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We believe that literacy is a fundamental life skill as it develops children’s ability to speak, listen, read and write for a wide range of purposes. Our children are taught to express themselves creatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry, drama and non-fiction texts. They also use their knowledge, skills and understanding of language to speak and write in a variety of situations.

In our English lessons we aim:
  • to enable children to speak clearly and confidently in Standard English, taking account of their listeners 
  • to encourage children to listen actively and summarise the main points heard 
  • to develop their ability to reflect on their own and others’ contributions, to build on the views of others and challenge courteously where appropriate 
  • to develop confident, independent readers who employ a range of strategies to read with increasing fluency 
  • to inspire children to become enthusiastic, reflective and critical readers who enjoy reading a wide range of texts 
  • to develop their ever increasing vocabulary in spoken and written forms 
  • to encourage children to enjoy writing for a range of real purposes and audiences and to recognise its value 
  • to enable children to write with accuracy and meaning in narrative and non-fiction and be able to use grammar and punctuation accurately 
  • for children to be able to plan, draft, edit and reflect on their writing effectively 

What does English look like at Gospel Oak?

Our curriculum is based on the National Curriculum. Teachers seek to be creative and to inspire enthusiasm through the use of well written, engaging texts and topics which are often linked to our IPC curriculum. English lessons are delivered as units of work lasting between 2 and 5 weeks. They generally culminate in a high quality, motivating written outcome that has a clear purpose and audience within the school or wider community. Children study a balance of narrative, non-fiction and poetry across the year, and will encounter the full range of genres by the end of Y6. In an English lesson they may experience; a focused word or sentence activity, a reading or writing activity, a guided group or independent activity, and a session to review progress and learning. Lessons usually begin with a phonics, spelling or grammar based starter, linked to the main focus of the lesson where possible. Children use ICT in English lessons where it enhances their learning: commonly as a source of information and a way of enabling them to present their completed work effectively.

Spoken Language

We aim to teach our children to express themselves clearly and confidently, matching their style to the audience and purpose. They learn to listen and respond to literature and develop the skills needed to participate effectively in a range of situations. Ways in which we do this include:
  • recounting events and experiences
  • retelling stories
  • drama
  • performing/reciting poems
  • talk partner work
  • whole class discussions across the curriculum
  • guided reading
  • storytelling
  • KS2 story telling competition
  • book reviews/recommendations
  • philosophy enquiries
  • school council
  • class assemblies
  • IPC exit points


The National Curriculum for English places reading at its core and asserts that all children must be encouraged to read widely across a range of subjects for information and enjoyment. At Gospel Oak we promote and value reading as an enjoyable activity and a life skill by:
  • choosing engaging and challenging core texts as the basis for units of work
  • keeping classroom book corners well stocked and up to date with a broad range of high quality material
  • reading aloud and discussing books
  • visiting the library and book shops
  • arranging author visits and workshops
  • participating in competitions
  • planning regular opportunities for children to use library books, laptops and iPads for research in other areas of the curriculum
Home reading

Reading at home is a crucial part of reading development and we therefore recommend that parents and carers regularly share books with their children. This can be reading to the child (whatever their age/ability - they really benefit from this even when they are independent readers) listening to them read, asking questions and discussing their books with them. All the research tells us that children who are supported in their reading at home are more likely to enjoy reading and tend to achieve more highly at school.

Below are our expectations for home reading as set out in our homework policy:


We encourage parents and carers to use the library boxes in classrooms which contain books that are suitable to read to children so they can get used to print and stories. They should encourage children to point to words as they are being read.
In Reception, children will start bringing simple books home to read to an adult. Reminding the child to point to the words they are reading, discussing the story and asking questions will help with the child’s understanding of language.


