English Curriculum

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Phonics and Early Reading

We believe that reading is the key to success and underpins children’s access to the curriculum; it clearly impacts on their achievement. To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. Phonic decoding skills must be practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established. 

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) and it is the programme that we adopt at Priory School. We prioritise the teaching of phonics; we teach phonics daily in Year R and Year 1.

Children need to learn to read as quickly and reasonably as possible, so that they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn, giving them access to the treasure house of reading. Children who are not keeping pace with their peers are given additional practice through keep-up sessions. Children in Year 2 (and above) who are not yet confident with phonics are given rapid catch-up sessions.

Children enjoy a range of multi-sensory resources to support their phonics learning. On-going assessment of children’s progress takes place and the books children read in school and take home to read are fully decodable and matched to children’s secure phonics knowledge. 

As well as fully decodable books, children take home a non-decodable ‘reading for pleasure’ book that can be either read to or with them. These books play an essential role in developing a love of reading; an important distinction is that these books are being shared with the children, but they are using fully phonically decodable books to practise their independent reading.

Little Wandle phonics progression in Reception and Year 1

Parent phonics presentation


At Priory School, we aim to equip all children with: 

  • a love for reading and stories throughout their school journey; reading books not just to gather information but also for pleasure.
  • a strong foundation for early reading with high-quality, consistent teaching of phonics, developing independent and resilient readers right from the Early Years.
  • a culture of reading where books, reading and reading practice and learning new vocabulary are prioritised. 
  • regular opportunities to practise key elements of reading to develop fluency, prosody and comprehension.
  • an appreciation for a diverse range of literature, text types and different authors.
  • skills, knowledge and confidence to analyse and talk about books, as well as take part in and lead discussions about a text.
  • skills of comprehension, learning new vocabulary, making inferences, predicting, explaining, retrieving information and summarising.

In Reception and Year 1 we follow the Little Wandle scheme. In Year 2 – Year 6 we use a whole class reading and journaling approach.

The School has a small library, which we try to keep regularly stocked with new titles following Book Fair Days and generous donations. All children have a reading challenge diary and are expected to read daily.

Our bookworm reading badges

Reading Progression of Skills

Reading skills are tracked carefully and our progression documents can be found below:

How to support reading at home

This advice is from Booktrust.org.uk

  • Set aside some time
    Find somewhere quiet without any distractions – turn off the TV/radio/computer.
  • Ask your child to choose a book
    Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
  • Sit close together
    Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
  • Point to the pictures
    If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Encourage your child to talk about the book
    Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
  • And lastly, above all – make it fun!
    It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices – children love this!

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

At the Priory School, we follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation.

  • To implement the spelling curriculum, we also follow the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling scheme from Year 2 to Year 6. All teachers must use this scheme when planning spelling sessions. 
  • Joined writing will be encouraged to support spelling and motor memory (Year 2 onwards).
  • Children will be provided with a Spelling Journal which will be primarily used to record personal spellings, vocabulary choices and grammar and punctuation notes. This will be used as a reference point or resource for children during the writing process as well as for practising spellings.
  • Children will receive two discrete half-hour ‘core skills’ slots each week for spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation related activities
  • The teaching of spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation will be mainly taught in conjunction with reading and writing related activities taught during reading and talk for writing lessons.

Progression of Skills in SPAG (Spelling and Grammar)


Talk for Writing Strategy

Talk For Writing is the school’s strategy for core English teaching. It starts from the premise that children will be unable to write a sentence unless they can say a sentence. You can’t create from nothing – you need to be given the language tools and story frameworks in order to invent your own.

At its heart, ‘Talk for Writing’ starts with enjoying and sharing stories. Children learn to tell a story off by heart. They tell the story with expression and actions. Once a story is learnt, the children are encouraged to adapt it to make it their own, for example by changing the characters or the setting. As they get more confident, rather than simply changing elements of the story, they can manipulate and combine different genres and text types to create something new.

Class 5 learning the model text during the imitation phase

At our Talk For Writing Parent Workshop, we shared how we use this approach to teach writing at our school. Below is a copy of the parent brochure about the approach:

Writing Progression of Skills