At Usworth Colliery we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We are dedicated to promote and encourage a lifelong enjoyment and love of reading to create confident, independent readers. We strive to instil in our children the sense of excitement, fun and pleasure that can be derived through reading. We recognise the importance of cultivating a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts.We want our children to be good communicators, confident in the arts of speaking and listening and able to use discussion to advance their learning and to develop more sophisticated vocabulary.

We believe that a thorough grasp of literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.


The English National Curriculum covers reading, writing and speaking and listening.  We deliver English in a discrete daily session which cover all aspects.  We also have separate reading, phonics, handwriting, spelling and trio time sessions appropriate to the pupils in each year group.



Learning to read is one of the most important things that your child will learn to do at school. At Usworth Colliery Primary we encourage your child to develop a love for reading. We encourage all children to read a variety of literature both at home and school to engage them in their learning and to widen their experiences.

We use a range of phonics based reading schemes, including Oxford Reading Tree and Project X to support the development of our children’s reading skills. Books appropriate to the child’s ability are selected to ensure success and progression. All children are also given a reading book at an appropriate level to take home with an expectation of at least one book going home each week.  This varies according to age group, e.g. in reception/KS1 all pupils take home a phonics book, a reading scheme books and a library book.

The teachers read to the children so that the children get to know a variety of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing. We place high importance on staff reading to children so that they model reading skills and widen the children’s interests.

We ask for an adult to read with their child for at least 15 minutes every night, including weekends and school holidays. It is widely recognised regular practice allows children to develop their reading skills as well as enjoying a wide variety of texts and discovering the pleasure and excitement of reading.



In Guided Reading, we follow a whole class approach and encourage rich discussion amongst our pupils.  Work completed in these sessions will be recorded in English books, depending on the age and skills of the pupils. During each session, tier 2 vocabulary words will be explored to help pupils put meanings into context.  Texts chosen will be a range of fiction, non-fiction and real reading e.g., magazines, comics, and newspapers. There is a clear objective to each task and teachers follow a Reading Long Term Plan to ensure all groups are being taught relevant skills and the reading curriculum is being covered. Opportunities are given to pupils to explore texts in groups and apply skills independently using a range of strategies including the use of online platforms such as Reading Plus (KS2) and Lexia for some pupils across school. 

Pupils have access to a class library where they can explore age-appropriate books to promote and develop a love of reading. 



The National Curriculum divides writing into two dimensions:

  • Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • Composition (articulating ideas in speech and writing)

We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary.

Our Aims and Provision

  • We teach grammar as an integral part of all English lessons
  • We correct grammatical error orally/ written work (where appropriate)
  • We have a systematic approach, we revisit key learning and build upon it in all areas from phonics, through to grammar and spelling.
  • We use high quality texts, modelling and shared/ collaborative writing to demonstrate good practice.
  • We encourage and promote effective composition through clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
  • We provide writing frames to support the least confident
  • We provide time for planning, editing and revising
  • We mark extended pieces of work at the point of learning
  • We use marking ladders and feedback sheets for pupils to self-assess or peer assess, when appropriate so they can evaluate effectively
  • We encourage joined handwriting to support spelling and speed
  • We support pupils with learning and motor difficulties
  • We offer meetings with parents to help them support their child

We have a long term plan for the each year group which is progressive and challenging.


Vocabulary Development:

The National Curriculum makes clear that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ (p11) since it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts efficiently.

Vocabulary teaching needs to be:

  • Active
  • Progressive/ systematic
  • Making links from known words
  • Develop understanding of shades of meaning
  • Include ‘instruction verbs’ used in examinations
  • Subject specific- accurate mathematical and scientific words

Our Aims and Provision:

We encourage our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, these include:

  • Using the correct vocabulary orally
  • In-depth word based lessons looking at patterns
  • Using dictionaries, thesaurus and similar programmes
  • Targeted small group support, where appropriate


We use Letter and Sounds as the main phonics programme to introduce our children to reading and writing of sounds/words. We deliver this programme in a fun and exciting way through our Batty Land stories.  All of the aspects from the scheme are used in the following way:

  • We teach pupils in EY and KS1 a discrete phonics session daily lasting approximately 20 minutes.
  • We ensure pupils needing phonics teaching in Key Stage 2 will also have a discrete session daily.
  • A session consists of speedy sounds, introduction of new sound via say, read then write format and word time which involves children writing words in sentences not just in isolation.
  • We share this approach to phonics teaching with parents during a workshop when their child enters Reception.


