English - Writing/Reading/Phonics

English at St James

At St James, we understand the importance of English in all aspects of education - and in society - to ensure our children are ‘Ready for the Future.’ The skills of language are essential when participating in society. Children who learn to speak, read and write fluently are at an advantage when continuing their education and further beyond, into the workplace.

Our vision is for our children to leave St James’ as clear communicators; attentive listeners, confident speakers, fluent readers, and grammatically accurate writers.


Our English curriculum offers a wide variety of opportunities to explore and practice spoken language. This teaches all pupils to speak fluently, a skill that is then transferred into written work. During the 3 week unit, children know the 'why' for writing, through knowing the audience, context and purpose. They are 'hooked' into the text type they will be writing, exposed to 2 high quality examples - where they identify what makes them a good example to look at and the features of that text type. In week 2, the children are taught the skills needed to write a successful piece of writing and given time to be guided through the writing process and writing independent pieces. In the final week, the children use all of the skills and knowledge taught to plan, write, edit and presnt their own independent pieces.  Opportunities for writing across the curriculum allow our children to write for a range of audiences and purposes throughout the school year.

Purposes for writing remain vital, including who we are writing for. Our aim is to make the learning environment within the classroom one which captures the pupils need for modelled exemplars, appropriate vocabulary and the grammatical tools that will aid final outcomes. The supporting learning environment can then aid the children's search for those writing improvements. Orally rehearsing and proofreading out loud is imperative. Planning, drafting, proofreading, editing and final publishing remain a vital sequence.

At the heart of this curriculum are high quality books, texts and video clips. These form the foundations of our writing lessons. Alongside this, key grammar and basic skills are taught and recapped daily to ensure children can write cohesive and accurate pieces of work.

Spelling: We use RWI spelling and follow this progressive, structured scheme to teach spellings from Year 2 -6. In Year 1, spelling is based upon the Read Write Inc phonics programme.


At St James, we strive to create a reading culture that teaches our children about the joys of books. We aim to create a love of reading in all our children so that they not only learn how to read but use reading to further their learning in other subjects. Becoming ‘Ready for the Future.’ We know that reading is a tool to help develop our children - socially, emotionally and culturally. The teachers and children choose high quality books that will engage, inspire and provide a wealth of vocabulary.

We provide our children with daily opportunities to read and to be read to. The books used during these sessions are taken from Books for Topic and core book lists, ensuring that they are age-appropriate. Each classroom has its own book area with a range of genres for children to access. We also have an inviting school library, providing weekly class visits to borrow reading for pleasure books - these can be fiction or non-fiction topics.

We understand the importance of teaching children to read through phonics. To do this we use the Ruth Miskin sythetic phonics Read Write Inc programme - see below for more information about phonics. 

From Year 2 - 6, children have daily guided reading sessions. These focus on developing fluency, automaticity and prosody, learning the meaning of new vocabulary and the teaching of key comprehension skills through VIPERS. Age – appropriate books and texts are used for these sessions. Home reading books are age appropriate and are carefully chosen by the children and staff from our reading corners.

It is our intention to teach children how to be lifelong book lovers, who can read fluently, accurately and with confidence.

‘The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you will go.’ Dr Seuss.


We use the Read Write Inc programme to teach phonics. All staff have had training on the programme and are skilled in using the programme with children. Phonics teaching starts in Reception ancontinues into Year 2. Some children in other year groups may also need further phonics support. This is completed in either small groups or aon a 1:1 basis, enabling a more personalised phonics programme.

Children are assessed and grouped according to their ability. They work with an adult on the Read Write Inc. programme. Children are regularly assessed and regrouped according to their need. Book Bag Books are sent home on a weekly basis and these match the child’s phonic group. The children have repeatedly read these in school, to an adult, meaning that they can experience success as a reader from a young age. As part of the children’s Read Write Inc. lessons the children participate in Word Time. This is where they apply the sounds they have learnt to segment and blend to read words.

In Read Write Inc. we use our frog friend, Fred to help us read. Fred only talks in sounds and uses his ‘Fred Talk’ to segment the sounds in words. The children are encouraged to talk like Fred, use their ‘Fred Talk’ and segment each sound in the word and then blend to read.

In the word time lists below the children use their ‘Fred Talk’ to help them read the words but eventually we move on to using ‘Fred in your head’ which is where we use our ‘Fred Talk’ silently in our heads rather than sounding it aloud. We continue to revisit the Word Time lists to encourage speed and fluency, aiming for the children to read confidently by sight.

You can find a copy of all the Word Time lists at the bottom of this page.

Red Words

In the Read Write Inc. scheme ‘red words’ are used to help the children recognise tricky words that cannot be segmented in the normal way. We encourage children to look for the parts of each word that they can sound out normally and then identify the parts that are tricky. Children need to be able to read these words by sight. These words are introduced within the Read Write Inc. storybooks used in school.

Useful phonics websites

Here are a few websites that you might like to explore with your child:

Alphablocks - lots of videos and games to help with recognising letters and reading. We watch Alphablocks in school so your child might recognise some of these already!

Phoneme pop! - the sounds/letters drift by on bubbles and your child has to pop the matching sound!

Letters and sounds initial sound game - this game lets your child reveal a sound/letter and then try to find the picture that starts with the same sound.

BBC bitesize - this game allows your child to listen to the sounds in a word and to pick the correct letter. Then they can see what word they have made with all of the sounds together.

Phonics play - there are several free games to play that will help your child with their blending and segmenting.

Phonics Screening Test

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.

There are two sections in this 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.


Handwriting is part of the children’s daily Read Write Inc. session. We make the physical process of writing -handwriting – enjoyable from the start, so children see themselves as ‘writers’. We use mnemonics – memory pictures – to help children visualise the letter or join before they write down.

We have a three stage handwriting process that we use in our school.

Stage 1- Reception

When the children enter school our focus is on ensuring the children are holding pencils with the correct pencil grip. Using the Read Write Inc. handwriting phrases the children practise the correct letter formations. When the children are ready, they will learn where to place letters on a line.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to view all the handwriting phrases used from the Read Write Inc. scheme

Pre-cursive handwriting

See document at the bottom of this page for more information.

Stage 3 – Year 2 +

The children build on the pre-cursive taught in Year 1 and join all the letters together, for example

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Crigglestone St JamesCE Primary Academy

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