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English at Gade Valley Primary School

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English Subject Leader: Mrs Blackledge

Curriculum Aims

Reading and Phonics

At Gade Valley Primary School, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is vital for success and that for pupils to achieve in reading, they need to have an embedded love of reading. It is our aim that pupils leave Gade Valley as fluent, enthusiastic readers who can fully engage with a wide range of texts, and use their knowledge to confidently evaluate an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. The National Curriculum guides our teaching and we use this, as well as our pupils' interests, to plan our lessons. 


Writing and Spelling

At Gade Valley Primary School, we strive for our pupils to enjoy writing and to be proud of their written skills. We want every child to leave our school at the end of KS2 with the skills of an excellent writer, including the ability to write with fluency and style. Here at Gade Valley, the pupils develop their writing skills by exploring a range of different genres. We encourage cross-curricular links to help create purposeful learning opportunities and emphasise the importance of high-quality writing not only in English lessons but also in subjects across the curriculum.


How we teach Reading and Writing

All English lessons include the Gade Valley Principles of Teaching and Learning, which are a set of non-negotiables for each lesson e.g. all pupils will be challenged, the pupils will display good learning behaviours, etc.


Our Reading Environment:

We have created a learning environment which promotes reading for pleasure throughout the school, including use of an exciting new library and class-based reading areas and engaging displays. There is a wide selection of books which pupils can independently access, many of which have been purchased following pupil requests. Teachers encourage reading for pleasure by sharing texts they personally enjoy and by recommending books/authors to the pupils to extend their reading repertoire. Frequently, we update our range of book titles across the school, ensuring that the pupils have a wide collection to choose from. In the EYFS and KS1, reading books are carefully selected from a book scheme according to teacher assessment of the phonics phase that the pupils are working within. We ensure that reading books are fully decodable. In KS2, pupils take part in the Accelerated Reading programme and have a wide range of books carefully labelled with the AR coding for them to enjoy (please see link below for more information). In our CHAMP village, we have a dedicated outdoor reading area, in which older pupils read to our younger pupils during break times. 


Celebrating Achievements in Reading and Writing:

Reading at home is rewarded with special stamps in Reading Records and Planners, as well as certificates and badges. Here is the progression of certificates and badges that the pupils can earn:

  • 50 reads earns you the red reading certificate
  • 100 reads earns you the bronze reading certificate
  • 150 reads earns you the silver reading certificate
  • 200 reads earns you the gold reading certificate
  • 250 reads earns you the blue reading certificate and silver star badge
  • 300 reads earns you the yellow reading certificate and gold star badge


At Gade Valley, we encourage the pupils to read at home at least five times a week. When the pupils have read five times, there are given a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket which is then put into an exciting weekly draw. The EYFS/KS1 and KS2 winners are announced during our weekly sharing assembly and are presented with a delicious Wonka Bar by none other than Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas!

At Gade Valley, we also encourage pupils to work hard to improve their continuous cursive handwriting. Neat handwriting is rewarded with stamps in exercise books, handwriting certificates and pen licences (in KS2) which are celebrated during our weekly sharing assembly.


Promoting Reading for Pleasure:

Pupils at Gade Valley end each day with a 15-20 minute ‘Once Upon A Time’ reading session in which the teachers model reading for pleasure using a high quality text. These sessions help create a calm learning environment which is conducive to reading for enjoyment.

Other regular events have been set up to promote reading throughout the school including celebrating Roald Dahl Day, Book Week, World Book Day, Storytelling Week, drama workshops led by external companies, author visits and an annual summer reading challenge. We organise regular Buddy Reading sessions where classes are paired up from across the school to read together. In addition to this, we have surprise Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) sessions which are announced by our Eco Council playing musical instruments around the school.

Every year, the school enjoys a visit from the Book Fair which provides pupils with opportunities to purchase new books. As part of these visits, pupils also identify new titles which they would like to be included in the school library, further ensuring that the book stock is kept fresh to maximise engagement. 


Phonics and Reading sessions:

Reading has a high priority in each classroom, with pupils taking part in whole class guided reading called 'We Read' (often linked to other areas of the curriculum) and one to one reading with adults. Phonics and Reading sessions are designed to develop the blending and segmenting of letters, sounds and words as well as the pupils' comprehension skills. This helps them to become confident and competent readers.

Pupils in the EYFS and KS1 have daily phonics sessions which are differentiated by phase and follow the Letters and Sounds programme (audited and adapted to ensure we meet the latest DfE guidelines), as well as the National Curriculum spelling expectations. We carefully select reading books matched to the pupils' knowledge of phonics. Parent phonics workshops are available to help them support their child’s development at home. From Year 2 up to Year 6, the pupils are also taught about spelling patterns and rules.


Reading within the English Lesson:

All pupils throughout the school participate in daily English lessons which are in addition to the phonics and reading sessions. These lessons follow a three-phased approach of reading (developing comprehension skills), exploring the genre (including grammar) and writing. Teachers deliver lessons based on high quality texts and continue to model reading and comprehension skills even if the focus in that particular lesson is not reading. Objectives are taken from the National Curriculum to ensure the correct level of challenge and progression in skills.



From Nursery and Reception, pupils are provided with plentiful opportunities to refine their gross and fine motor skills, in preparation for writing. Once pupils begin to write, correct letter formation is modelled, practised and encouraged. At Gade Valley, we use the continuous cursive style of writing. Pupils in KS1 continue to have targeted handwriting sessions so that the majority of our pupils have started to join by the end of Year 2. Handwriting sessions continue in KS2 so that the pupils join confidently and fluently. We encourage excellent presentation in all written work across the curriculum. Any pupils still working towards the required level receive extra targeted intervention where necessary.



Spelling rules and patterns are taught from Year 2 to Year 6 using the National Curriculum. Teachers also focus on the needs of the class, addressing specific areas of spelling weakness as they arise. Pupils are encouraged to make use of 'Working Walls' in the classroom to aid them with their spelling rather than relying on adult intervention. They are also taught how to reflect upon their writing by editing their spelling using word banks and dictionaries to develop their independence.


‘We Write’ and Creative Writing:

In addition to English lessons, every month the pupils participate in an extended writing session called ‘We Write’ in which they develop and apply the skills they have learnt during their English lessons. This session helps develop confidence and enjoyment in writing whilst consolidating skills. The pupils are given individual writing targets and whole-class feedback is given to help move their learning forward.

Their writing is then added to their individual Creative Writing books, building a collection of their fantastic work. Written work is usually guided through the use of ‘steps to success’ and regular marking and feedback. We highlight successes using ‘tickle pink’ and areas for development using ‘green for growth’.


Key Developments and Information for 2022/23

Up to December 2022:

  • In the 2021/2022 reading statutory assessments, 83% of the pupils achieved at least age related expectations, with 48% achieving greater depth at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • In the 2021/2022 writing statutory assessments, 83% of pupils achieved at least age related expectations, with 14% achieving greater depth at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • 83% of pupils in Year 1 passed the Phonics Screening test in June 2022. 
  • New fully decodable reading books have been purchased to develop our EYFS/KS1 book scheme.
  • New books have been purchased for the whole school library, including many for our KS2 pupils using Accelerated Reading, to further encourage a love of reading across the school. Pupil voice was conducted to discover popular book choices. Careful research was also administered to find books that would inspire all pupils and promote diversity and equality.
  • A successful 'Book Week' was held where pupils from Nursery up to Year 6 used the text 'Sharing a shell' to inspire their reading and writing. The pupils' were engaged and motivated whilst sharing their work during a whole school assembly. 
  • World Book Day was celebrated with all pupils and staff dressing as different book characters. Pupils thoroughly enjoyed the day and it helped promote reading across the school. A pupil in KS1 said 'This is my favourite day of school so far!'
  • All pupils from Nursery to Year 6 celebrate reading in our weekly sharing assembly during our Willy Wonka golden ticket draw and by receiving certificates for reading at home. 
  • Pupils from Reception to Year 6 celebrate improved handwriting in our weekly sharing assembly when certificates are awarded.
  • KS2 pupils are encouraged to continue developing their continuous cursive handwriting when they receive pen licenses during our weekly sharing assembly. 
  • All pupils from Nursery to Year 6 take part in regular buddy reading sessions and DEAR (Drop Everything And Read). 
  • All pupils across the school take part in regular 'We Read' and 'Once upon a time' reading sessions in class. 
  • Reading was encouraged throughout the summer holiday using our 'Rainbow Reading' challenge as an incentive. Pupils' photos are celebrated in a colourful display in the school corridor.


Key Information for 2022/23

  • Pupil voice in Key Stage 1 and 2 indicates that:

- All pupils enjoy learning how to read and write at Gade Valley.

- All pupils state that their teachers’ feedback helps them learn how to read and write.

- All pupils feel that their teachers encourage them to read regularly at home.

- Quotes from our pupils:

“Getting certificates for reading really motivates me to read more at home” (Year 6 pupil)

“I can build a new part of my imagination when I read lots of books” (Year 2 pupil)

“I really enjoy celebrating Roald Dahl’s birthday every year because I love his books” (Year 3 pupil)

 “I love it when the Golden Ticket winners are announced during Sharing Assembly” (Year 2 pupil)

 “Buddy Reading with the younger children works well because we can be role models for them” (Year 6 pupil)

"I like Buddy Reading because I get to see my brother" (Year 2 pupil)

  • ‘Once upon a time’ reading for enjoyment sessions at the end of the day are popular with the pupils and they enjoy listening to the teachers sharing a variety of books.
  • ‘Rainbow Reading’ competition in which the pupils and staff take colourful photos of themselves reading helps promote a love of reading throughout the summer holiday. The photos are displayed in the main corridor for everyone to enjoy, and prizes and certificates are shared with the pupils. 
  • DEAR sessions have been announced by the school Eco Council and Buddy Reading has been organised between all classes from Nursery to Year 6 to raise the profile of reading throughout the school.
To see our learning in English, please visit the English page on the 'Curriculum Blogs' section.

Whole School English Overview

Reading and Writing Skills Progression

Books that we read at Gade Valley

Accelerated Reading Program Guide for Parents