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Curriculum Intent

At Belsay Primary School, English (especially reading) is at the heart of everything we do, and we want our children to feel inspired whilst developing their reading and English skills . We have a broad and balanced English curriculum that provides many opportunities for our children to develop their reading, writing and oracy skills. We are committed to our children being good communicators, so they can express their thoughts and ideas fluently and enable them to access and, most importantly, enjoy the wider school curriculum too.

Our English curriculum matches the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to:

  • 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.



Reading is our highest academic priority at Belsay Primary School and our aspiration is that children will become lifelong readers who are enthusiastic, engaged and who love to read. Children are immersed in a range of good quality fiction and non-fiction texts as well as poetry books in guided reading sessions, library time and in their book spines in each classroom.

We follow the Read Write Inc approach with fidelity to the scheme in Reception and KS1. Some children in KS2 also do RWI where needed. Children in UKS2 access the Fresh start element of RWI. Children who require extra support in Reception and KS1 will access an additional, same-day keep-up session tailored to meet their individual needs around recognition of phonemes or blending; this will follow the RWI fast track approach. 

In Reception phonics is taught through daily lessons. Children start in a whole class teaching group where they are exposed to Set 1 sounds. Children are then assessed and placed in a group to match their reading ability. The books that the children read carefully match the child’s phonic knowledge. By the end of Reception children are able to read with accuracy and fluency. 

In KS1 children build on the phonic skills taught in Reception. RWI is taught for 20 minutes each day where children are exposed to a speed sound and story book lesson. Children are grouped according to ability allowing the children to be both encouraged and challenged at the appropriate level. 

All children accessing phonics are assessed every half term to ensure no child falls behind. This ensures children who are struggling are targeted using a quick and rigorous approach of intervention and additional class focus. 

Children who have completed the phonics screening successfully and are secure with phonics and reading, will then move on to Reading plus. This is an online reading scheme that requires the children to complete an insight reading assessment. Children are then able to read texts at the appropriate level based on their reading level, comprehension and vocabulary level. The programme is able to adapt to the child’s ability. 

Children in KS2 and UKS2 complete four focused reading sessions each week These are reading plus, guided reading using Big Cat books, VIPERS (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and sequencing and summarise) as well as an individual reading session where children are heard reading by the class teacher. 

Each class has story time every day. This is when an adult will read aloud to the children and the children are required to listen, join in and ask and answer questions about the story. Each class has carefully selected spine books that will be read to the children, as well as lots of the children and teachers favourite books to read as well. 

Our English lessons are based on high-quality texts and we strive to follow the four stages to the writing process which are:

  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Redrafting

We believe that each of these stages are crucial for the development of good quality writing and the children receive thorough feedback at various stages of this process through a balance of live marking, peer assessment, shared and modelled writing, verbal and written feedback. We encourage independence so children can self-edit and become more confident and risk-taking in their writing.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling are embedded in lessons as well as being taught separately when required. Children are given lots of opportunities to see how grammar is used in a variety of contexts and are able to apply the features in their independent writing. Spellings are taught through phonics and learning particular spelling rules and strategies.

Speaking and Listening

Oracy is a key focus of our English curriculum (and everything that we do) as we believe that by improving spoken language skills, we are enabling children to communicate effectively and have a voice to be able to express their thoughts and ideas effectively. Children are encouraged to be active listeners and develop points made by their peers in a thoughtful and considerate way. We encourage using a rich vocabulary in discussions. Debates, paired work, presentations, drama and group work are part of our usual practice.