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St Stephens Primary School


English at St Stephens Community Primary School

At St Stephens, we believe English is fundamental to success for all pupils.

They need to be articulate communicators, have a love of reading and be able to write for a range of audiences and purposes.

St Stephens teaches the National Curriculum.

The aims of teaching English, as outlined in the programmes of study 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.

The Subject Leader for English is Mrs V Jones.

 Spoken Language

Children will be provided with opportunities to:

  • Talk for a range of purposes.
  • Regularly use partner talk to develop ideas
  • Use talk to clarify thinking and understanding
  • Communicate to different audiences
  • Listen and respond to different people
  • To use discussion to probe and remedy misconceptions
  • Observe and participate in dramatic activities

Opportunities to develop spoken language and listening skills will be developed through activities in English lessons such as book talk and storymaps. It will also be developed across the full curriculum e.g. through class discussions in SMSC.

Drama will be used to enhance spoken language, including opportunities for:

  • ­  Storytelling
  • ­  Characterisation and exploring dialogue
  • ­  Performing poems and rhymes
  • ­  Exploring issues and dilemmas
  • ­  Participation in class and school productions
  • ­  Film making and broadcasting using digital media


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Whole School Text Progression

Prioritising Reading

At St Stephens, it is our intent that every child will be taught to read fluently for meaning and will leave primary school able to read and comprehend a wide range of age appropriate texts. Children will be encouraged to develop a love of reading, through regular exposure to high quality texts that will be shared by adults; as well as developing the reading habits of avid readers, choosing to read for pleasure. 

Books to share and read aloud will be carefully selected by adults, to support thematic, book-led learning. These books can be found on our school reading spine, which is regularly reviewed and updated.

Reading skills will be taught strategically throughout the school, starting as soon as possible with the very youngest children.  The children will be taught through daily phonics, individual and guided reading, as well as having good quality literature, non-fiction and poetry read to them.

Children falling behind the expected standard will be quickly identified and given additional support to catch up, so that they stand every chance of being a fluent and lifelong reader.

 How We Organise Reading

At St Stephens, reading is seen as a top priority by all members of the community.  Children are encouraged to engage in daily reading in a number of ways:

Curriculum: the curriculum is arranged around our school reading spine. Each of our termly themes are underpinned by carefully chosen novels, stories, non-fiction texts and poetry. This is enhanced with our class novels, which we read to children daily.

Individual Reading 

Reading at Stephens is organised carefully to support the children on their journey through the acquisition of skills and fluency and comprehension; onto personal enjoyment and choosing authors and genres for pleasure as well as learning.

 From nursery through to the end of KS1, books are organised according to the KS1 book banding colour scheme.

Further Information for parents can be found using this link:


Children start with picture books and then move through a series of levels, matched to the phonetic stage they are being taught. Within each band, children have the support of traditional reading scheme titles, as well as non-fiction books.

The children are expected to take these books home and read with them with an adult, who records their practise in a home/school reading record. Children may take the same book home more than once, to build fluency and confidence.

Alongside this, all children in KS1 have access to the online service- Bug Club. Here they can read books in digital format, as well as hear them audibly.

Towards the end of KS1,children may be transferred from the book bands, to Accelerated Reader. This will happen, as the children become confident, fluent readers, who can discuss and answer questions about storyline, content and make predictions about their reading.

Accelerated Reader


Accelerated Reader is a reading assessment and organisational tool, which allows children to read for pleasure. 

In KS2, all reading books are now organised into a numerical banding system. Within each number band are a range of real, scheme and non-fiction books, which allow children to choose books from a range of well known authors and schemes. 

Once a term, children take an online reading assessment quiz, which adapts to the individual user. It assesses aspects of reading comprehension, vocabulary and speed, from which the children are given a numerical range (zpd). From this range, they are able to choose from a wide range of books in the KS2 reading area and classroom book corners. 

After reading each book, children sit an online quiz, which allows their teacher to track how well they understand the books they are reading. It also gives the children a comparable reading age


As the children pass quizzes, they are given rewards for the number of words they have read in the successfully passed quizzes.


