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English at Gade Valley Primary School

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English Subject Leader: Miss Knott


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 intent 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. Our teaching is guided by the National Curriculum and our Non-Negotiables (please see attachments above).


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 children develop their writing skills by exploring a range of different genres. We encourage cross-curricular links with topic work 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.



Our Reading Environment:

We have created a learning environment which promotes reading for pleasure throughout the school, including use of exciting communal and class-based reading areas and engaging displays. There is a wide selection of books which children can independently access from the school library and individual class collections. Teachers encourage reading for pleasure by sharing texts they personally enjoy and by recommending books/authors to children to extend their reading repertoire. 

Frequently, we update our range of book titles across the school, ensuring that the children have a wide collection to choose from. In the EYFS and KS1, reading books are selected from a book scheme which is mainly resourced through Oxford Reading Tree. In KS2, children 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 in English section of ‘Celebrating our Curriculum’). Our school library and outdoor reading area is currently being developed to reflect our passion for books and reading.


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 children 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 children to read at home at least five times a week. When the children 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 children 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 ‘Random Reading’ competition. 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 Year 6 School Ambassadors playing musical instruments around the school.

Every year, the school enjoys a visit from the Scholastic Book Fair which provides pupils with opportunities to purchase new books. As part of these visits, children 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. We have strong links with our local library in Hemel Hempstead and arrange for the children to visit the library, as well as the library team visiting our school to lead assemblies.


Phonics and Reading sessions:

Reading has a high priority in each classroom, with children taking part in whole class guided reading (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 children’s comprehension skills. This helps them to become confident and competent readers.

Children in the EYFS and KS1 have daily phonics sessions which are differentiated by phase and follow the Letters and Sounds programme, as well as the National Curriculum spelling expectations. From Year 2 up to Year 6, the children are also taught about spelling patterns and rules. Regular homework tasks are set to help develop phonics and spelling skills across the school. Phonics workshops are available to help parents support their child’s development at home.


Reading within the English Lesson:

All children throughout the school also 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 and Non-Negotiables to ensure the correct level of challenge and progression in skills.



From Nursery and Reception, children 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. Children in KS1 continue to have targeted handwriting sessions so that the majority of children 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 children 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. Children 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 fortnight the children participate in an extended writing session called ‘We Write’ in which they apply the skills they have learnt during their English lessons. This session helps develop confidence and enjoyment in writing whilst consolidating skills. The children are given individual writing targets and whole-class feedback is given to help move their learning forward.

Once a month, the children also write an extended piece of work in their Creative Writing books. This is often a final piece of work that has been developed over a sequence of English lessons. children are given the opportunity to edit and check their work in their English books before publishing it using their best presentation in their Creative Writing books.

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’.



Reading and Phonics

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of KS1. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of KS1 and KS2. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. At Gade Valley, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to develop their own love of genres and authors, and to review their books objectively.


Writing and Spelling

By the time our pupils leave Gade Valley Primary School, we aim for them to be competent, confident writers who are equipped with the skills needed to be fully prepared for their secondary education.


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

Accelerated Reading Program Guide for Parents