English: Reading & Writing

A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.

We are proud to work in partnership with 'Read, Write, Inc.' to support the teaching of phoncis and  ‘The Literacy Tree’, using a thematic book based approach to primary English.



The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

The national curriculum for English aims to 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.


There are four strands to the English curriculum:

  1. Spoken language
  2. Reading including phonics – encompassing word reading and comprehension (listening and reading)
  3. Writing – encompassing transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
  4. Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation



Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.

They are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.


Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
At Van Gogh Primary, phonics is taught from Nursery and throughout KS1 in discrete daily lessons. The complexity of sounds progresses through from Phase 1, where children become attuned to the sounds around them, through to phase 6 where they use their well-developed sounding and blending skills to decode unfamiliar words with increasing accuracy as well as fine-tune their spelling skills.
Each of the sounds (phonemes) is taught with an accompanying action to help children learn and remember them.

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