If they pass the online quiz, the number of words in the book is added automatically to their ‘word count’. Children will receive certificates when they reach word count milestones. When they reach a million words, they will be awarded an enamel ‘millionaire’ badge.

Fostering a Love of Reading

Reading on a daily basis is seen as a fundamental part of the curriculum at St Stephens. Children are rewarded and encouraged to read as often as they can. This success is rewarded in a variety of ways:

Karate Reading

Karate reading is a school reward system, where children are awarded coloured wristbands for the number of times they read. The children will work through coloured ‘karate cards’, which will be stamped each time their reading record is signed by an adult, when the child reads. The children will receive a coloured wrist band (or book mark if preferred) each time they complete a card.

People can be seen reading everywhere:



The Reading Environment

Each classroom is seen as the heart of the reading environment. We all have appealing book corners, which celebrate the joy of reading for pleasure.

Displays of books and recommended authors are found throughout the school, to encourage children to try new books.

In each class teachers read aloud to children on a daily basis and enjoy sharing stories and poems with whole classes, individually and in Guided Reading sessions.



  We also have regular volunteers, who come in and        share books and stories with children.



World Book Day

Each year we celebrate World Book Day at the beginning of March. On this day, we collapse the curriculum to celebrate our love of books. Events vary each year, but always include reading together, sharing books and stories and celebrating our rich literary heritage. Some of our favourite events have been:

  • Drop everything and read
  • Decorate the classroom door
  • Bring your favourite book to school
  • Dress up as a book character
  • Read in exciting  and unusual places competitions
  • Read across the ages (younger and older children paired reading)



Library links:

Each year we encourage children to join the Saltash library ‘Summer Reading Challenge’. This year it was based around the theme of space. Many of our children won certificates and awards.

Remember that you can join the library for free and borrow books at any time of year.

Look out for next year’s challenge!


In our school, children learn the 44 common phonemes in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds through our phonics programmes. We start teaching phonics in Nursery exposing children to Phase One which allows children to explore the sounds within their environment using a variety of resources.  Children are then introduced to Phase Two which introduces 23 new phonemes. The children learn to recognise these phonemes and begin to use them within their writing when forming simple words. Once these skills are embedded children will start to read stories with words that they are familiar with.  Once secure, they will move onto the next Phase where they will learn new phonemes therefore increasing fluency in their reading. 

Children are taught in daily phonics sessions throughout Early Years and Key Stage One. Teachers and LSAs constantly assess children in their group and discuss children's needs accordingly.  We make sure that all children read books that are closely matched to their  current phonics phase and their ability to read common exception words correctly. This enables our children to be successful readers and gain the confidence that is needed to enhance their enjoyment of reading.



Our rigorous phonics programme sees children learning the 44 phonemes from Phase one to six through a variety of programmes.  Letters and sounds, Phonics Bug and Phonics Play are the main programmes we use to support children in their learning of phonics. This includes the teaching of synthetic phonics; sight vocabulary; decoding and encoding words; as well as spelling and correct letter formation. Using these phonics programmes, helps children to develop their love for reading and have fluency in the texts they are reading and develops their understanding.

The sequence of reading books shows a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that is matched closely to the school's phonics programme. This then develops their language enabling them to embed this in their writing in a range of contexts, for a range of purposes and audiences.

By the time children leave Year 1, we aim for all pupils, including the weakest readers, to make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations in phonics. Our results are consistently above the national average, which reflects our high expectations for teaching and learning in phonological acquisition, which supports every child to become a reader.

Throughout Year 1 we measure phonic attainment using half termly assessments culminating in the phonics screening check towards the end of Year One.  Children who do not meet the expected standard are given additional interventions throughout Year 2 and into KS2 to ensure they have opportunity to catch up.


Reading in EYFS


How To Support Children with Reading

Tips for Reading with children of any age:

  • Set aside some time - Find somewhere quiet without any distractions. Turn off the TV/Radio/Computer.
  • Ask your child to choose a book - Sharing books they have chosen shows that you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means that they are more likely to engage with the book.
  • Sit close together - Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
  • Point to the pictures - If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Encourage your child to talk about the book - Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other better or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel
  • And lastly, above all - make it fun! It doesn't matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don't be afraid to use funny voices- Children love this!

