Curriculum - English

Reading Policy Curriculum Intervention Information for Parents



At Birchwood Junior School, we are constantly striving to improve the inclusive provision for our children to ensure that each individual can achieve their potential and unlock their passion and enjoyment for reading. Reading is a complex skill with many components. Successful approaches to the teaching of reading should encourage children to use a variety of strategies in their pursuit of new word reading and meaning. It is important to lay firm foundations in this crucial area of the curriculum and establish a consistent whole school approach to the teaching of reading.

Our philosophy and curriculum provision is underpinned by and rooted in evidence-based theory using Rose’s Simple View of Reading to help identify struggling readers early and ensure those children have the necessary support.


Though the use of various assessment methods; The Single Word Reading Test, Rising Stars PiRA assessments and teacher AFL, children needing additional support are quickly identified and supported through various interventions.


Additionally, the Scarborough Reading Rope plays a significant role in the content of the provision from years 3 to 6. Lessons are structured to provide explicit teaching of specific reading skills following the whole school map yet embedded throughout teaching is the implicit teaching of the wider skills needed to become a skilled reader.

For more information about our pedagogy, please visit the link below to view the recommendations for improving literacy:

Improving Literacy In Key Stage 2, Guidance Report




As a junior school, the majority of our children begin their school life at Birchwood with a good understanding of phonetic sound reading and have passed the phonics screen. However, children who are identified as not having met the end of Key Stage 1 National Curriculum expectations for reading by the English Reading Lead are selected to take part in phonics lessons. Children are then grouped by their word reading and fluency level, and not by their progress in comprehension and writing, into broad speed sound groups. Assessments take place on a termly basis, using the Read Write Inc. (RWI) Assessment trackers, and groupings are fluid to promote rapid progression through the speed sound sets.

In RWI Phonics lessons, children learn to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly and compose their ideas step-by-step. Throughout the programme, children learn the English alphabetic code; the 150+ graphemes that represent the 44 speech sounds. They rapidly learn phonemes and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them in speed sound lessons, which are taught and consolidated every day. High frequency words that are not regular are taught as 'tricky words' (we call them red words) and are practised frequently. Children are expected to read nonsense words (we call these alien words) as a method of assessment, checking that children are able to independently blend the newly taught sound.

Lively phonics books are closely matched to children's increasing knowledge of phonics and red words so that, early on, they experience plenty of success in reading. Repeated readings of the texts support their increasingly fluent decoding. A thought provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion helps teachers ensure that children comprehend what they are reading. Teachers read aloud and discuss picture books with similar themes to those in the Storybooks, so children build up background knowledge ready for the next Storybook. Phonics lessons will continue for individual children, until they are able to access class reading material and spellings.

Children are also facilitated with the opportunity to write simple words every day, building on their success. They rehearse out loud what they want to write and learn, to compose sentence by sentence, until they are confident enough to write independently at the level of their spelling knowledge (that is, they use their phonetic knowledge of the alphabetic code and red words they have learnt).

The Local Authority Specialist Teaching Team will be commissioned to complete assessments of children identified as making less than expected progress within phonics.

Useful Information and Helpful Websites

Parent's Guide To Phonics RWI Speed Sound Set List Oxford Owl Read Write Inc. guide for parents Ruth Miskin Training (Facebook) RuthMiskinedu (Twitter)
Reading Policy Curriculum Intervention Information for Parents


A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

english2In school, the work we do in English impacts on every subject area, whether it be explaining a chosen method of working in Maths, debating an issue in an R.E. lesson, writing a scientific report or creating leaflet for healthy bodies and minds. Beyond the confines of the classroom, children interact socially on the playground, taking part in creative and inventive role-play situations as well as taking turns in games, they engage in dialogue with other adults when eating packed lunches or having hot school meals, and they demonstrate listening skills during Assembly time. The spoken and written word is all around them.

At Birchwood Junior School we aim to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

English is taught every day at Birchwood Junior School.

The skills of WRITING are broken down into four sub-strands:

english3TRANSCRIPTION is initiated through a carefully taught phonics programmes in Reception and Key Stage 1 at our federated infant schools (Lancaster Infant School and Woodlands Infant and Nursery School). This continues to be developed as children move into Key Stage 2 at Birchwood Juniors (or whenever an individual child is ready to make the transition) through a carefully-planned programme of Support for Spelling, which enables children to understand rules, groups, patterns and exceptions, and how to apply these to their writing both in English and across the wider curriculum. Children become proficient at using a dictionary to check for accuracy of spelling as they move further up the school, and a range of dictionaries are available to suit individual needs. Thesauri are used by children to further help and support vocabulary expansion.

english4The teaching of HANDWRITING is structured to ensure that pupils can write a fully cursive script at the upper end of the school. Teachers follow our handwriting policy to ensure consistency for children, and letters are grouped together for teaching purposes to enable greater progression of skills, including spelling patterns. A strong emphasis is placed on the quality of presentation in all aspects of our curriculum.

english6VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR and PUNCTUATION are the building blocks of writing. Throughout their time at Birchwood Juniors the children are encouraged to explore and expand their vocabulary by interacting with the environment and those around them. Grammar sessions are linked to the main body of the English lesson whereby children can practise and then apply the skills during English teaching time, and through other subjects whenever and wherever possible, to ensure maximum exposure.

english7COMPOSITION: Our underlying belief here is that children should enjoy writing, and develop a love of writing with a sense of pride and achievement in their work. Any good composition, whether it be a non-chronological report about the March of the Penguins, the opening of a science fiction story, a historical narrative about an escape from Pompeii, a newspaper report about an Neil Armstrong, or witness statements following crimes including those in Macbeth. Planning always begins with sharing ideas and the opportunity to practice words, phrases and sentences aloud. As children move up the school, planning becomes more formalised but is still underpinned by a “sea of talk.” Children are taught and encouraged to edit and revise ‘purple polish’ their work to be the best possible writers they can be.

english8 english9 english11

english12Year 5’s Victorians topic, having produced some lovely learning using the editing and re-drafting process.

Class 3’s work. Having a great time taking Traction Man on an adventure and then writing about it.

Children appreciate that writing is for a huge range of purposes and that audience and reader vary depending on the composition, whether that’s writing to entertain, inform persuade or discuss; we draw on our own experiences as readers to aid and support us in our composition work. As with all areas of English, writing reaches far beyond the confines of a single subject area.


Birchwood Junior School is a school which loves books. All children read every day, whether as part of our reading skills development, reading aloud to an adult as part of the reading scheme, or though shared reading across classes or as part of a text which is a stimulus for our own writing and wider reading in other subject areas.

Spelling Activity Strategies Word List - Years 3&4 Word List - Years 5&6