Norton St Nicholas C of E (VA) Primary and Nursery School

Guided by God, we live, learn and love.




Purpose of study

English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. 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. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils need to learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently in order to thrive in life.

Phonics and early reading are especially vital in providing all children with the chance to become successful and fluent readers. It supports children in developing their core reading and writing skills.




When children leave KS1 at Norton St Nicholas they will:

  • Be successful and fluent readers.
  • Have developed a love of reading that extends beyond the classroom, allowing them to build on their skills through a curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
  • Be able to use their sound knowledge of phonics as a key strategy in supporting their spelling and writing skills.

When children leave Norton St Nicholas they will:


  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding and confidence
  • have developed the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • have acquired a wide vocabulary through reading a variety of rich texts, both fiction and non-fiction
  • be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas in discussions about texts


The curriculum

In Early Years and Year 1, the primary focus of our teaching of reading is to ensure all children are able to decode words so they can read fluently. This is done through:

  • Daily phonics sessions -These are critical so that children can understand what sounds are and how they can be blended together to read words, then sentences. Phonics is taught systematically and should include whole word recognition and phoneme awareness. We teach phonics through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme.
  • Guided reading groups in Early Years and Year 1 – This is a planned guided reading session for each child to ensure the development of word recognition (in context) and language comprehension. There is a clear teaching sequence (intro, strategy check, independent reading (including pre-read) and return and respond) and ‘double dosing’ of target groups, which has proved to be very effective for progress.
  • Individual reading (daily for those who need it)
  • Daily shared reading (including English lessons) – The focus here is on the adult modelling and developing fluent reading (including re-reading, self-correcting, use of punctuation, decoding words etc.) and modelling age related reading behaviours. There is opportunity to talk about the text and vocabulary and develop and encourage literal and inferential comprehension to scaffold new understanding. It is useful to use big books or the visualiser for this.

In Years 2 through to Year 6, reading is taught as a whole-class group at least 3 times per week, rather than in smaller groups. This means all pupils are having a far greater amount of quality first teaching per week. We use the acronym VIPERS to structure the teaching of reading. Each strand focuses on a different reading skill that must be explicitly taught.

V - Vocabulary

I - Infer

P - Prediction

E - Explain

R - Retrieve

S – Sequence (KS1) or Summarise (KS2)

Early Reading - Parent Workshop

Still image for this video
In February 2022, Mrs Brown led a session on how we teach early reading at school and how you can support your child with their reading at home. We've recorded this session and hope you find it helpful.
This is the link to the parents' section of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds which is mentioned in the presentation:



Purpose of study

To provide a high-quality education that will teach pupils to write and communicate fluently. We recognise that literature plays a key role in the development of children culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised. We will develop pupils’ writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge.

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

§ transcription (spelling and handwriting)

§ composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

Our teaching will develop pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. This will require pupils being taught to plan, revise and evaluate their writing; these aspects are planned into our units of work.  Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. The writing the pupils do will include narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations.




At Norton St Nicholas we will ensure that all pupils:

  • acquire a wide vocabulary; this is key to learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Through using high quality texts within English lessons, teachers will actively build up and make links between pupils’ current store of words. This will expand the vocabulary choices available to them when they write.
  • develop a secure understanding of the correct use of grammar and punctuation; referring to the specific features that should be covered in each year group
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation
  • use discussion and drama in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas before writing them down.
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening; spoken language underpins the development of writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for writing


The curriculum

At Norton St Nicholas, English is taught four times a week. There is also cross-over with other subjects as links are explicitly made by teachers every time pupils write. We also have short 10 minute daily sessions to practise or repeat learnt skills for grammar (‘5 a day SPAG’). The explicit teaching of spelling rules is taught three times a week for 20 minutes and again, reinforced within all lessons across the curriculum.

Teachers follow our English overview which sets out the coverage for their pupils. We use planning units designed by Herts for Learning, making adaptations to take into account the needs of each class. We recognise the importance of children having a very good understanding of what a sentence is so this is the focus of teaching throughout Key Stage 1 as a basis for more advanced sentence structures in Key Stage 2. Each year group’s grammar content is introduced alongside what has been covered previously.

We start each new term with a whole school ‘Explore and Engage’ unit from Hertfordshire. All year groups use the same text as a basis for their writing, providing an opportunity to promote and celebrate writing across the school. For Spelling, we use ‘Essential Spelling’ which provides a clear structure for the explicit teaching of rules and strategies.