For more advice and videos on reading with your child visit : https://www.booktrust.org.uk/

How can I find out more about reading?

Recommended Books:

Who next?: A Guide to Children’s Authors

Book Trust: Best Book Guide

Waterstones: Guide to Kid’s Books

70 Tried and Tested: Great Books to Read Aloud

Recommended Websites:











At St Stephens, children will be taught to write, organise and present texts for a variety of readers and audiences.

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Children will be taught two key writing skills:

  • Transcription – the use of correct spelling and grammar
  • Composition – articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing

Spelling continues to be taught throughout the school and forms a key part of homework activities.

Children will be taught to write imaginative texts using a ‘Talk for Writing’ approach. This involves immersing children in quality texts which they learn, retell and write.

These writing activities will be stimulating, relate to the children’s experiences and interests and be prepared for real audiences and purposes. Expectations are high and children will write texts using a range of sophisticated vocabulary, varied sentence structures and an increasing range of punctuation.

The spelling and grammar appendices of the new curriculum will be followed in each year group.


At St Stephens we aim to deliver a fun, interactive and fast learning platform for children when they first learn to read. We currently use Phonics Bug and Phonics Play daily to help us deliver comprehensive phonics development. This programme offers our children the teaching of synthetic phonics through videos, interactive games and reading/spelling sessions.

Phonics is taught for at least 20 minutes every day in Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 and we assess progress regularly to ensure that any child who is falling behind is targeted with quick interventions.

The Phonics Bug programme also provides parents/carers with access at home through their child’s personal log in.

The children have access to many different books linked to this programme which are phonetically decodable. They also use other schemes within our school to support their reading. We ensure phonics is used as the first method children use to decode new words to read or to attempt to spell in writing. This enables us as a school to offer children the opportunity to develop a path to a lifelong love of reading, whilst ensuring rapid progress towards age expected outcomes.

All pupils will take the Year 1 phonics test in the summer term and results are published and shared with parents.


Curriculum Statement


At St Stephens, we believe that the teaching of English underpins the entire curriculum. Therefore, it is our intention that the fundamental skills of speaking and listening, reading and writing and the delivery of the National curriculum, will be taught systematically through a carefully structured thematic approach. It is essential that children are able to communicate ideas effectively through collaborative discussion and interaction with their peers and adults; can read a range of text types to enhance their learning and are able to record their understanding in a range of genres which engage different audiences. We firmly believe in immersing our children in an environment that is rich in vocabulary and language. We aim to do this through a thematic approach to learning, where the children read and have read to them, a wide range of quality literature, non fiction texts and poetry carefully selected to spark a lifelong love of reading. Collaborative talk, and overlearning new vocabulary, will enable children to practise their skills and link their English work into cross curricular subjects, to ensure broad and balanced learning opportunities.

It is our intention that pupils will leave St Stephens as able, articulate communicators; fluent, avid readers and expressive, creative writers, who confidently apply accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling rules.


Speaking and listening

At St Stephens, we believe that communication and the acquisition of language underpins the entire curriculum. We strive to create a language rich environment, where children are encouraged to speak to their peers in talk partners; share ideas in collaborative groups and verbally rehearse ideas before writing. We believe that children should be given opportunity to develop their language skills, through the use of talk for writing, sentence stems and philosophy for children. We highlight and discuss new vocabulary, celebrate words and use working walls and word banks to support children in language acquisition.

Children falling behind their peers are identified early and supported through small, adult led sessions to catch up. As children move through school, they are encouraged to speak in a range of group and whole class situations, expanding on their peers ideas and suggestions, giving reasons and evidence for their theories.

Children will use talk partners and collaboration in all areas including maths, where they will use rehearsed sentence stems to explain their reasoning and solving of problems.


At St Stephens we believe that reading is a fundamental life-long skill, which lies at the heart of the curriculum. The curriculum has been built on a carefully chosen text spine, to ensure the children have been immersed in an environment of diverse, good quality literature.

