English & our approach to reading & phonics



English is taught daily in every class and is differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to teach the children in our school to have a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.


We want our children to be able to:


  • speak clearly and confidently in any situation.
  • listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion
  • read fluently for both pleasure and information
  • write clearly and with confidence for any given purpose
  • use English grammar accurately
  • be able to proof read their own work and make amendments and improvements.



Children’s journey to learn to read begins first and foremost with phonics.  Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. 


At Newland St John’s CE Academy, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ sequence of learning.  Daily phonics sessions take place throughout EYFS and KS1, with children working in small groups with a teacher / teaching assistant.  In KS1, we use the Phonics Play scheme of work and resources. 


In Foundation Stage, children are introduced to phonemes (sounds) linked to the letters of the alphabet, as well as one way of spelling each of the other 16  phonemes used in the English language, such as ‘igh’ and ‘ch’.


Children are taught to blend or sound out phonics to read a variety of words and segment or break down the sounds into simple words for spelling. In Foundation Stage, children also learn actions to help them remember the phonemes.


In Year 1, children learn more about the variety of ways in which each phoneme can be spelt.  From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their phonics knowledge, learning when to apply different spelling rules as well as how to spell plurals and different verb tenses.

At the end of Year 1, children will be tested on their phonics knowledge using a national statutory test featuring 20 real words and 20 nonsense words.


Home Reading

At NSJ, children are encouraged to read at home every day and we support this with a number of individual and class rewards.   Continued regular reading at home is highly beneficial for children’s progress across the whole curriculum.  Children choose home readers from their current book band so that the reading material they take home is at an appropriate level of challenge.  Children should be able to read their home readers without too much difficulty.  Teachers will choose more challenging books as guided reading texts to stretch children more when they are in the school environment


In the Foundation Stage, children begin by taking home discussion books, which are used to form the basis of a conversation between the child and an adult.  This gives children the opportunity to learn the skills of holding books, reading left to right and other vital skills, such as using picture clues.  Once children have a good understanding of how books work and have gained some phonics knowledge, they begin to read books containing simple words which can be blended or sounded out using phonics.  


Gradually, their home readers will have more and more words, not all of which are phonically decodable, and children will soon find themselves reading actual stories.  As children become more fluent readers, a range of books is provided to allow children to engage in more lengthy discussions about their content.


Guided Reading

Guided reading sessions take place daily throughout KS1 and KS2.  In KS1, children work in small groups with other children who are currently reading at the same level.  The guided reading groups work through texts which are at an instructional level of challenge.  


In KS2, each class has a ‘class read’, usually a novel, which is used as the basis for guided reading for most of one term. 


In both KS1 and KS2, children are taught a number of comprehension skills which we call Active Reading Strategies.  These are: 

  • Clarifying
  • Visualising 
  • Summarising / sequencing
  • Questioning
  • Looking questions  – fact retrieval
  • Clue  questions – inference
  • Thinking questions –  opinion and experience
  • Writer’s toolkit – language  and form




We believe it is important that children have daily opportunities to write.  This may be in English or could be in other foundation subjects.  It is also important that writing should be for a real and stated purpose.  Children are taught to adapt their style of writing for different text types or genres. 


We use a range of quality texts as a starting point for many of our writing units of work.  These help to inspire the children and to give them a range of ideas and vocabulary that they can draw on in their own writing.  


Through the use of modelled texts, shared and guided writing, as well as talk for writing, children are supported to write a range of compositions in every year group.   As they progress through the school, they are taught how to edit and improve their writing.  


Over the course of a year, children will produce a number of extended pieces of writing.  These are ‘published’ with illustrations and stored in their own portfolio, which goes with them as they move up the school and is theirs to keep when they leave.  


Spelling and Grammar

Children are taught grammar in the context of specific writing assignments.  


We use Spelling Shed as our main scheme for teaching spelling.  Every child has a personal log-in and can access the website and play games which help them to learn their weekly spellings at home.  

Further information for parents

Explore our curriculum

"Parents and carers value the strong sense of community you encourage within the school’s
very diverse cultural and social mix where everyone is treated with kindness and respect."

Ofsted 2018

"Pupils’ behaviour is often exemplary."

Ofsted 2018

"The school embodies its Christian vision through the way it welcomes and supports pupils of all backgrounds and abilities, thus helping them to flourish."

SIAMS 2019

"My child never wants to miss school."

Parent questionnaire - Autumn 2018

"My child has been made very welcome."

Parent questionnaire - Autumn 2018