English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. 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. 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.


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.

Spoken language (Speaking and Listening)

The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Speaking and listening is a high priority from the moment children start and opportunities for developing this are woven across the curriculum. We use debate, discussion and drama to encouraging high level thinking and engagement, as well as giving the children opportunities to hear speaking and listening for different purposes.

Phonics and spelling

Phonics is prioritised from Reception upwards. In KS1, phonics is taught daily for a period of 30 minutes. We use Letters and Sounds to drive teaching and learning and to ensure coverage. Targeted phonics interventions are used across the school to support rapid progress for those children who are working below national expectations. A robust tracking system is used to ensure no child is left behind. In Early Years and KS1, spelling is embedded with the phonics that the children are taught. In KS2 spelling teaching is both discrete and embedded. Additionally, the children learn spelling patterns and rules through high quality texts during their lessons. The marking code is used to highlight the importance of spelling in all subject areas and to help address misconceptions. We teach phonics through Letters and Sounds.


Reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:

  • word reading
  • comprehension (both listening and reading).

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading.

Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.

Reading is taught initially through shared stories (EYFS) leading to more formal ‘Daily Supported Reading’ in Reception and Year 1. This is a reading programme that ensures all children have daily opportunities to read independently, in small groups, at their ability level with a trained adult. This continues into early Year 2 alongside Guided Reading sessions. In Key Stage 2 these Guided Reading sessions continue with a focus on key strategies for comprehending messages and accessing information.

Reading at Hollydale School

At Hollydale school we take a great pride in our children’s attitude to and love of reading. Events such as Book Week have paved the way for a real enthusiasm in developing the essential skill of reading. Learning to read the words on a page is just one small part of developing a lifelong enjoyment of reading and an ability to use reading to discover new things. Our aim at Hollydale School is to help children become independent readers who enjoy reading and learn from it.

Taking a book to read at home is just one part of our children’s reading diet. At Hollydale School children enjoy reading books they have chosen quietly in our class reading corners, in the library, with a peer or supporting a younger child as a reading buddy. They enjoy reading a range of different texts with staff during a wide variety of lessons to support their learning. They also read individually with a teacher,  teaching assistant or Volunteer reader.

Each child’s reading diet is specifically tailored to their individual interests and need. We use the Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat scheme which offer a wide choice of new texts which include Traditional tales, Classics, a range of up to date and relevant non-fiction texts, poetry and even Graphic Novels.

At school, children develop a range of reading skills throughout the curriculum including whole class sessions, one to one reading and reading independently.  Staff and volunteers regularly record information about the reading your child has done at school in their reading record.  This will be in the form of a comment or a sticker.  Below is some information about the ways in which we teach children to read at school.

Whole class teaching – Whole class teaching happens throughout the day.  Children are exposed to a wide range of texts in Literacy and across all areas of the curriculum, both fiction and non-fiction.  They use their reading skills to find and interoperate information across a wide range of subjects. Specific reading objectives are targeted through exercises such as ‘Text Talk’, Independent Reading, Reading a class text and Comprehension Skills.  These objectives are varied as required depending on the needs of the individual children.

Reading with a teacher – All children can expect to have a small group reading session regularly with a teacher.  During these reading sessions the teacher will target specific children to read with the aim of focusing on a specific objective as well as discussing the text and supporting the child’s enthusiasm and engagement in a wide range of texts in order to support the development of positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read.

Reading with a TA – All children will have the opportunity to read with a TA regularly.  Some children will, based on specific needs, be daily or weekly readers with a TA.  TAs will focus on specific objective as well as discussing the text and supporting the child’s enthusiasm and engagement in a wide range of texts in order to support the development of positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read.

Reading with a volunteer – Some children will, based on individual need, be daily or weekly readers with a trained Volunteer.  Volunteers will focus on specific objective as well as discussing the text and supporting the child’s enthusiasm and engagement in a wide range of texts in order to support the development of positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read.

Reading with a buddy – Some children from UKS2 have weekly reading sessions with a Buddy in EYFS and KS1. The Buddy’s focus with be discussing the text and supporting the child’s and engagement in a wide range of texts in order to support the development of positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read.

What we read:

In class reading provision – Every classroom has a dedicated reading area in which children have access to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts.  If a specific text is not available they are able to request it.  Children are also given access to a wide range of ‘real’ texts throughout the curriculum.

Reading Passports – Children across KS2 are given a ‘Reading Passports’. The passports suggest a range of books for the child to read independently. The purpose of Reading Passports is to encourage children to read and enjoy a wide range of different authors and texts; this will support them develop new interests and find new favourite authors. In year 5 and 6 these cards are personalised and children are given the opportunity to recommend books to each other.

Yr 2 Ruby ‘I really like it when my reading buddy helps me out with my reading. I am also really enjoying my book.’

Yr 2 Harley ‘I like it when I learn new words and my partner helps me with the meaning so I understand.’

Yr 6 Tomi ‘It’s really nice to help the younger children with their reading and teach them something new.’

Yr 6 Hawa ‘It makes you proud when the children learn a new word, I feel proud.’


Writing at key stages 1 and 2 consists of two dimensions:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

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. High expectations in handwriting are developed and maintained from EYFS upwards, with emphasis placed on correct letter and number formation being developed and maintained in all writing.

Lessons are taught through the use of high quality core texts, which are linked to the curriculum topic. The teaching sequence begins with the immersion of the children within the text through the use of an engaging starting point, drama, speaking and listening activities, and gathering initial ideas. Grammar objectives are then taught and developed in the context of the text with the children then applying these skills by writing a variety of different text types. This includes through teacher modelling, supported and shared writing, and task-led independent writing. Children are given regular opportunities to write for different purposes and audiences across the curriculum, as well as developing their ability to write at length.

Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and glossary
Opportunities to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, pupils will learn to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. Pupils will also learn how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning.

English Displays Autumn 2017

Writing Outcomes in English and across the Curriculum

High Quality Cross Curricular Outcomes

Target Setting

What do parents say about English at Hollydale?

“Hollydale expands literacy outside the classroom with its strong connection with Nunhead Library, working with organisations such as Debate Mate and project based homework. This has developed my child’s awareness of researching subjects, reading from a range of materials and developing her own ideas.” Tracey Francis, 2017

“I get completely blown away every time I listen to my children read. Hollydale has encouraged them to read from a wide range of genres, teaches them to write brilliantly using descriptive vocabulary and speak articulately. The  progress my children are making in reading, writing and speaking expressively is simply exemplary and outstanding. ” Nike Akingbade 2017

“I’m so pleased with the progress my child is making with her reading and writing at Hollydale. My daughter is in Year 2 and can already use a range of literary devices and reads fluently with great expression. Her handwriting is better than mine!” Patrick Sweeney 2017

“I have been really impressed with the progress my children have made with their reading at Hollydale. This school is excellent at promoting the pupils’ interest in books, authors and the different forms that writing can take. It feels like Literacy is at the heart of school life at Hollydale.” Jess Heather 2017

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