We have built a culture which promotes the expectation and joy of regular reading from nursery  to Year 6, where children leave as confident, fluent readers; able to use their skills both for leisure and their future education.

In the early years and KS1, we teach reading through regular story sharing, daily explicit phonics teaching, individual and guided reading. We value the children’s reading, by giving them access to a wide range of stories to share, as well as phonically decodable reading books, matched to the phase they are currently learning. Books are banded by colour, to ensure that children are accurately matched to the correct stage. Children not keeping up or making insufficient progress are identified quickly for ECaR sessions, phonics intervention  groups or daily individual reading.

As they progress into KS2, children transfer to the Accelerated Reader programme, where they are assessed termly for reading  progress and comprehension. Children then have access to a wide range of real texts, new and traditional authors and non fiction books, which are closely matched to their ability. Children in KS2 have a dedicated reading session during each day, where they work: at individual skills, in guided adult led groups or on comprehension activities. Children who make slower progress, are quickly identified for additional 1:1 reading or ECaR.

Children’s success in reading, is celebrated through our Karate reading cards, which awards wrist-bands for the frequency of children’s personal reading. Alongside this, children are given reading certificates and badges when they reach milestones recorded on AR. 

Good quality reading displays and appealing book corners are organised to engage, interest and draw children in. Books are replaced regularly by the English lead and new titles and popular author releases are purchased to keep children’s interest. We also host book fairs, younger and older children paired reading events and celebrate World Book Day annually. Children are encouraged to share their positive reading experiences, by recommending authors and sharing books they have enjoyed.

Children will also have regular opportunities to listen to stories or a class novel selected and read aloud by the teacher.


At St Stephens the English curriculum has been carefully organised in a sequential manner, to systematically build on the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding. They will encounter a broad range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry types and will be asked to write for a range of different audiences in a variety of genres. These will be carefully linked to the term’s theme, to ensure an immersion in rich, vocabulary, which will allow children to make strong links across the curriculum.

Learning is organised around a reading spine of age appropriate quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts, which the children are immersed in through reading, listening, talk for writing and story maps. Through these texts, children will learn about grammatical structures, punctuation, cohesion and text organisation. The children will plan, practise and apply these structures in their independent writing. The children will be given opportunities to edit and draft throughout the writing process and peer assess and evaluate their learning.


At St Stephens, we believe that ‘excellence is in everyone’. Therefore, we have organised our curriculum to ensure that children are both supported and challenged in their learning to achieve the best outcomes. We thoroughly immerse children in language and literature, which gives them the confidence to speak, read and write with fluency and accuracy.

The impact of this vocabulary rich, structured approach ensures that children will make at least good progress in speaking and listening, reading and writing during their journey through school. We strive to provide the children with excellent communication skills and expect most children to attain  age-related expectations or better at the end of each year. Children are closely monitored through personalisation plans and the school tracking system to ensure they achieve to the best of their potential, regardless of their starting point. The impact of our English curriculum ensures that children at St Stephens, leave the school, fully prepared to succeed in the next stage of their education.

Early Years

EYFS is a fundamental part of children’s development in all areas of communication and provides the foundations for the building blocks on which the children’s literacy and oracy skills are built.

From the outset, children will be given a wide range of opportunities to develop their spoken language skills, through structured talk, well planned role play areas and free flow play. Children in the Early years and nursery will enjoy a rich range of stories and nursery rhymes to start them on their reading journey. They will be introduced to Phase 1 phonics, as soon as they arrive in school and will have regular opportunities to develop their early reading skills through sharing books, rhymes and captions with adults.

Children will have access to a wide range of mark making tools and will have carefully planned activities to help develop their gross and fine motor skills. The children will have regular ‘funky finger’ sessions and daily muscle strengthening activities and will be taught correct letter formation and pencil grip from the outset. Children falling behind in any of these areas will have swift, targeted interventions to catch up.

The teaching and learning in all aspects of Early Years Foundation Stage will be based on Development Matters and concentrates on the Prime and Specific Areas.


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