Curriculum – English


At Burghfield St. Mary’s our intention is to develop the children’s love of reading, writing and discussion through a quality English curriculum underpinned by the principles of Talk for Reading and Talk for Writing.

We aim to inspire an understanding and appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We want the children to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately, and develop an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns structures and origins. We help them to adapt their language and style for a range of contexts across the curriculum.

We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and be able to use discussion to communicate ideas, views and feelings as well as further their learning. We believe there should be clear progression as they advance through the primary curriculum providing a secure basis in literacy skills crucial to a high quality education as well as the life-long tools for success. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014.


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.



At Burghfield St. Mary’s School we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in English lessons supported by the Talk for Writing and Talk for Reading principles. Our aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills, and understanding in English through whole-class shared reading and writing, guided groups and independent activities, and be able to use and apply their learning in other areas of the curriculum. Our scheme of work is rigorous and well organised providing purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. It has been developed to ensure that all statutory requirements of the National Curriculum are taught.


Reading sessions take place in all classes across the school in addition to English lessons.  Talk for Reading is the guiding principle promoting whole class guided reading. In KS2, class sets of high quality reading books are provided to all the children to enable more in depth discussion in the classroom. In KS1 one book is shared through the visualizer. This ensures that all children, regardless of their ability to read, have access to the same high quality discussions over meaning and interpretation. These books are carefully chosen in line with Pie Corbett’s Reading Spine suggestions (see appendix B).  Whole class guided reading takes place alongside guided groups.  Guided groups use books matched to the children’s reading ability.

As well as the Talk for Reading and Writing texts used in English lessons and guided reading sessions, we teach the children to read fluently and accurately through a structured scheme based on Book Banding and individual choice. The children are expected to take home books to read on a regular basis. Daily opportunities are provided for children to read particularly in the early stages of reading development. Hearing children read individually allows teachers to assess and develop the child’s reading skills in fluency and pace, and to monitor their progress. As the children grow into more confident readers, further comprehension skills are developed.

Further Reading Opportunities

Our school operates a ‘Reading Buddies’ scheme where the older children share books with the younger children.

From the library, the children are able to choose from a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books. The upkeep of the library is supported by the library monitors in Year 5.

The importance of a positive reading environment is recognised through the provision of engaging ‘book corners’ in classrooms. This provides opportunities for individual selections during quiet reading sessions of a variety of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dictionaries and thesauruses. The dictionaries and thesauruses are also used to support writing. Displays around the school also encourage and value a love of reading.

We also provide other opportunities, from hosting visiting authors, ensuring that children benefit from access to positive role models from the local and wider locality, participating and promoting World Book Day, sharing book reviews in Children’s assembly, participating in the local library Summer reading scheme and holding a Book fair twice a year where children and parents are able to purchase highly discounted books.



The Talk for Writing principles of Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application underpin the English lessons taught throughout the school (see appendix C). Through the process of cold and hot tasks, text mapping, editing (making additions, revisions, and proof reading) we teach the accurate use of spelling, punctuation and grammar in order to help children communicate their ideas clearly and confidently.  Opportunities for writing are provided not just in English lessons but across the whole curriculum. 



An agreed cursive handwriting style is taught throughout the school and is supported by ‘Letter-Join’, an interactive handwriting programme. See Appendix D for specific letter formation and application.



The teaching of spelling follows the requirements of the National Curriculum.  In FS2 and Year 1 the children use their phonic knowledge to spell. In Year 1, the children are taught to apply simple spelling rules. In Year 2 the children are taught alternative spellings for the GPCs already covered in Reception/Year 1. In KS1, the common exception words are continually taught and revised throughout the year and assessed termly. In KS2, the statutory word lists and spelling rules for each Year group are taught through The Herts for Learning Essential spelling scheme.  Tests are also used to establish spelling ages.


Daily Phonics lessons take place in FS2 and KS1. Reception and Year 1 classes use the Floppy’s Phonics programme to support the teaching of each phoneme. Year 2 revises the GPCs and covers the alternative spellings using Phonics International materials.



Speaking and Listening

The children are taught to listen to other speakers as well as develop their competence in communicating their ideas clearly, confidently in a variety of different contexts. We recognise the importance of valuing all contributions. The children talk through their ideas, explain to others and through talking, develop their understanding of whatever text is being studied.



The use of Talk for Writing in our school has provided all the children with opportunities to explore language patterns through oral storytelling and text learning.

Talk for Writing is based on how children learn. It places the learner, through formative assessment, at the heart of the planning, teaching and learning process”.

Creating Storytellers and Writers – Pie Corbett & Julia Strong 2017

They can tell stories confidently through actions and have the skills to plan, write and improve their writing. Using high quality texts the children are able to hear language patterns, say them and explore them so they really know the patterns and vocabulary well. Through Talk for Reading, all of our children have access to high quality literature. This has meant that every child, regardless of their ability to read, has access to the discussions about vocabulary and meaning. Children’s skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening enable them to communicate and express themselves in all areas of their work in school.

We are developing a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their emerging literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas.