Teachers use the National Curriculum for English as a basis for their English planning. We have also adopted the 'Talk for Writing' approach for the teaching of writing.


Reading and Phonics Curriculum


At Combe Down Primary School, we believe that developing reading skills is one of the core purposes of primary education. For pupils to succeed in education, reading has got to be a priority. Children need to be confident, fluent readers who find enjoyment through books and can use their skills to access all areas of the curriculum. A recent review of research (Castles, Rastle and Nation, 2018) synthesised over 300 studies to highlight best practice: a phonics-based approach to help young children crack the alphabetic code; immersion in text to develop word-recognition skills and the influence of knowledge, processing and cognition on a wider comprehension.

The use of phonics is one of the many skills needed to be able to be a reader and writer. Understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words underpins successful word reading. Children’s knowledge of the English alphabetic code – how letters or groups of letters represent the sounds of the language – supports their reading and spelling.

At Combe Down Primary School we aim to teach high quality phonics to ensure the children have the best start possible in reading and writing. The learning of phonics is the beginning of children’s body of knowledge, skills and understanding that are an essential part of learning to read. In order to read and understand texts children must learn to recognise/decode the words on the page. Good quality phonics teaching allows the child to be secure in the skills of word recognition and decoding which allows children to read fluently. This will result in children being able to read for pleasure and will allow them to move onto developing higher order reading for meaning skills. These phonic skills need to be taught systematically and involve a variety e.g multi-sensory resources for all learners.

In taking these aspects into consideration, our aim is for all pupils- irrespective of their needs, abilities or background – to learn to read fluently and with understanding. We aim to meet, and where possible exceed, the expectations laid out in the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum, with pupils progressing appropriately. Once children can decode text effectively, we aim to build word recognition and develop comprehension skills in order to produce secure and confident readers who enjoy and understand the benefits of reading. 

Our children are entitled to a Phonics curriculum which enables them to:

  • gain a progressively deeper understanding of the phonetic structure of the English language.
  • apply their phonic knowledge and skills to decode unfamiliar words fluently and accurately.
  • read rapidly to apply what they have learned across the whole curriculum.
  •  create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.
  • develop a life-long love of reading.


The reading curriculum is broadly planned from the National Curriculum Programmes of study in conjunction with the end of year expectations stated on Insight. In the Foundation Stage, the curriculum is planned using the requirements set out in the revised Early Years Foundation Stage document. Our curriculum planning for reading and phonics, focuses on the Early Learning Goals and on developing children’s skills and experiences through texts, as set out in the Development Matters document. 

The direct teaching of reading starts with oracy and phonics. Phonics is a body of knowledge that is necessary for children to learn to read and spell. Because of the complex alphabetic code of English, children are taught explicitly the correspondences between letters and sounds (graphemes and phonemes), as well as the skill of blending the individual sounds together to read.

In line with the School’s policy and commitment to excellence in Phonics, each class in Foundation Stage and KS1 will teach phonics as a discrete lesson every day and will include phonics as part of teaching and learning throughout other curriculum lessons on a daily basis. The structure of each lesson at Combe Down Primary and the journey of phonics across the week enables all aspects of the blending and segmenting of phonemes/graphemes; lessons are uniquely planned and tailored to meet the needs of all our learners.

In Foundation Stage and Year 1 we follow a systematic synthetic phonics programme of Jolly Phonics and Letters and Sounds. Jolly Phonics is a fun and child- centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds. These lessons proceed at pace and incorporate a wide range of practical and interactive learning opportunities to engage the children. These learning opportunities are carefully chosen to ensure that children develop their skills in aural discrimination and phonemic and rhyme awareness, blending and segmenting as well as grapheme-phoneme correspondence. Our Letters and Sounds Programme will also be continued into Key Stage 2, where necessary to support those children who do not yet have the phonic knowledge and skills they need.

The Read Write Inc spelling programme is used from Year 2 onwards, to further support children in continuing to meet the more demanding spelling requirements of the National Curriculum.

