English at Holystone

At Holystone, we believe that language and literacy is fundamental to the overall development of our children and their access to the curriculum in all its aspects. We aim to deliver quality teaching of spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.


General Aims

English is a core subject in the national curriculum. Our aim is 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. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

ü read easily, fluently and with good understanding

ü develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information

ü acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language

ü appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage

ü write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences

ü use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas

ü are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate



The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:

ü word reading

ü comprehension (both listening and reading).


The understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words underpins our teaching of reading. Phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading from Nursery to Year 2, with catch-up schemes being offered to children in Key Stage 2. Skilled word reading also requires the speedy recognition of familiar printed words (High Frequency Words). We teach these individually in Foundation Stage and in Letters and Sounds sessions throughout Key Stage 1. Personal Readers in Year 1 and 2 are also used as a catch-up scheme.


All children should:

• be encouraged and supported to become fluent and confident readers.

• be supported and taught secure reading strategies for coping with reading a range of texts, including non-fiction media and ICT.

• be able to read with understanding, exploring ideas through inference and deduction.

 • be aware of the language of reading – decoding, comprehension, location, deduction, inference, skimming, scanning, predicting, visualising, empathising, questioning and reading backwards and forwards – to support the reading process.

• be able to read and follow written instructions.

• be encouraged by staff to read for pleasure.

• have access to a range of books and reading materials that are upto-date, relevant and balanced in content.

 • learn to be critical readers, questioning what they read in books and in the media.

• be encouraged to engage in discussions about the books they are reading and encouraged to talk about their likes and dislikes.

• be encouraged to make comparisons with other books they have read as they read new books.

Throughout the school, we follow the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme from Foundation Stage until appropriate. We have supplemented this with a range of texts from other schemes, e.g. Big Cat Collins, Bug Club and Project X.

From Reception onwards children read individually, with the teacher or teaching assistant, at least once per week. Reading books are sent home for reinforcement every week.  This continues throughout Year 1. In Year 2, this continues for the children who still need individual reading but for the majority it is replaced by guided reading.

From Year 1 onwards, guided reading is taught in a separate session, outside of the English lesson. In Guided Reading sessions, the children are grouped according to their reading ability and read appropriately levelled texts. The teacher uses this time to teach specific reading skills to the children, including a range of decoding methods and comprehension skills.

Comprehension skills develop 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. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction 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.



Reading at Home

Children, throughout the school, are expected to spend some time reading at home each week (minimum of three times a week for KS1).  In the case of the earlier readers, children need to read to an adult. This is seen as an important and necessary reading practice and experience. Progress at home is monitored through the children’s Reading Diary. Parents with younger children are encouraged to add their comments on their child’s progress. Reading stamps are awarded every time a child reads at home. At the end of every week, the stamps are added together and equate to a merit if the child has read three or more times for three weeks (these do not need to be consecutive). This is to provide extra motivation for the children to read. One class library book of the child’s choice and one reading scheme book is recommended to be taken home at the teacher’s discretion.



The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

ü composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

ü transcription (spelling and handwriting)

We believe that writing should be a creative process and all attempts at writing are valued. The transcriptional and compositional skills are taught alongside the creative aspects. In addition, we teach pupils how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. We use a range of texts, film and other visual stimulus to inspire our children to become inventive writers. In each year group, some lessons are taught using the Talk for Writing model although this is not a whole school approach.

Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Children are taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation appropriate to their year group. It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.


Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. See separate spelling policy for our approach to spelling,

Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. Handwriting is explicitly taught on a weekly basis. The correct formation of letters is modelled by the teacher. Children have a separate handwriting book dedicated to demonstrating and practising handwriting.





Spoken Language

We believe that spoken language is fundamental to children’s development and that confidence in this area is essential to be successful in all areas of the curriculum.

In line with the National Curriculum, we teach pupils to:

ü listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers

ü ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge

ü use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary

ü articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions

ü give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings

ü maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments

ü use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas

ü speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English

ü participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates

ü gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)

ü consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others

ü select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

These oral skills are directly taught, modelled and encouraged in whole class and small group settings. Opportunities across the whole curriculum are planned for and developed. Children play an active part in presentations, group discussions, debates and drama activities.


Correct letter formation must be taught from Reception onwards. Children from Reception should be encouraged to use the cursive style to correctly form each letter, although this decision is left to the discretion of the class teacher with regards to the needs of individuals. As soon as children are secure in the movements of each letter, joined up writing should be introduced. Children from Year 1 onwards have an exercise book specifically for handwriting.

