Rationale for the English curriculum at Dringhouses

The English curriculum develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including the communication of their ideas, opinions and feelings. 

Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations. Teachers and pupils in our school usually use the term ‘English’ to describe the English curriculum. English skills will be taught and practised in many areas across the curriculum, and not just in ‘English’ lessons.

Aims of English learning at Dringhouses:

The scope of the English curriculum is wide and encompasses the development of the pupils’ ability to:

  • Ensure that children read independently, fluently and with good understanding for both pleasure and academic success.
  • To enable children to develop as enthusiastic and reflective readers, through engaging with a wide range of different types of material, including challenging and substantial texts that develop an appreciation our rich and varied literary heritage.
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
  • 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.
  • Be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
  • To enable and encourage pupils to apply their English skills across the whole curriculum.

Phonics at Dringhouses Primary

At Dringhouses Primary School the teaching and learning of Phonics is underpinned by the Letters and Sounds document that consists of six phases in which the children are taught to recognise phonemes, to blend (encode) and segment (decode) words and read key words (that are not always decodable). The Letters and Sounds structure is in place from Early Years through into Key Stage 1 and is enhanced by the use of Jolly Phonics actions and resources.

All children in EYFS and Year 1 are taught daily discrete phonics sessions which follows the Letters and Sounds teaching sequence of ‘revise, teach, practice, apply’. Pupils are tracked half-termly to monitor progress and identify any gaps in their learning which is then addressed through additional phonics sessions/interventions. Children in Early Years who need additional support attend daily ‘secret phonics’ sessions, which review previously taught graphemes whilst pre-teaching the next. In addition to this, individual children receive precision teaching linked to targeted graphemes and additional materials are sent home to support children in their learning. Children also take part in ‘Talk Boost’ and other small circle time based activities to develop the skills of this aspect of learning;

At the end of Year 1, all pupils sit the phonics screening check, which assesses if they have met the nationally expected standard. Any pupils who do not reach the national requirement at the end of Y1, continue to receive additional phonics teaching on a daily basis and re-sit the screening check at the end of Y2;

Opportunities for practising and extending phonic knowledge are provided through Areas of Provision (AOP) where children access games and activities to enhance their learning. In addition to daily phonics, children also access computer software, such as Phonics Play.

School leaders, teachers and teaching assistants are trained so the teaching of phonics is effective and every effort is made to involve families, in different ways.  We hold an annual introductory talk for Reception parents, together with a range of phonics workshops throughout the year, to illustrate first-hand how children are taught to read and write in the early years of school.

Parents are then encouraged to support children in their acquisition and application of their Phonics learning from Early Years into Key Stage 1. This is done through regular reading at home, with many of the children’s reading books in Early Years and Year 1 being phonically decodable.  Parents can also support their child with weekly phonics homework in which children are given words to read and spell that consolidate the learning that has taken place in the classroom that week.

Reading at Dringhouses

Reading is a key life-skill that is given an extremely high profile at Dringhouses Primary School. We are determined that every child will learn to read and develop a genuine love for reading that stays with them forever. Reading is a key part of all English lessons and takes place in a variety of different contexts and curriculum areas.

2021-2022 is the ‘Year of Reading’ at Dringhouses and we are using high quality, well-chosen texts to support our curriculum in both English and across other foundation subjects such as history, geography, art, design & technology, computing, and science. By using the same core text across the curriculum, we believe that children will not only be enthused by the texts, but also able to engage in a deeper understanding and discussion of literature.

Examples of our Autumn 1 high-quality texts are:


Shark in the Park

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Kipper’s Birthday and other stories

Year 1/2

Great women Who Changed the World

The Hospital Dog

Cops and Robbers

Burglar Bill

Year 3/4

The Pebble in my Pocket

Year 5/6

The White Giraffe

Little Red Riding Hood

All children are given a continuous experience of books and print across all areas of the curriculum. The classroom environments are rich with books and appropriate texts that will develop a love of reading, support the acquisition and application of vocabulary and build on the children’s knowledge. School staff model reading, embedding in children the idea of the importance of reading and how it supports us in our learning. Children are taught from the youngest age to value and care for books and all classrooms have a dedicated reading area. Every child in school has access to the school library and each class has a dedicated library session.

At Dringhouses Primary reading is taught in a variety of contexts:

  • Whole class shared reading
  • Small group guided reading sessions
  • Daily Phonics sessions
  • One to one reading with an adult
  • Bug Club activities and resources
  • Pupils’ independent book banded reading books

Reading is assessed on a regular basis using:

  • Notes made from guided reading group discussions against the year group expectations
  • Assessments taken during phonic sessions;
  • Discussion with parents/carers about individual reading material at home.
  • Book banded books with each class teacher completing a half termly book band tracker
  • Evidence of comprehension levels using book-banded activities and texts;
  • Library records of books and texts pupils have borrowed.
  • Individual Reading Journals;
  • Half termly comprehension tasks using Rising Stars tests;
  • Discussions during Learning Review meetings.

