At Shibden Head Primary Academy we follow the National Curriculum.

Progression in English

What is phonics?

You may have heard of Phonics. Phonics is breaking down the letters that make up words into the sounds that they make therefore helping many children learn to read and spell.  Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading, hopefully for life.

How we teach phonics at Shibden Head Primary Academy.

At Shibden Head Primary Academy, pre-reading skills are taught using synthetic phonics and the school follows the government published programme ‘Letters and Sounds’.  This provides us with a multi-sensory approach that accommodates all learning styles. The children are taught within the phase that is appropriate to their level of development. They are assessed on a regular basis and groups are sorted accordingly.  The phonemes (sounds) are systematically taught before the children are shown how to blend them for reading and segmenting them for writing. Alongside this, the children are taught the ’high frequency words’ and ‘tricky words’ (those words which do not entirely follow the phonic rules). At the end of Year One children complete a Phonics Screening Check required by the Government to assess where they are. Staff receive regular training in the teaching of phonics which enables them to deliver interesting, interactive sessions that engage and motivate the children.

Why teach phonics? 

Learning to read is like cracking a code, so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code.  As reading is the key to learning, it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically, learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits!


Reading is very important at Shibden Head Primary Academy as it opens the door to learning across the curriculum. Children develop their reading skills in a variety of ways including Guided Reading in groups, individually with members of staff, through comprehension work, etc. Children enjoy listening to stories read by others and they are encouraged to develop a love of books.

A range of reading schemes are used – these are graded into colour bands which are matched to different abilites.  In the early stages of reading, children learn to decode words, applying their knowledge of letters and sounds from phonics lessons.

As children develop fluency in reading the emphasis of reading lessons shifts to developing understanding, focusing on different assessment areas.   The following leaflets give more details about developing reading skills.


Children at Shibden Head Primary Academy learn to write for different purposes. These can include different types of stories, instructions, playscripts, invitations, persuasive writing, and many others. We aim to make writing an enjoyable experience. Children learn the key elements of different genres which are then applied across the curriculum – for example, children’s writing can be seen in their English, science and Learning Challenge theme books.

English lessons include learning spelling, punctuation and grammar which children are expected to apply in their writing.