupils learn to write independently from an early stage. The teaching of phonics, spelling and handwriting complements this process and are used to support writing and build up accuracy and speed. Correct letter formation is taught from the beginning and joined handwriting is taught from Year 2. Later on, pupils are shown how to plan, draft, revise and proof read their work.

Children are taught to punctuate their work correctly using the most essential punctuation marks.


Great emphasis is placed on spelling within English lessons. The children are required to learn selected words, which support their reading and writing activities. Spellings are given each week and regular spelling tests are used to check children’s progress.

The children at Finstall First School follow a non cursive script handwriting scheme in Reception and Year 1 that runs alongside, and supports, the ELS phonics scheme. From Year 2, children then follow a Cursive Script Handwriting scheme.  Handwriting is a skill which, like reading and spelling, affects all written communication across the curriculum. Children should be able to write with ease, speed and legibility. Cursive handwriting teaches pupils to join letters and words as a series of flowing movements and patterns. Cursive writing is also closely linked to good spelling. At the end of KS2 children can only be judged to be within the ‘working at’ or ‘working at greater depth’ standards if their handwriting is cursive and neat.
Below are examples of the handwriting joins that we teach and a link to website.
English Learning Objectives by Year Group
ELS Phonic Scheme in Reception and Year 1

Following an update from the Department for Education around phonics teaching we have moved to Essential Letters and Sounds, this is a phonics programme based on Letters and Sounds (2007). This new phonics programme will support your children in making quick progress to become fluent and confident readers.

To best support us in teaching your child to read, we ask that you read the decodable text provided by the school four times across the week. Spending 10 minutes a day reading with your child will hugely support them on their journey to becoming an independent reader.

Children’s books in Reception and Year 1 are changed once a week, on Fridays. This will allow your child to re-read each text several times, building their confidence and fluency. This is especially important as they begin to learn that the sounds within our language can be spelled in different ways. Please watch this video for more information on how to use the ELS books effectively at home and how to record your child's reading:  How to record reading with your child 

For children, re-reading words and sentences that they can decode (sound out) until they are fluent (read with ease and precision) is a key part of learning to read. By reading texts several times, children have the greatest opportunity to achieve this fluency.

The 'I read' texts sent home are carefully matched to the teaching taking place in school. Your child will be practising what they have been taught in school with you at home. We will only ask children to read books independently when they can decode these by themselves.

Any books that are not yet decodable for the children will be sent home as a sharing 'read with me' book. These books will be sent home for you to read with your child, helping us to instil a love of reading from the very beginning of their reading journey. These could be read together with your child reading the words they are able to decode or could be read to your child.

Reading at Home
ELS phonics- how to support your child in Reception and Key Stage 1

Supporting Reading at Home:

  • Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
  • We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
  • We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

                Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

                Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

                Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!

We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.

More support for parents and carers can be found here:


These videos say the 'pure' sound with the 'rhyme' that we learn as part of our ELS scheme.
Phase 2 pronunciation video https://vimeo.com/753929025/5eaa45c0aa
Phase 3 pronunciation video https://vimeo.com/753931102/b9a2f8194f
Worksheets to Download
Useful Websites