During Year 1, teachers build on work from the Early Years Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt. Teachers ensure that pupils continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier. Understanding that letter(s) on a page represent the sounds in spoken words underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual GPCs.
Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, our curriculum ensures that pupils develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading and establish the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. This is supported by practice in reading books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill and their knowledge of common exception words.
At the same time we ensure that learners hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary. Pupils are helped to read words without overt sounding and blending after a few encounters.
Those who are slow to develop this skill are offered extra practice. The curriculum is structured such that pupils entering Year 1 who have not yet met the Early Learning Goals (ELG) for literacy will continue to follow the curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage so that they develop their word reading, spelling and language skills. However, these pupils follow the Year 1 programme of study in terms of the books they listen to and discuss so that they develop their vocabulary and understanding of grammar, as well as their knowledge more generally across the curriculum. If they are still struggling to decode and spell, they are taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly.
Teachers ensure that their teaching develops pupils’ oral vocabulary as well as their ability to understand and use a variety of grammatical structures, giving particular support to pupils whose oral language skills are insufficiently developed.
By the beginning of Year 2, the curriculum is structured so that pupils are able to read all common graphemes. They are able to read unfamiliar words containing these graphemes, accurately and without undue hesitation, by sounding them out in books that are matched closely to each pupil’s level of word-reading knowledge. They are also able to read many common words containing GPCs taught so far [for example, shout, hand, stop, or dream], without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. It is the aim that pupils’ reading of common exception words - sometimes known as ‘tricky words’ [for example, you, could, many, or people] - are secure. Pupils increase their fluency by being able to read these words easily and automatically. Finally, pupils are given ample opportunities to retell some familiar stories that have been read to and discussed with them or that they have acted out during year 1.
During Year 2, teachers continue to focus on establishing pupils’ accurate and speedy word reading skills. They make sure that pupils listen to and discuss a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books; this includes whole books. It is our view that the sooner that pupils can read well and do so frequently, the sooner they will be able to increase their vocabulary, comprehension and their knowledge across our wider curriculum. In writing, the curriculum gives pupils good opportunities to compose individual sentences orally and then write them down. They are encouraged to spell many of the words covered in Year 1 correctly whilst making phonically plausible attempts to spell words they have not yet learnt. Finally, they are able to form individual letters correctly, establishing good handwriting habits from the beginning.
It is important to recognise that pupils begin to meet extra challenges in terms of spelling during Year 2. Increasingly, they learn that there is not always an obvious connection between the way a word is said and the way it is spelt. Variations include different ways of spelling the same sound, the use of so-called silent letters and groups of letters in some words and, sometimes, spelling that has become separated from the way that words are now pronounced, such as the ‘le’ ending in table. Our curriculum ensures that the pupils’ motor skills are sufficiently advanced for them to write down ideas so that they are able to compose orally.
For pupils who do not have the phonic knowledge and skills they need for Year 2, teachers use the Year 1 programmes of study for word reading and spelling so that pupils’ word-reading skills catch up. However, teachers still use the National Curriculum Year 2 programme of study for comprehension so that these pupils hear and talk about new books, poems, other writing, and vocabulary with the rest of the class.
Years 3 and 4
By the beginning of Year 3, we aim that pupils are able to read books written at an age appropriate interest level and that they are able to read them accurately, at a speed that is sufficient for them to focus on understanding what they have read rather than on decoding individual words. We make sure that they are able to decode most new words outside their spoken vocabulary, making a good approximation to the pronunciation of the word.
As their decoding skills become increasingly secure, the curriculum ensures that pupils are directed more towards developing vocabulary and the breadth and depth of their reading, making sure that they become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently. The curriculum and approach develops their understanding and enjoyment of stories, poetry, plays and non-fiction, and the skill of learning to read silently. Additionally, the curriculum also ensures that they develop their knowledge and skills in reading non-fiction across a wide range of subjects and topics, learning to justify their views about what they have read: with support at the start of Year 3 and increasingly independently by the end of Year 4.
The curriculum further develops pupils’ ability to write down their ideas with a reasonable degree of accuracy and with good sentence punctuation. Our approach seeks to consolidate pupils’ writing skills, their vocabulary, their grasp of sentence structure and their knowledge of linguistic terminology. The curriculum is designed to develop children as writers, teaching them to enhance the effectiveness of what they write as well as increasing their competence. This approach makes sure that pupils build on what they have learnt, particularly in terms of the range of their writing and the more varied grammar, vocabulary and narrative structures from which they can draw to express their ideas.
As a result, by the end of Year 4 pupils are increasingly able to understand how writing can be different from speech. Joined handwriting is the norm for our pupils by this age, and we expect pupils to record their ideas quickly but to an appropriate depth. The curriculum makes sure that pupils’ spelling of common words is correct including common exception words and other words that they have learnt. Because of our focus on strategies in literacy, pupils are able to spell words as accurately as possible using their phonic knowledge and other knowledge of spelling, such as morphology and etymology.
Most pupils do not need further direct teaching of word reading skills in Year 4; they are able to decode unfamiliar words accurately, needing few repeated experiences of this before the word is stored in such a way that they can read it without overt sound-blending. We ensure pupils can demonstrate understanding of figurative language, distinguish shades of meaning among related words and use age-appropriate, academic vocabulary. Specific requirements for pupils to discuss what they are learning and to develop their wider skills in spoken language form a strong part of our curriculum. In Years 3 and 4, pupils become increasingly more familiar with and confident in using language in a range of situations and for a variety of audiences and purposes. The method of presentation will vary but include drama and debate.
Years 5 and 6
By the beginning of Year 5, we expect that our pupils are able to read aloud a wider range of poetry and books written at an age-appropriate interest level with accuracy and at a reasonable speaking pace. They will be able to read most words effortlessly and to work out how to pronounce unfamiliar written words with increasing automaticity. If the pronunciation sounds unfamiliar, they have ample opportunity to ask for help in determining both the meaning of the word and how to pronounce it correctly.
Our curriculum ensures that pupils are confident to prepare readings, with appropriate intonation to show their understanding, and are able to summarise and present a familiar story in their own words. The approach involves reading widely and frequently, outside as well as in school, for pleasure and information, read silently, with good understanding and inferring the meanings of unfamiliar words. Furthermore, our curriculum aims to make sure that pupils are able to write down their ideas quickly. The approach ensures that their grammar and punctuation are at least broadly accurate.
During Years 5 and 6, teachers continue to emphasise pupils’ enjoyment and understanding of language, especially vocabulary, to support their reading and writing. Pupils’ knowledge of language, gained from stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction and textbooks, is used to support their increasing fluency as readers, their facility as writers, and their comprehension. As in Years 3 and 4, pupils are taught to enhance the effectiveness of their writing as well as their competence. By the end of Year 6, pupils’ reading and writing are sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum in Year 7, across all subjects and not just in English, (although there will continue to be a need for pupils to learn subject-specific vocabulary).
Our approach ensures that children are able to reflect their understanding of organisation, audience and purpose by selecting appropriate vocabulary and grammar. Teachers prepare pupils for secondary education by ensuring that they can consciously control sentence structure in their writing and understand why sentences are constructed as they are. We ensure that pupils can understand nuances in vocabulary choice and age-appropriate, academic vocabulary.
Our approach involves consolidation, practice and discussion of language. Specific requirements for pupils to discuss what they are learning and to develop their wider skills in spoken language form part of this curriculum. In Years 5 and 6, pupils’ confidence, enjoyment and mastery of language are extended through public speaking, performance and debate.
Download our whole school curriculum plan for Reading & Writing by clicking the links below