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Why is English so important?

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.


Our approach to writing encourages our children to develop a love for writing and allows them to be taught necessary skills which are needed for them to become a confident and independent writer. At Sankey Valley St James, we always ensure the children are made aware of the purpose and audience of their writing and make sure that writing skills are taught using a high quality text.

We make our writing as cross curricular as possible by linking our writing objectives within our foundation subjects where appropriate. Through the use of stimulating resources we can ignite their passion and creativity for writing. At every opportunity we explore the composition, grammar and punctuation of sentences and investigate different text and genre features.

Early Years


In the two year old provision, reading is taught through story telling and handling books. Adults focus on simple, repetitive stories with songs and rhymes and children share books daily with an adult on a one to one level and as a whole group. Each medium term plan is designed around a different story and all enhancements to continuous provision will follow this theme.

In Nursery, our children begin to read independently retelling stories in their own words, following repetitive story language and then acting stories out through small world and role-play on a large scale. The children will engage in a shared read with an adult each day and big books are used to model reading skills. Opportunities to read are incorporated in all areas of provision both inside and outside and book corners are exciting cosy places to share and discuss a variety of books.

In Reception, our children begin to independently blend and segment CVC words and read words from sight. All children begin phase 2 letters and sounds and quickly move onto phase 3 by January.  They engage in a shared read daily and each child will have an independent read and a guided read with an adult every week. Progress is rapid in reception. By the end of Reception children should be able to use phonic skills to decode words, read and understand simple sentences and explain what they have read to others. They should be able to read tricky words and read own sentences. To support this, we hold reading workshops for parents and children are encouraged to read at home.


In the two year old provision we focus on developing gross motor skills and large hand and arm movements. Children make marks with large chalks and crayons on a large scale both inside and outside. Our main focus is about giving the children the language and life experiences to write about whilst developing their gross motor skills.

In Nursery, children spend longer writing and begin to hold a pencil and engage in adult directed writing once a week with a teacher. Our children will practice writing their name and engage in Phase 1 and Phase 2 letters and sounds. Most of the children’s writing is done through free choice in the continuous provision both inside and outside. There are opportunities to write in all areas.

In Reception, writing becomes more structured. Children engage in literacy every day and most days they will write supported by an adult. They will participate in phase 2, 3 or 4 phonics sessions and they will engage in a shared write every day. Writing is taught through literacy (writing) and physical development (fine and gross motor). We hold literacy workshops for parents and children practice handwriting once a week. Writing is included in all areas of our provision and the children are encouraged to complete independent challenges with regards to writing. The children are encouraged to write for a purpose e.g. shopping lists, labels and captions and we will always endeavour to share the children’s work with others.

How can I help my child at home?

  • Encourage your child to read for pleasure.
  • Listen to your child read regularly. Take the time to share new words and extend your child’s vocabulary.
  • Encourage expressive reading by drawing attention to punctuation.
  • Find some time to talk about the book as well as reading it.

Pupil Voice


Our Vision in English

Our English vision is to create a love of the subject through the use of high quality texts to inspire, excite and engage our children. We believe that the ability to read well is an essential skill to enable our pupils to achieve their full potential. Our children will be inspired to produce high-quality writing that is engaging, creative, has a purpose and commands the reader’s attention. 


At Sankey Valley St James, we aim to create a love of reading in all children and encourage our pupils to read a range of wide range of books from different authors. Reading skills are taught as soon as children join us and continue until they leave the school.

Children in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1 are taught letters and sounds each day. This is a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics and continues for as long as the child requires it. For most children this will end in Year 2.

As the children move through school, they are taught a variety of skills to support their reading comprehension and to allow them to become confident, fluent readers. This includes strategies such as:

  • Using pictures to look for clues
  • Reading with expression
  • Making predictions about what will happen next
  • Retrieving information from the page to answer comprehension questions
  • Developing the children’s ability to infer and deduce meaning from a text
  • Skimming and scanning a text to be able to efficiently find information in order to be able to answer a question.


Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 take part in daily phonics sessions linked to the Letters and Sounds programme. This programme aims to build children's speaking and listening skills as well as preparing them to learn to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. Letters and Sounds is split into 6 phases which aim for children to become fluent readers by the age of seven.

Phase One

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segent longer words with adjacet consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five

Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


All children (Years 1-6) are formally assessed in both reading and writing at the end of each term. Children will complete a reading assessment and three pieces of their writing from the term will be assessed against the objectives which they have been focusing on. These assessments allow all teachers to track the progress of each child in their class and put in place interventions and plan the next steps of their learning. Staff communicate with parents on a regular basis and parents receive annual written reports and are invited into parents evenings to discuss progress.

What do we do to make English special?

  • We use texts which motivate and engage our children
  • We create opportunities for our children to extend and develop their vocabulary.
  • We develop a love of reading by taking into account our children’s interests and updating our school library with exciting and informative books.
  • We prioritise the importance and accessibility of reading to all our children. Our Children have daily opportunities to read a variety of material in school including a time to listen to their class teacher share a class book at the end of the school day.
  • We celebrate great pieces of writing and encourage our children to share their work with others.
  • We ensure that each child reaches their potential and is able to create a piece of writing which is fit for purpose and is something they are proud of.
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