Spellings in EYFS to Year 2 are taken from the phonics programme and the National Curriculum Expectations.

In KS2 classes are taught spellings from the English National Curriculum following the No Nonsense Spelling Programme.

Our Aims and Provision:

  • We ensure pupils’ learning is assessed throughout the programme.
  • We offer opportunities for pupils to apply part of the sequence regularly.
  • We include assessment activities to identify if pupils have learnt the key concept taught. These activities include: testing – by teacher and peers, dictation, explaining, independent application in writing, frequent learning and practise of statutory and personal words.


The presentation of written work can not only reflect on an individual’s fine motor skills but also the nature of the writer through his/her awareness of, and attention to, an audience’s needs. We aim ultimately for our children to develop a fast flowing, attractive, legible, personal hand. To achieve this is a consistent approach to the teaching of handwriting across the whole curriculum and key stages.

Our Aims and Provision:

  • Cursive handwriting is started in Year 2 and follows the Letter Join scheme.
  • Handwriting lessons are timetabled daily following the scheme.
  • Teachers are expected to demonstrate correct size and formation and then observe children copying, intervening where necessary.
  • We encourage pupils to take pride in their presentation.
  • We aim to make a smooth transition from printing to a joined up style.

Speaking and listening

We encourage our pupils to speak clearly and confidently and articulate their views and opinions. We teach that children need to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose. Listening and responding to literature, giving and receiving instructions. They develop the skills of participating effectively in group discussions.

Ways in which we support this include:

  • Activities which are planned to encourage full and active participation by all children, irrespective of ability
  • Children with specific speech and language and auditory problems will be identified and specialist help sought, where appropriate
  • Performance Poetry
  • School Plays
  • Class debates
  • Weekly assembly
  • Events within the community
  • School Council
  • Talk partners
  • Drama / role play
  • PSHE and circle time

Reading Plus

Developing Early Reading Skills – Letters and Sounds 

Throughout Reception and Years 1 and 2, children participate in a daily phonics session. Whilst we follow the Letters and Sounds scheme, we teach the letter sounds using Batty Phonics stories, which allows the pupils to learn the sounds through stories, actions and dance.  It helps children to hear the sound, recognise the letter and write the letter correctly, as well as write and read words/sentences.  This is then extended to introduce the remaining letter sounds, including vowel digraphs (‘ai’, ‘ee’, etc), consonant digraphs (‘th’, ‘st’, etc) and split digraphs (‘o-e’ as in bone). 

Each lesson the pupils

  • revise their previous learning 
  • hear/see sounds/words and say them 
  • say sounds/words and write them
  • Applying their learning through reading and writing sentences/words/phrases.

All batty phonics stories

At the end of Year 1, children have to complete a Phonic Screener Test along with every Year 1 child in the whole country. For the past few years children have had to read 32 words out of 40, in order to pass. If a child does not pass then they have to re-sit the screener in Year 2. Below are slides from a presentation given to Year 1 parents about the screener.

Year 1 Phonic Check 2018

Batty Basics

Reading Presentation to Parents

Useful Phonics Websites for Parents lots of information and guidance for parents/carers a selection of interactive games for all phonic phases. Mostly simple games. a great selection of games that link well with games in Letters and Sounds. printable resources for each of the Letters and Sounds phonic phases, also links to games aligned with each phase.

Activities for all phases  Phonic game with choice of difficulty (some HFWs, some vowel blends, very varied)

Make any words with this useful game. Useful page which demonstrates pronunciation of all sounds

worksheets for-

  • consonant and vowel recognition,
  • initial consonant sounds,
  • beginning and end blends,
  • consonant diagraphs,
  • silent letters,
  • long vowel sounds,
  • Phase 3 and 5 sounds.

a good selection of resources including worksheets and some interactive games. Covers-

  • Phase 3 and 5 sounds
  • Phase 6 work such as prefixes and suffixes, plurals and tense worksheets.
  • extensive list of long vowel worksheets and games such as hangman.