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Aims and objectives

The study of English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, using language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.

Teaching and Learning of English

At Starbeck we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in English lessons. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills, and understanding in English. Teachers are mindful of choosing genres that complement other areas of the curriculum being taught within the same half term so that English work can be cross curricular. Daily lessons have a high proportion of whole-class and group teaching. During these lessons children experience a whole-class shared reading or writing activity, a guided group or independent activity and a whole-class session to review progress and learning. They have the opportunity to experience a wide range of texts and use a range of resources to support their work. Children use ICT in English lessons where it enhances their learning, for example film clips (visual literacy), IWB texts and the use of word processing to organise and re-draft their work. There are children of differing ability in all classes at Starbeck. We recognise this fact and provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies. In some lessons we do it through differentiated group work, while in other lessons we ask children to work from the same starting point before moving on to develop their own ideas. We use classroom assistants to support children and to enable work to be matched to the needs of individuals.

Reading at Starbeck

Children will be taught both decoding and comprehension skills as set out in our long and medium-term plans.  They will develop an appreciation of the written word and a love of literature. Each child will be given an individual reading book which they will take home daily.  A reading record book will be provided which will form a home-school record of reading completed. Children in Year 6 will have a School Planner which will include space to record their individual and supported reading at home. Pupils will have regular opportunities to engage in independent and shared reading.  Class teachers will provide pupils with daily read aloud sessions where pupils will be encouraged to respond to the text in a variety of different ways. Each year group will have an ongoing focus text linked to the teaching of writing which will allow all pupils to have a shared experience of a text and make links between reading and writing.

Guided Reading

  • The goal of guided reading is to enable learners to become independent, able readers, who understand and appreciate texts on their own without the teacher’s help. Guided reading takes place in a mixture of whole class lessons and smaller group sessions with a teacher or teaching assistant, and focuses on developing pupils’ ability to become independent readers, thinkers and learners.  In group sessions, the pupils are grouped by ability and read individual copies of the same text, which challenges the reading level of the group.  Texts are selected from the school’s guided reading resources.  In whole class lessons, the children all use the same or similar text and are supported or challenged appropriately to access the text at their own level and practice their comprehension skills. Class teachers will change group books on a regular basis and include a mix of fiction and non-fictions texts, and where possible, texts should match the range being taught to the whole class or which relates to another area of current learning or interest.  Class teachers will need a good knowledge of the text they choose in order to plan effective questioning which will link to the learning objective and allow pupils an opportunity to extend and consolidate their reading skills.  Class teachers plan a guided reading schedule to ensure they have built in opportunities to listen to all pupils read.  Gender equality will be promoted by making sure texts avoid stereotyping and by ensuring boys and girls have access to all the resources available.

Speaking and Listening at Starbeck

Teachers will ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language.  The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their vocabulary, grammar and understanding for reading and writing.  Pupils will develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and poems, and to prepare their ideas prior to writing.  They will be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves and to others and teachers will ensure they build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy misconceptions.  Pupils will also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) at Starbeck

At Starbeck we follow the National Curriculum guidance on SPaG and incorporate the teaching and learning of these areas into our writing lessons and cross curricular learning.   It is taught as part of writing sessions (in a context for writing e.g. a story or an information text) or is taught discretely when children are learning a new skill or gaining new knowledge. Children are also involved in daily opportunities to revise, learn and practise their spelling knowledge in context through our use of the ‘Word Study’ approach to spelling. This way of teaching focuses on making links between what the children have learned about how to read words, with what they need to think about in order to spell them. The children also spend time generating and testing their own theories about how and why words are spelled; and work in an interactive environment which promotes vocabulary development and enrichment. This, in turn, has a positive effect on their reading comprehension and their writing skills. Lessons are based around talk and discussion activities which promote children’s observation and use of words. As well as being very actively involved in their learning, pupils are given tools and techniques to learn how to learn about spelling, rather than remembering lists. As they develop through school, pupils’ understanding of the way words work progresses from a sounds or phonics based approach, through an appreciation of patterns in language, to a deeper understanding of the ways in which the meanings of words and their component parts add structure to the words themselves.  In addition, there are always going to be some words that just need to be learned; but Word Study teaches children that over 80% of our words follow predictable patterns. Where words do need to be learned by rote (such as the National Curriculum year group word lists), a familiarity with word study techniques helps children to focus on the structure of irregular words. In addition, the ability to talk about and discuss the ways in which expected patterns helps children to learn and remember the more irregular words.


