Rationale and Aims

At Little Gaddesden School our intention is to deliver a highly effective and exciting English curriculum where all our pupils achieve success in their journey to becoming skilled and avid readers, articulate speakers and inspired writers.


We believe that the following three things are essential for success in reading:

Skill and Reading progression at Little Gaddesden

Reading for pleasure 

A love of reading is embedded in the culture of our school. Reading is an essential life skill that enables children to develop their learning across the wider curriculum as well as laying the foundations for success in future lines of study and employment. We enable our children to become confident, lifelong readers by enriching all our English learning through carefully designed teaching activities that utilise high quality stories and texts. This shared love of reading comes to life during our twice yearly whole school book weeks and celebrations. Our intent is that by securing strong language comprehension and word recognition children are moving from learning to read to reading to learn. 

A hIghly effective way of teaching phonics

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar words. The best way to deliver this is through a systematic synthetic phonics programme and at Little Gaddesden School we use the Sounds-Write programme as the primary tool for the teaching of reading. Sounds-Write is a comprehensive system to teach reading, spelling and writing and all teachers teaching phonics have received the appropriate certified training. 

Sounds-Write is taught in Reception and Year One and continues to be referred to throughout the curriculum beyond these year groups so that children can reliably decode any word using their phonic knowledge in any stage of their learning.

Our phonics screening success shows that Sounds-Write is a highly effective method of learning centred on letter sounds and phonics. It is structured, multi-sensory, incremental and code-oriented and provides an instructional approach to teaching children to read and spell.  It teaches all key elements of conceptual understanding, factual knowledge as well as the three essential skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation necessary for learning to read and spell and it does so on a daily basis until all children achieve the automaticity that underlies the fluency of every successful reader. 

In Reception we begin the initial code of the Sounds-Write Programme progressing to the more complex sounds in the Extended Code in Year One. (SW sequence of learning)  This daily teaching of discrete sessions progresses from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, covering all the major sound/spelling correspondences in a systematic sequence of lessons that build on one another, as well as providing plenty of opportunities to review and revisit previously taught knowledge ensuring that all our pupils are able to crack the phonics code.

All children are assessed regularly by their class teachers ensuring they are working at the appropriate level, with any gaps addressed through targeted interventions. We recognise that some children may require more opportunity for repetition and for their phonics learning to be broken down into smaller steps.

Language Comprehension

Getting the basics right in the Early Years and Key Stage One helps the children to develop automaticity with phonics because their working memory is freed up to focus on comprehension and fluency.

Motivated readers want to read aloud and we believe it is really important that children hear reading modelled aloud by adults. We therefore have a daily read-aloud programme and all staff have been trained in reading fluency. Alongside this, our use of the Talk4Writing programme helps our children move from being successful readers to successful writers as these two skills are inextricably linked. As well as teaching the children to read ‘strategically’ and with understanding this also develops their vocabulary. An interesting fact is that 90% of vocabulary is encountered when reading rather than in everyday speech. 

Our teachers select high quality and challenging texts to share with the whole class, ensuring that pupils encounter varied and interesting vocabulary as well as a range of forms, settings, themes, perspectives and information.


At Little Gaddesden School we believe that by creating confident readers we will develop the foundations for great writers and we strive to give our children the best start in establishing secure foundations in writing through our curriculum (See planning overview and curriculum map below). It is our intention that by the end of their primary education, all of our pupils will be able to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas effectively and with a developed awareness for purpose and audience.

Talk for Writing

We deliver English using the Talk for Writing approach. By focusing on the oral retelling of various text types, familiar structures become fully embedded in the long term memory so that the children can later apply these structures to their own writing whilst developing the language techniques taught for the particular area of focus. For example, children may be writing using the structure of a portal story whilst developing their understanding of what makes an effective setting description. 

Quality texts and reading spine Reading Spine

Core quality texts from our well-developed reading spine are the basis of our English planning and we strive to intrinsically integrate the teaching of reading and writing. Children engage deeply with carefully selected texts as we foster their ability to: read as readers, read as writers and finally write as readers. The primary aim of the reading spine is that we expose the children to a range of high quality literature over the course of their primary school life. In this way, we are able to assist the children in their development of a rich vocabulary and of texts which are written with careful precision to captivate their audience. Teachers create model texts for specific writing units which aim to demonstrate to the children the language techniques which are to be taught and developed. Typically, in a unit of work, the focus will be developed through internalisation and contextualisation of the model text where children deepen their understanding of a particular text type, exploring other examples through wider whole-class reading and later creating a ‘tool-kit’ for purposeful writing. Following sessions of deliberate practise, where children use ‘short-burst writing’ to develop the writerly tools and receive timely feedback in order to improve, children then write independently in order to fulfil their planned purpose. The writing process is always modelled by the teacher during shared writing sessions. Because talk plays a central role in our curriculum, both English and beyond, children quickly develop confidence whilst embedding their core communication skills and subsequently develop as articulate citizens.

Planning for progression

We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in literacy which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum.. Our Long Term Plans ensure a pathway of progression covering a range of fiction and non-fiction genres year on year which may be influenced by the core text and/or other curriculum learning ensuring a model of progression is sustained throughout school. In this way, children progressively develop their writing of different genres year on year, building on and deepening their writing skills.

Support for SEND and Lowest 20%

We have a determined approach that all children will meet or exceed the expected standard in reading primarily through our approaches in quality first teaching; offering a systematic reading curriculum where first, phonic knowledge is developed and deepened to build fluency and later, immersive, ambitious and challenging reading sessions support comprehension and contextualisation.

The EEF state that, “The best evidence shows that teaching is the most important lever available to schools to improve pupil outcomes.”

The following interventions are used in addition to quality first teaching in order to support those children who are working below the expected standard in reading:

  • Speech and Language intervention and support
  • Flashcards used to develop automaticity with High Frequency Words
  • Keep-up Intervention to support ‘Sounds-Write’ Phonics .
  • Continued implementation of reading fluency practise sessions using the three-part-read model throughout KS2 for those children identified as requiring continued, supported fluency practice.
  • Where the need is identified children will access 1:1 or small group fluency sessions on a more regular basis: these sessions develop children’s fluency, automaticity and basic comprehension.
  • Support for dyslexia through dyslexia-friendly texts / books

English – National Curriculum

English at Little Gaddesden – planning overview

English at Little Gaddesden – Road Map