Core subject

English teaching from Year 1 to Year 6 takes place in specific English lessons, but also is incorporated across all other subjects. The National Curriculum for English provides the basis for planned learning. This is exemplified, expanded, informed and ignited through cross-curricular topics and the children’s own responses.

At Harleston CE Primary Academy our aim is to help, teach and encourage children to develop as enthusiastic, confident, independent users of language through the spoken and written word. We recognise that language is central to all learning and we appreciate that language empowers children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, as well as allowing them to engage with others at an early age.
In the Foundation Stage, the emphasis is placed upon developing early language skills through structured play, child choice and teacher-directed activities. In Key Stages One and Two, language and literacy are taught every day following the National Curriculum for English. A complete range of language skills are taught throughout the school which include Spoken Language, writing in a variety of forms and for different audiences, reading for understanding, research and retrieval of information and fostering an appreciation and love of literature. Children learn grammar and spellings appropriate to the National Curriculum expectations and their personal needs, to help them write with fluency and efficiency.

Spoken Language

A great emphasis throughout the school is placed upon the development of spoken language skills. Confidence and competence is developed through a variety of activities, which are integrated into both English lessons and throughout the curriculum. Children are taught to participate in group discussion and debates, drama activities and song. The children’s active roles as school council members and eco-rangers further supports this learning.


“Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage." ~ Roald Dahl

The ability to read and write well is a vital skill for all children, paving the way for an enjoyable and successful school experience.

At Harleston Primary, children are taught to both read and understand words in a whole text. They take part in independent, paired, shared and guided reading sessions giving depth and breadth to their reading experiences.

We understand that as soon as children are able to crack the basics of reading, then reading books becomes enjoyable, which is what we all want. Reading is taught initially using a synthetic phonics programme, before moving onto the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme.

Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds, or 'phonemes', that accompany the written letters ('graphemes') in English. It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2.

All children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 have a 20 minute phonics session every day where they are introduced to new sounds and practice the sounds that they are familiar with.

At Harleston Primary, we follow 'Letters and Sounds', a document published by the Department for Education. It is broken down into 6 parts, or 'phases'.

  • Phase 1 is completed in Nursery and focuses on sounds in the environment, instrumental sounds, body sounds, voice sounds and rhythm.
  • Phase 2 begins in Reception. Children are taught 19 letters of the alphabet along with the sound that goes with them.
  • Phase 3 is also started in Reception. During this phase, the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet and their sounds are taught. Digraphs (where two letters make one sound) eg. /sh/ and /ch/ are taught in this phase for the remaining sounds in the English language.
  • During Phase 4, children are taught to segment (break down) and blend (read fluently) longer words. Phase 4 is a chance for children to practice and apply the phonics skills they have already learnt.
  • Phase 5 is taught throughout Year 1 and focuses on different ways of spelling the same sound eg, /oi/ and /oy/ and different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know eg, /ear/ in 'hear' and /ear/ in 'bear'.
  • Phase 6 is taught throughout Year 2. This phase focuses on consolidating all of the other phases, as well as introducing 'rules' for reading and spelling, such as prefixes, suffixes and when to double or drop a letter.

Opportunities are also given during Key Stage 2 using the synthetic phonics approach for further consolidation of reading.  Some pupils undertake specific intervention programmes if they experience difficulties with reading, using the ‘Sound Discovery’ programme. Children read a variety of texts, including poetry, contemporary fiction, classic fiction and non-fiction.

Reading needs to be for pleasure and throughout the school teachers read to the children to ensure that they have a broad range of quality authors in their repertoire.  Listening to their teachers read also allows the children to gain a further love of reading.

We also celebrate and encourage reading during our book week, where we hold many events, including shared reading between classes, favourite book assemblies and an extreme reading competition.

We hold regular reading cafes across the school, where we welcome parents and carers into the classroom, in order to share a book, model effective teaching of reading and then to carry out an activity related to the book with their child.

We also have a number of volunteers who read with children throughout the week as well. The schools asks all children to read at home daily for at least ten minutes and communicate about that reading through the home school diary.

Year 1 phonics screening check

At the end of Year 1, children will undertake a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to an appropriate standard.

There are 40 words in the screening check which children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. T he check is made up of 'real words' (eg. 'mud') and 'non-words' (eg. 'splog') and children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read all words.

