Thornham St James’ CE Primary School

 English Policy

 Updated March 2018


The Contribution of English to the School’s Curriculum

At Thornham St James’ we recognise the crucial importance of studying the English language. Confident performance in reading, writing and spoken language will enable our pupils to express their thoughts and ideas fluently, accurately and, ultimately to their own satisfaction. This will also help them to deal successfully with other areas of the curriculum, while enriching their lives beyond school. The teaching and learning of language skills are, therefore, given a high priority in our school and we are proud of what this results in as our children leave us as articulate and literate young people journeying on to High School and beyond.

Our overarching aim for English is to promote the highest standards possible of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word and to develop a love of literature through widespread reading for knowledge, understanding and enjoyment.

We aim for our pupils to:

  • 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 the 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 Thornham St James’ we encourage all children to become independent learners and confident in all aspects of learning. The children are given opportunities to speak in a variety of contexts and learn to listen to and value the views of others.


Statutory Requirements

Statutory Requirements for the teaching and learning of English are laid out in the National Curriculum in England: Framework Document (2014).


Curriculum Delivery

In reception through to year 6, children are taught English within their classes. Through differentiation and support of Teaching Assistants, all children receive high quality teaching and appropriate support in order for every child to reach their full potential. Children may receive additional support if necessary outside of English lessons, so that more specific individual needs are planned for and met.

A clear lesson objective and success criteria are a feature of all English lessons, with working walls supporting learning in lessons when necessary. Evaluative marking is used by teachers with room for self- and peer-assessment built into some of the planned activities. Assessment informs planning and reference is made to the National Curriculum in medium term plans. The use of computing enables children to use and apply their developing skills in English in a variety of ways. We encourage children to use ICT as a resource for learning, whenever appropriate.

We provide a rich and varied experience for pupils to draw on in their writing and reading which should include the whole curriculum.


Approaches to Speaking and Listening

The four strands of speaking and listening – speaking, listening, group discussion and drama – permeate the whole curriculum. Interactive teaching strategies are used to engage all pupils in order to raise reading and writing standards. Children are encouraged to develop effective communication skills in readiness for later life. We aim for children to be able to speak clearly, fluently and coherently, to be able to listen attentively with understanding, pleasure and empathy and contribute to group discussions effectively.

We achieve this by:

  • Giving our children confidence in themselves as speakers and listeners by showing them that we value their conversations and opinions. We also encourage a respect for the views of others.
  • Being aware that as adults, we provide a model of speakers and listeners in our day-to-day interactions with them and with other adults in our school.
  • Helping them to articulate their ideas and provide purposes and audiences for talk within a range of formal and informal situations and in individual, partner, group and class contexts.
  • By providing opportunities to perform to a larger audience, in assemblies and productions, where children’s efforts and skills are acknowledged by staff, parents, grandparents, carers, visitors and peers.
  • By providing a range of experiences where children can work collaboratively and participate in opportunities to reflect on talk and explore real and imagined situations through role-play, hot-seating, drama and discussions.
  • By developing children’s ability to listen with attention and understanding in all areas of the curriculum and where necessary, asking and responding to questions appropriately.


Approaches to Phonics

The teaching of phonics is embedded within English teaching in each class. Additional provision is made in EYFS/KS1 each day through discrete phonics sessions. These comprise of learning of different graphemes, focusing on oral and aural phonological skills and sight vocabulary. During these sessions children are also shown how to apply their developing skills to their writing. See the school’s phonics policy for further detail.


Approaches to Reading

Pupils have the opportunities to undertake guided, shared and independent reading throughout the school. A staged reading scheme, in the form of Ginn 360, is used as the ‘backbone’ of our approach to teaching reading. The Oxford Reading Tree and the New Way Reading schemes in EYFS and KS1, along with Oxford Junior Readers, Trackers and Lightening Readers in KS2, supplement this. Children read to their class teachers at least twice in KS1 and once in KS2. More often with the help of a TA if this is deemed necessary.

We believe that children should experience as wide a variety of reading materials as possible and to this end well-stocked class libraries provide children with ‘free-choice’ books, which they read at least once a day, during ‘quiet reading ‘ time (taking place immediately after lunchtime break and during the afternoon registration period).

 Reading Age tests are undertaken termly to identify those who may need extra support and as a measure of progress. TA staff are deployed throughout the school to work with children in order to improve their fluency, intonation, decoding skills and comprehension.

Home reading is encouraged and we see this as an essential part of a child’s development. In order to encourage home/school cooperation children are supplied with a record book to indicate what the child has read and discussed, what the teacher would like them to prepare for their next reading session and what comprehension task the child must complete for their next read. Reading skills tasks are set once a child reaches Stage ???? in the Ginn 360 scheme.

Children have the opportunity to use books from the school library, which has a wide range of non-fiction /information books, in order to undertake independent research and, in addition, all classrooms have a good selection of topic-based books.

An annual book week is held along with a book week (and book character days) during the Autumn term to promote further interest in reading and with the added benefit of raising funds for Literacy resources in school.