Handwriting awards have been set up to encourage and reward children with their handwriting. From FS children can achieve certificates in assembly for their handwriting achievements. These are linked to different jungle animals and children receive matching stickers for their efforts. There are 5 certificates in total for the children to achieve and the handwriting targets are taken from both the FS and KS1 curriculum. When all certificates have been collected the children will achieve a ‘Mr Baines Golden Pencil’.

In KS2 children then have the aim to achieve their pen licence. This is achieved when children are consistently joining neatly. They are rewarded with a pen and an award card.



At Holystone, we use Target Tracker to assess children’s reading and writing every term. Reading and writing targets are set and reviewed throughout the year and shared with children and parents so that they are clear how they are progressing. Writing targets are kept in the children’s English books so that they are readily available for both staff and children to monitor their progress.

An on-entry assessment is carried out as children arrive into Nursery using the Early Years outcomes document.  We also use North Tyneside’s Speaking and Listening screener to identify children who need intervention from outside agencies.  In Reception children are assessed at theb beginning of the year using the Baseline assessment (from 2019) and then again, against the ELGs at the end of the academic year.

In Year 1, a Salford reading assessment is carried out. A formal phonics screening test is carried out in June for Year 1 pupils, and repeated in Year 2 for the children who do not achieve the expected score in Year 1.

In Year 2 and Year 6 formal reading, writing, grammar and spelling SATs are undertaken by all pupils as set by the government. Writing is based on teacher assessment using the interim framework whereas tests are used to inform other levels. Moderation takes place with local Primary schools on a termly basis

Both reading and writing assessments are used to inform planning and to target teaching to the needs of the children as well as to track progress.

Daily marking of children’s work is completed by the teacher or verbal feedback is given. Coloured stampers are used in line with the school’s policy on marking.

All pupils have electronic records stored on Target Tracker.

Data is passed on to the next class teacher – together with relevant transfer documentation as and when appropriate.

Written reports on individual pupils are compiled for parents / carers on an annual basis – Summer Term, although interim target reports are given to parents on a termly basis.

Consultation sessions are timetabled twice a year for parents / carers to discuss their child’s progress.



Every school is required by law to set targets in each year for those pupils who are in Year 6. These include:

Individual targets for each pupil based on attainment at the end of Key Stage 1

Percentage targets for the cohort for EXS and GDS

 Percentage target for the cohort for combined Mathematics, Reading and Writing at EXS and GDS

Percentage targets for the cohort for progress in English from Key Stage 1 to 2.

Targets are also set in English in other year groups except Foundation Stage who set targets linked to the Early Year’s curriculum



All teachers hold the resources for their year group.  Guided reading books are kept in classrooms in Key stage two and in the Key Stage 1 corridor for the lower levelled books.  There is a shared folder on the network server with planning and resources for guided reading. There is also a school English folder on the network server which holds other shared resources for the school.  Individual reading books are kept close to the relevant year group. 


All teachers have high expectations for every pupil.

Special Educational Needs

Lessons are planned to ensure that there are no barriers to every pupil achieving. In many cases, such planning will mean that these pupils will be able to study the full national curriculum. Some pupils with special educational needs also have disabilities and these children are also provided for at Holystone Primary.

Special educational needs are assessed by the class teacher with the SENCOs’ support where necessary.  Various intervention strategies are in place within all year groups eg ELS and Rapid Writers in KS1, writing boosters and reciprocal reading in KS2.  A ‘Catch-up’ reading programme is also carried out with children who have fallen behind age related expectations with their reading.  Peer reading groups also take place across school.  All of the intervention programmes carried out are stored in a folder on the network server in ‘Mapping Progress and Interventions’ with an up to date list of children attending.

Thrive programmes run throughout the school to develop children’s emotional wellbeing.

Equal Opportunities

Equal opportunities are addressed by staff, selecting resources which provide opportunities for pupils to learn about other cultures. 


Monitoring of the Whole-School English policy

The importance of monitoring the policy is recognised by all teachers in the school and ALL members of staff are expected to be teachers of English. SLT and the English Team are responsible for ensuring that Key Stages are working to meet the expectations of this policy and monitoring will be achieved through formal and informal meetings, learning walks, classroom visits, pupil voice interviews and book looks. Success of this policy will be measured through a range of formative and summative measures. Teachers will be responsible for the implementation of the Policy when planning and teaching lessons.  The English Team will oversee the Scheme of Work.