Parents/carers are encouraged to support their child by reading with them on a daily basis and making regular comments in their reading record, which are regularly checked by teachers. The frequency of children’s reading at home is supported and celebrated in all classrooms and certificates across the whole school through bronze, silver and gold charts. Parents can also support children in comprehension tasks that have been set as homework or with online reading resources provided by school.

We are very proud to have a fantastic, well-stocked library where children are able to take out book-banded books as well as independent readers. All classes visit the library at least once per week for an extended reading session and children are able to visit before and after school as well as during break times. Our librarian, Mrs Walker, is often on hand to support with book choices and stocking our wonderful library. We also have a superb team of junior librarians who work together to promote reading as well as keeping our library tidy and organised.

Reading at Dringhouses Primary is also promoted and celebrated through World Book Day, National Poetry Day and book fair events.

Writing at Dringhouses 

Learning Projects are carefully selected across the school to help provide further opportunities to engage and motivate pupils to read and write. Wherever possible, we encourage children to use and apply their learning in other areas of the curriculum, and will often use incidental opportunities to teach and reinforce English skills in other subject areas. This is particularly evident in our new Learning Project focus and teachers plan deeper connections between foundation subject areas and the high quality texts that the children are being exposed to.

  • Children are presented with daily writing opportunities through phonics activities, spelling, cross-curricular topics or a genre of English writing;
  • Texts and writing genres link to the learning project to ensure high stimulation and motivation as well as purpose;
  • Children work in a variety of ways to support their learning; work may be differentiated, they may work in mixed ability groups, have talk partners, work individually or be a similar ability; 
  • Children are motivated to write through drama activities;
  • Teacher modelling and scaffolding through shared writing, helps children record their ideas in the ensuing drafting and editing process;
  • Pupils in KS2 follow a drafting cycle, which is set up so that pupils draft their work first, receive instant feedback, edit their work the next day and then redraft into their English books. This is very much a two-way process and can involve self-assessment, teacher feedback or peer support in order to improve the writing fitting in with the ‘growth mindset’ approach that we are using in school.
  • As part of the writing process, children are taught to plan in a variety of ways (using drawings, labels, story hills, flow diagrams, storyboards etc.);
  • In Early Years and KS1 classrooms there are writing provision areas to encourage independent writing activities;
  • In every classroom, an English working wall supports the teaching and learning of writing with resources and examples that children can magpie into their own writing.
  • The use of chrome books, iPads and access to the internet enhances the writing experience and supports children’s learning;
  • Children in need of support have access to various resources such as spelling mats, word banks, pencil grips, privacy boards, writing mnemonics, word banks;
  • Writing in Y1, Y3, Y4 and Y5 is assessed using the National Curriculum expectations. In Y2 and Y6 writing is assessed against the end of Key Stage Interim Assessment Framework;
  • Writing is moderated frequently within the different age phase teams, the school cluster group and across the authority. Half termly book sampling take place to ensure continuity within the team and progression across phases;
  • Parents are encouraged to support their child with homework writing activities.

Handwriting at Dringhouses 

Cursive handwriting is taught explicitly from the very start of children’s learning journey at Dringhouses Primary. Children engage in a range of activities that develop gross and fine motor skills that will support them in their writing development as well as being explicitly taught how to hold a pencil using the correct grip. Children are taught about the leading line in and loop off and Debbie Hepplewhite resources are used to support the teaching and learning of handwriting. Particular attention is paid to the correct letter formation, size and consistency. Children are taught to write on the line with the correct spacing between words and to make ascenders and descenders long or tall. Handwriting practise is often combined with Phonics and spelling patterns that are being taught in the classroom so that children have a valuable and supportive context in which to develop and practise their skills. Children are taught to take pride in the presentation of their work and take care when writing in their books. If handwriting and presentation have reached an acceptable standard by Year 5, then children transfer from pencil to pen. It is expected that by Y6, all pupils are writing in pen.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar at Dringhouses 

We incorporate objectives from the Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling documents from the National Curriculum to ensure children are able to construct sentences accurately. There is a high proportion of whole-class teaching within English lessons, linked to the text type being taught. This is supported by and group and independent activity that gives children the opportunity to talk and collaborate, and so embed and enhance their learning. The teaching of SPAG is not solely done in English sessions and is incorporated into writing opportunities across the curriculum.  

Each week, children in Y2-Y6 are taught a spelling pattern or rule that is practised daily using a variety of activities and resources. The teaching and learning of spelling is supported by a variety of resources, such as Spelling Shed, word banks, phonic resources and dictionaries which help to extend children’s vocabulary and encourage them to incorporate this into their writing. Spelling words are given as homework at the end of each week and the rules explained to parents/carers to further support children. Spelling errors are identified by the teacher during marking and children respond by practising each mis-spelled word three times. Each class has a spelling jail in which commonly misspelt words are written for children to reference and practise.

Weekly discrete SPAG sessions are dedicated to a specific area of learning however opportunities are exploited across the curriculum. 

Our English subject leaders are Mrs Claire Scott-South and Mrs Helen Floyd

Please contact them for further information and/or take a look at these documents: 

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