Approaches to Writing

To develop our children as writers we:

  • Treat children as writers, from the earliest stage, who have ideas that they will want to communicate, building on writing skills they have acquired and their knowledge of print from their environment.
  • Provide experiences where the children can acquire confidence and a positive attitude to writing.
  • Develop and sustain writing skills by providing opportunities for children to write for a range of purposes and audiences.
  • Use guided writing sessions to model writing skills, teaching children how to plan, compose, amend and revise their writing.
  • Teach children to become critical readers of their own writing by using self-evaluation and checking their work independently for sense, accuracy and meaning.
  • Teach grammar and punctuation in the context of children’s own writing, as well as through discrete lessons for acquiring particular skills.
  • Teach children to develop their ability to organise and present imaginative and/or factual writing and poetry in different ways.
  • Teach strategies for spelling to enable children to become confident and competent spellers.

The school follows the revised Brodie ‘Spelling for Literacy’, alongside work supplemented by the class teacher, which enables children to work on spelling patterns and sight words appropriate to the age group. This is in line with the National Curriculum for spelling. Identified children receive extra spelling and phonics support from TAs, using the ‘Letters and Sound’ phased spelling patterns.


Handwriting Approaches

Handwriting begins in the EYFS with mark-making and patterns. All pupils are given access to a wide range of writing tools and mediums to practise the early fine motor skills. The needs of left-handed children, or those with physical difficulties are also taken into consideration and where necessary accommodated with resources of specific intervention.

Pupils are encouraged to develop fluent lines of correctly oriented letters from an early age and emergent writing is encouraged. At Thornham St James’ we believe that this approach goes hand-in-hand with over/under and copy writing. We believe that discrete handwriting sessions where children’s formation and pencil grip can be readily overseen should take place at least once a week, if not more, especially in the reception / year one classes. Correct posture and positioning of paper or books are also emphasized during these sessions. Letter formation and handwriting is taught and modeled using a range of resources, the main one being the teacher themselves!

The national expectation at the end of year 6 is that children will join their handwriting. At Thornham St James’ we begin this process as far back as year two with discrete lessons teaching individual letter joins. We use the Nelson Handwriting textbooks to aid progression. As the children move into KS2 they are encouraged to think about the presentation of their work and to develop clear, legible and fluent handwriting.


Cross-curricular links and Computing

Teachers seek to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links where relevant. They plan for pupils to practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through English lessons to other areas of the curriculum.


Assessment and Target Setting

Work is assessed in line with the Assessment policy.

  • Teachers use developmental feedback in order to identify where children have included elements of success criteria and set next steps targets. This can take the form of an up to ‘3 stars and a wish’ marking comment.
  • Children are given the opportunity to revisit their work in order to make improvements.
  • Summative assessment is used three times a year in order to assess the children’s writing against year group expectations.
  • Writing targets are generated as a result of this more intensive writing task.
  • Reading ages are assessed through the Salford Reading Test termly and the Primary Reading Test at the end of each school year.
  • Reading is assessed through ‘Focus’ materials.
  • Spelling and Grammar is assessed through ‘Focus’ materials.
  • End of KS1 and KS2 SATs are undertaken in May with results reported to parents.

Note: The school is currently investigating other summative assessment schemes, but have yet to meet one that fully satisfies our requirements.



We aim to provide for all children so that they achieve as highly as they can in English according to their individual abilities. We identify which pupils, or groups of pupils, are under-achieving and take steps to improve their attainment. More able pupils are identified and suitable challenge is given to them.

  • Children with identified SEND in English receive tailored support (planned by the class teacher) both in class, when appropriate and delivered by TAs either individually or in a small group.
  • Children who are identified as having additional needs with reading, receive extra support from TAs.
  • More able children are identified and challenged appropriately within English lessons.


Equal Opportunities

All children are provided with equal access to the English curriculum. We aim to provide suitable learning opportunities regardless of gender, ethnicity or home background.


The Role of the English Coordinator

The English Coordinator, along with the Headteacher, is responsible for maintaining and improving the standards of the teaching and learning in English through the monitoring and evaluation of the subject. This includes:

  • Monitoring of pupil progress
  • Conference with pupils regarding all areas of English
  • Analysing data
  • Monitoring the provision of English in line with the subject monitoring policy
  • Taking the lead in policy development
  • Auditing and supporting colleagues in their CPD
  • Purchasing and ordering resources
  • Keeping up to date with recent English developments
  • Analysis of SATs results to identify areas for development
  • Checking that assessment for English is carried out in line with the school’s assessment policy


Parental Involvement

Our parents can play a vital role in the development of English Skills. We aim to foster a strong home-school partnership regarding reading, using home-school communication folders and record books as a tool for communication between home and school. Parents also support school by hearing their child read on a regular daily basis, discussing the reading books, encouraging their child to complete homework smartly and on time and helping their child to learn their weekly spelling lists. Many parents support Book Week by offering to help with a stint on running the Book Fair. Parents provide support for handwriting, discussion of newsworthy topics and general knowledge awareness as well as helping inspire their child with various genres of writing that may be set for homework.

Our parent governors are a huge support to the development of English through school. The current parent governor for English is Mrs. Tod.



This policy should be read in conjunction with the following school policies:

  • Teaching and Learning Policy
  • Assessment Policy
  • Marking and Feedback Policy
  • SEND policy
  • Computing Policy
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Data Protection Policy


This policy will be reviewed by staff and presented to governors for approval every three years. 


Alison Tomlinson

English Coordinator

March 2018