English at Shibden Head Primary Academy is taught discretely in English lessons, guided reading and phonics and spelling lessons. Skills in English are further developed within the wider curriculum. Many of the texts that we use link to curriculum themes that we are studying throughout the year.


Speaking and Listening

Throughout the school opportunities to develop pupil’s spoken language in a range of contexts underpins the development of reading and writing. Pupils are encouraged to speak clearly, confidently and with expression in order to communicate their ideas and feelings. They are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.  Pupils develop their ability to explain their understanding of books and other reading materials, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They are encouraged to discuss their ideas in order to make sense of their learning.

We regularly hold assemblies, nativities and productions in which children are encouraged to take part in varied roles. Poetry recitals are included regularly in our practice and often performed to others.


The importance of early reading, our approach to teaching phonics

At Shibden Head, all children in reception and Key Stage 1 follow the DFE Letters and Sound programmes, along with additional resources such as phonics play, Espresso and Read Write Inc. letter formation.

Phonics is the method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and their symbols (graphemes). Children are introduced to ‘single sounds’ such as /p/, /o/ and practise recognising them, writing them and ‘blending’ them. ‘Blending‘ is the ability to combine sounds together in order to create a word. Teaching staff ensure all phonemes are pronounced purely, without an additional ‘uh’ on the end of each sound – known as ‘schwa‘ – which can potentially confuse children when combining the sounds together into words, for example:

/p/ /o/ /t/ = pot        (correct)
/puh/ /o/ /tuh/ = puhotuh      (incorrect)

Children are then exposed to more complex phonemes such as ‘ay’ in ‘stay’ and ‘ee’ in ‘see’.  Pupils are taught that these sounds are called ‘digraphs‘ because ‘two letters represent one sound’, or ‘trigraphs‘ when ‘three letters make one sound’ such as /air/ in ‘fair’. In order to help children decode each word, dots (for single sounds) and dashes (for digraphs and trigraphs) are marked under words.

The ‘Phonics Screening Check’ is taken individually by all children in Year 1 and is designed to give feedback to teachers and parents on how each child is progressing in Phonics. Pupils are asked to read 20 real words and 20 pseudo words, known to the children as ‘alien words’, in order to ensure children are decoding the words instead of memorising or guessing. ‘Alien words’ are introduced to children in Reception.

Children who do not pass the phonics test in Year 1 will continue with appropriate phonics provision in year 2 (and year 3 if necessary).



Comprehension skills are developed in guided reading sessions through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction within English lessons. Within guided reading and English, children read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.

How our reading books are organised

Our book banding system is arranged in colours, see below:

Book Banding System


Where needed, children will be given appropriate phonics books to help develop segmenting and blending skills. In the early stages of reading, the books are linked to the child’s phonic knowledge.

Every child is taken to the school library once a week to choose a book to take home and share, this begins in reception through to Year 6.


In Years 2 – 6, we follow the no-nonsense spelling framework. Each child is given a list of spellings and then within lessons we teach strategies on how to learn them. We encourage children to edit their own work and make improvements using green pen.



Children at Shibden Head Primary Academy learn to write for different purposes. These can include: different types of stories, instructions, play scripts, 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.