The children progress through the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, which is also supplemented with additional texts, offering children a broad and stimulating reading diet. Typically, we would expect children to use the reading scheme throughout Key Stage One and into lower Key Stage Two. Once the end of the reading scheme has been reached, children are encouraged to choose their own reading material from either school or home and they become a ‘free reader’.  All children also have regular visits to our school library, to provide them with the opportunity to choose interesting texts around their interests. Teachers will monitor the choice of books for free readers to ensure that children read a range of texts at a suitably challenging level.  Children choose books from school which they take home to practice reading skills. In Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, children will read aloud to an adult at school every week.

Parents and teachers keep a record of progress and make comments in a yellow reading record book (R-Y4). From Y3, we encourage children to record their own personal reactions to the material they have read. We encourage parents to hear their child read regularly at home.

Guided reading takes place daily in KS1. This involves the teacher sharing a text with a small group of children. All children have an opportunity to read aloud, discuss the text and to respond to questions to develop their reading skills. Alongside a teacher led guided group, other children will participate in independent reading related activities. The types of activities include:  comprehension activities, phonics or spelling activities, handwriting (linked to spelling), dictionary and thesaurus activities, book review activities.

By KS2, we expect all pupils to be ready for whole-class guided reading sessions that are undertaken daily. All children will have at least 40 minutes of whole-class guided reading every day. The focus here is on vocabulary development, the development of specific reading skills and immersion in a wide range of texts. These lessons use class novels as a stimulus for deeper thinking and link a range of fiction and non-fiction texts to these in order to further develop contextual knowledge and understanding. We also aim to promote reading for pleasure and to expose children to a wide range of high-quality texts and this plays a major role within reading development. We are aware that promoting reading in this way can also provide our pupils with a creative outlet and an alternative to the digital distractions that can affect their personal well-being.


We measure impact through learning walks, book scrutiny, formative and summative data and pupil/parent/teacher voice. Subject leaders evaluate impact and assess pupils’ learning.


Writing Curriculum


The aim for English in the 2014 National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through reading for pleasure.

The National Curriculum aims for English are to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely, and often, for 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 for a range of contexts, purposes and audience
  • use discussion 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 presentation, demonstrating to others and participating in debate

At Combe Down Primary School, our English curriculum is driven by a range of quality texts which seek to challenge and lead the development of the personal and cultural capital of the children attending our school. Texts provide a stimulus and opportunity to be immersed in rich vocabulary – one that will support development and nurture a genuine love of reading. We believe all children are authors and that the links between reading and writing are heavily intertwined. Children are encouraged to question author’s choices and explore the context in which a text is written. We enrich English with visits from authors, trips and experiences that provide a real purpose for reading and writing.


English is taught through a sequential journey that encourages children to read like a writer and write like a reader. The children use high quality texts each term, and writing is genre specific dependent on the writing outcome. The children will cover one piece of fiction and non-fiction per term. 

Work is planned over a 3-week sequence and ensures there is a balance of skills and application. Well-planned learning objectives are mapped out over a complete sequence to ensure all grammar and punctuation objectives are incorporated into the lessons. Children are provided with experiences and stimuli in order to inspire them and immerse them in a text. They are encouraged to innovate the text and create their own texts, through lots of discussion, drama and shared/modelled writing.

Through our model texts, children will be taught specific grammar and sentence level features as well as how to explore how authors’ language choices and the techniques that contribute to the effectiveness of writing. This expectation is in all year groups and aims to develop a deeper understanding of language choice and composition.

Our writing curriculum is heavily supported by our reading curriculum. We promote a love of reading and children are exposed to a variety of authors from the past through to the present, promoting a range of genres with non-fiction and fiction texts.


All children will produce at least one non-fiction and one fiction unit of extended writing each term. Children should be exposed to a rich diet of genre-specific texts within each unit and have the opportunity to explore author’s language choices. There will be opportunities for shared writing and modelled writing. Children will take pride in their presentation using a cursive script for handwriting, valuing the editing and revising process as part of the writing journey.

We measure impact through learning walks, work scrutiny, formative assessment and pupil/parent/teacher voice. Subject leaders meet termly to evaluate impact and assess pupils’ learning.


Grammar is incorporated into daily English lessons. For more information on the focus for each year group see the appendix in the National Curriculum document below:

National Curriculum for English 2014

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