The children follow the Letters and Sounds scheme which aims to accelerate the progress of early reading. Every day from Nursery to Y2 the children receive a 20-minute rapid-paced phonics lesson which is delivered by a teacher or trained teaching assistant. These lessons follow the revise, teach, practice and apply structure using a range of multi-sensory resources. Children are assessed against their sound/symbol correspondence as well as their ability to segment and blend phonemes. In Year One the children undertake the National Phonics Screening Check. This is an important diagnostic check that enables teachers to identify which children can use and apply their phonic skills. The results are shared with parents in the end of year reports and they are used diagnostically to highlight phonic misconceptions and thus accelerate the progress of reading.

In Years 2 and 3 there is a transition from the use of the phonics approach Letters and Sounds to the word study approach of investigation spelling patterns. Children are encouraged to edit their writing for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors through feedback and marking from the teaching staff and enjoy challenging one another to be the best that they can be.

Writing at Starbeck

In EYFS, our youngest children use writing in both structured play situations and in more formal adult directed lessons to record their ideas. Throughout KS1 and KS2 children learn the craft of writing by engaging in shared and guided writing sessions.  All staff have been trained in the writing approaches advocated by Jane Considine’s ‘Write Stuff’.

Teachers initiate pupil interest and engagement through a variety of different media, e.g. quality texts, drama, artefacts, music, film, pictures, newspaper articles, experiences. There is then the opportunity for children to practise a given skill.  Sentences are modelled by the teacher and written by the pupil over a series of lessons to complete the genre outcome.  ‘Experience sessions’ are planned in along the way to enhance the children’s understanding of the genre, e.g., film, drama, reading comprehensions.  This means that during a unit of work children are provided with different opportunities to develop their writing skills both collaboratively and independently and build up to producing a sustained independent piece of writing.  Daily our children are taught the rules of spelling and grammar and are expected to apply these concepts into their writing.


Handwriting and Presentation at Starbeck


It is important that children are taught how to write legibly, so that they and others can read it.  They need to write fluently, so that their handwriting does not hold back the other aspects of writing.  We want children to present their work neatly, as an important life skill, and to take pride in their work.  We expect all adults in school to provide a good role model of presentation and handwriting and to have high expectations of all pupils. We use ‘Letter-Join’ as the basis of our handwriting policy that covers all the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum. At the end of Key Stage 2 all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes. We aim to make handwriting an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking.  Children are encouraged to write cursively from an early age and to practice the correct formations including the ‘lead-ins’. By Year Two we expect most children to be writing with a legible cursive style where the letters are of a regular size. Throughout KS2 children should be using a blue handwriting pen. Handwriting is a cross-curriculum task and will be taken into consideration during all lessons. Formal teaching of handwriting is carried out regularly and systematically to ensure Key Stage targets are met.


We aim for two to three weekly sessions totalling 30 to 45 minutes that will include the following:

•Movements to enhance gross motor skills such as air-writing, pattern making, dancing.

•Exercises to develop fine motor skills such as making marks on paper, whiteboards, blackboards, sand trays, iPads and tablets.

•Letter learning to familiarise letter shapes, formation and vocabulary.


Teaching will continue with two or three weekly sessions totalling 30 to 45 minutes covering:

•Gross and fine motor skills exercises.

•Cursive handwriting reinforcement, learning and practice.

•Numerals, capitals and printed letters: where and when to use, learning and practice.


More advanced handwriting techniques will be taught during one or two weekly sessions totalling 30 to 45 minutes teaching:

•Cursive handwriting re-enforcement. Dictation exercises to teach the need for quick notes and speedy handwriting.

•Form-filling/labelling using printed and capital letters.



  • Adults will hand-write the child’s full first name and surname on the front of each book, using the school script.
  • The front of books must not be defaced/doodled on. 
  • All work will be dated; written work using the long written date and maths work using the short numerical date.
  • The title will be written under the date.
  • Both date and title will be underlined using a ruler.
  • Children will be taught how to use a ruler correctly.
  • Any mistakes will be crossed out using a neat, horizontal line.
  • Children will not use erasers, except where provided by the teacher when drawing diagrams where crossing out would be misleading.
  • Adults will use the pens as specified in the marking and feedback policy.  Children will use sharp HB pencils and/or, when appropriate, a blue handwriting pen.
  • All work in mathematics books will be in pencil.
  • Children will edit written work neatly and legibly.
  • All adults in school are encouraged to use neat, joined-up cursive writing for all handwriting tasks including report writing (when not word-processed), marking and comments. Consistency throughout the school is crucial. Pupils should experience coherence and continuity in the learning and teaching of handwriting across all school years and be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their work. Our aim is to help pupils enjoy learning and developing their handwriting with a sense of achievement and pride.