Preparation for the check takes place during the daily phonics session, but you can help your child at home by practising phonics on a regular basis.


In writing, spelling, grammar and handwriting are taught alongside developing the ability to structure and compose their own pieces of writing. Links are made to other curriculum areas and we endeavor to make writing opportunities purposeful, meaningful and stimulating.

Each child in school has their own individual next steps in learning for writing.  These are specifically for your child’s personal learning needs, and will be different to other children’s.

Teachers work to help your child achieve their personal next steps in learning at every opportunity.  There are some very useful website addresses to help support and improve punctuation, reading, writing and spelling, which you can access via the links below.

Vocabulary Development

Children’s command of vocabulary is key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Teachers will therefore develop vocabulary actively, building systematically on children’s current knowledge. They will increase pupils’ store of words in general. Simultaneously, they should also make links between known and new vocabulary and discuss the shades of meaning in similar words. In this way, children will expand the vocabulary choices that are available to them when they write.  It is particularly important to introduce children into the language which defines each subject in its own right, such as accurate mathematical and scientific language.


Reading is an essential life skill for the 21st century.  Our school library aims to contribute to our pupil’s learning and development by providing an extensive range of up to date, relevant reading material.

Traditional, classic, modern classic, contemporary and many latest releases in fiction materials are available. This is supported by a well-stocked non-fiction library.

E-books are also available to read on our iPads, as well as the wealth of electronic reading materials available on classroom interactive white boards.

As well as providing information for learning in a variety of formats, we also want our library to encourage a real love of reading for pleasure to develop readers for life.  The children visit the library once a week, and are encouraged to borrow a book to read for pleasure and enjoyment.

Useful Websites to support learning in English:


  • co.uk – An on-line book retailer but when you register you have access to extracts from a range of books particularly newly published books.
  • org – Run by Birmingham libraries
  • poetryarchive.org – Selected poems are read to the children
  • meettheauthor.co.uk – where you can see authors introducing their books in their own words (does contain adult books).
  • channel4learning.com – author biographies including interviews with the authors on their use of writing techniques
  • cambridge.org or dictionarylink.com – on-line dictionary sites. Could be used to compare different dictionaries and find meaning/spelling of unfamiliar words.
  • storylineonline.net – a range of story books read aloud
  • co.uk/schools/typing – Free to use typing tutor
  • cambridge.org or dictionarylink.com – on-line dictionary sites. Could be used to compare different dictionaries and find meaning/spelling of unfamiliar words.
  • org.uk – support writing for history topics in a newspaper style.




Ideas on how to read with your child at home

  1. Choose the right book using the "five-finger rule"
    Ask your child to open the book at any page around the middle of it and read that page.  Each time a word is not known, a finger should be raised.  If five fingers are raised before the child finishes reading the page, the book is too hard. If no fingers are raised, the book is probably easy for your child but can be used to build reading fluency.  If two or three fingers are held up, the book is likely to be at a good level for your child’s reading to improve.
  1. Use sound strategies to tackle a new word
    Ask your child to sound out an unknown word. Look at the letters in a difficult word and ask your child to pronounce each sound or phoneme.  Then, see if your child can blend the sounds together to pronounce the word. Offer help to memorize irregular words.  Explain that words like where, hour, or sign are hard to sound out since they don't follow normal sound patterns.
  1. Use the story to help your child learn
    Ask your child what word or idea would make sense in the plot of the story if he/she gets stuck on an unfamiliar word.  Encourage your child to look at illustrations, pictures, titles, or graphs to figure out the meaning of new words.
  1. Give support and encouragement
    Challenge your child to figure out new words, but always supply the word before he/she becomes frustrated. After your child has read a story, reread it aloud yourself so that he can enjoy it without interruption.
  1. Be a good role model
    Let your child see you reading, and share your excitement when you enjoy a great book of your own.
  1. Make reading a priority
    Whether it's 10 minutes every night before bed or an hour every Sunday morning, it helps to set aside a specific time for reading.
  1. Create the right atmosphere
    Find a quiet comfortable place to listen to your child read.
  1. Make reading fun
    Play around with funny voices to impersonate animals or unusual characters in stories.  Take children to the library to enjoy a selection of books.
  1. Keep reading aloud to your child
  1. Introduce new books