Children bring their reading books home every day and the role of the adult is to listen, encourage and support skills. While the main reading strategy taught in school is phonics, reading at home should be a pleasurable shared experience and children may use the pictures or ask for words which can’t be sounded out easily. We also send home words which need to be recognised on sight and children should be using these with increasing independence. It is important to pause regularly to discuss the content of the book to check that the child has understood what they have read. Children have a reading record which parents/carers should sign or comment in each time they read with the child.


Children read texts that are more complex and take longer to read. They should be encouraged to read all types of texts, including non-fiction. KS2 children are responsible for filling in their reading record every day themselves and making sure it is in school. In Phase 2, children are expected to read for at least 20 minutes a day and in Phase 3, 30 minutes.

For author Julia Donaldson’s tips on how to support early reading at home, please click here.

Letters and Sounds

Synthetic phonics is taught in discrete daily sessions of 10 – 15 minutes in EYFS and Year 1, following the Letters and Sounds teaching programme. Its aim is to secure fluent word recognition skills for reading by the end of Year 1. The programme teaches children to link sounds to specific letters and read words by putting sounds together in order. It also helps them to spell by breaking down words into their separate sounds.

Phonics interventions for a minority of children continue into Year 2 and sometimes KS2 to ensure all children can decode, segment and blend sounds confidently.

Click on this link here to hear how each letter should be sounded out so that you can help your child at home.


At Gospel Oak, we look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils so that they see themselves as writers. We establish the purpose and audience for writing and make the learning journey explicit so that children know why they are studying a particular text type, the skills and knowledge they will develop, and what the expected outcome will be.

We provide a range of writing opportunities and levels of support including; shared, modelled, guided, collaborative, paired and independent writing. Children write in a variety of genres and forms, in different curriculum areas and using a wide range of stimuli. Writing is usually modelled and success criteria is shared or agreed with the children before they start writing to ensure they know what they need to do to be successful. Children in KS2 take responsibility for assessing whether they have achieved the criteria and what they need to do to improve their writing. They are also taught to plan, draft, edit and publish their writing. Each classroom has a working wall to reinforce the key elements of the text type being studied that is added to throughout the unit of work. This includes a section for high quality vocabulary which the children are encouraged to ‘magpie’. Most classrooms also display examples of writing by children who have been particularly successful and/or have made a real effort.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting

Teaching and learning about punctuation and grammar are embedded in our English lessons, whereas handwriting and spelling are taught in discrete sessions.


We believe that having a fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write confidently and efficiently. It is a developmental process with its own distinctive stages of progression from readiness for handwriting, through to letter joins, practising speed and fluency and higher presentation skills. As such the amount of time spent on the teaching of handwriting (for the majority of children) lessens as children progress through the school. The Penpals for handwriting scheme (Cambridge University Press) is used throughout the school and prepares children for handwriting, consolidates their motor control and introduces letter shapes. The script can be seen below.


We aim to equip children to spell fluently through a developmental process of investigating patterns and learning to apply a range of strategies appropriately. We use explicit, interactive teaching which draws children’s attention to the origins, structure and meaning of words and their parts, the shape and sounds of words, the letter patterns within them and the various ways they can learn these patterns. In order to study words like this, we have to take them out of context for the specific teaching of spelling. We believe that this is best achieved little and often and through stimulating multi-sensory activities and games.

In EYFS and Year 1, the teaching of spelling is delivered through the Letters and Sounds phonics programme. This is consolidated in the first half term of Year 2. From then onwards, spelling is taught in 15-minute sessions 5 times a fortnight in KS2, and daily for 10 minutes in Year 2. We follow the teaching sequence of revisit and review, teach, practice, apply, and assess.

Classroom book corners

We strive to ensure our book corners are always well stocked with a wide variety of high quality texts that the children love. As such, teachers are given money annually to spend on sprucing up their classroom selection and usually consult the children over their choices. This is highly motivating for the children who are always very excited when their new books arrive. We are also very grateful to GOSA (our parents' association) for funding new furniture in many of our book corners.

Book recommendations

With thousands of children’s books published every year, it can be difficult to choose the right ones. Here are some websites to help you choose.