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English Language

English, as a subject, gives our pupils access to the rest of the curriculum and is fundamental to their educational success at Woodside and beyond. A high-quality English curriculum will teach our pupils to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others.  English is the language of science, art, computing, humanities, media, Internet, as well as international communication.  English proficiency will allow pupils not only to succeed in other curriculum subjects and beyond, but also appreciate the power of language – its beauty as well as ambiguity. English is a complex subject that combines the disciplines of English language and literature. Knowledge of language, which includes linguistic knowledge such as vocabulary and grammar, as well as a wider knowledge of the world for comprehension, underpins progression in spoken language, reading and writing. 

At our school, we understand that progression in knowledge of language and its structures can be used by our pupils in reading, writing as well as spoken language. It is also appreciated that vocabulary size in primary school affects future educational attainment and employment success. Children with a language deficit at the age of five are more likely to have reading difficulties when they are adults. It is, therefore, our mission to become a language rich school, as we recognise that developing spoken language, including vocabulary, is essential for the academic progress of all our pupils -regardless their starting attainment points or socio -economic background.

Spoken Language

Good language at age five and beyond correlates with academic attainment, mental health in later years, social interaction and relationship building and employment outcomes. At Woodside Junior School we value spoken language as an important part of our pupils’ entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Spoken language provides them with the opportunities to develop and extend skills and a chance to express their individual interests, thoughts, and ideas.

Our aim is to enable the children improve their levels of spoken language so that all pupils can communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience.  These skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments, as well as talking in full sentences with a clear and confident voice. Our class teachers have an important role in modelling competence as a speaker and listener, contributing significantly to developing pupils’ spoken language.

Staff at Woodside Junior School strive to and model the use of higher-level vocabulary within their speech.  Expanding pupils’ vocabulary is a key focus in all years. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps our pupils to understand new words and supports them in including new vocabulary in their work. Our staff initiate activities in which pupils talk to each other in pairs or groups.  Furthermore, our pupils have opportunities to participate in school productions, debates, and presentations.

Our school and its staff aim to:

  • Ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills
  • Develop a capacity in our pupils to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write.
  • Our pupils are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.
  • Ensure that pupils will have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama, as well as to rehearse, refine, share, and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.
  • Ensure that classroom activities allow opportunities for teachers to model competence as a speaker and listener.
  • Introduce potentially unfamiliar vocabulary, returning to keywords and phrases to embed new knowledge.
  • Plan opportunities for pupils to take part in both ‘exploratory talk’, which enables the speaker to try out ideas, and ‘presentational talk’, which focuses on accurate communication

We recognise that, as a school, we need to continue to strive to develop spoken language in a structured and comprehensive way.  That is way we put spoken language at the heart of our School Development Plan for 2021-2022, and we are committed to building and embedding a culture of oracy within our school.  We are linking with Voice 21 organisation to develop the tools and resources to ensure that every pupil at our school is taught, in a structured way, to communicate effectively.

Intent -Reading 

At Woodside Junior School we understand that pupils of all ages need to be taught a broad curriculum that will allow them to comprehend increasingly complex texts. We value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers, who read confidently and enjoy reading for pleasure. We fully appreciate that fluency in reading is bedrock for further educational success of our pupils, therefore we ensure that we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading at our school.  Our aims are to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum and install in our pupils lifelong love of literature and reading.  We aim to achieve this by providing opportunities for all our pupils to progress and develop their reading skills across all curricular subjects as well as give them opportunities to read widely and experience a broad variety of genres.  The National Curriculum for reading aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage

Our teaching equips pupils to read confidently and allows them opportunities to discuss reading across all genres.  Children regularly participate in discussions about books they have read, including evaluating an author’s choice of language and the impact this will have on the reader.

We have carefully mapped out an in-depth skills progression document, under the VIPERS areas of:  vocabulary, inferring, predicting, explaining, retrieving and summarising. This allows our pupils to gain specific component knowledge needed for improved comprehension and text analysis - leading to reading increasingly challenging texts, as pupils progress through the school.

We understand that once children are fluent in word reading, they can focus on comprehending what they read.  Our assessment opportunities in Year 3 focus on identifying pupils who are not able to decode accurately, and therefore, are at risk of not learning to read. We, consequently, provide phonics teaching for all pupils in Year 3, who have not mastered the early stages of reading. This is followed by targeted interventions for any pupils who have not mastered Phase 5 of phonics. We also ensure then that pupils use decodable books to practise their reading and apply their phonic knowledge to words.

We understand that pupils need to be taught a broad curriculum that will allow them to comprehend increasingly complex texts. Reading comprehension requires knowledge of vocabulary, context, syntax, and narrative structure as well as the capacity to read fluently. Carefully chosen texts, which become increasingly complex in style, content, and vocabulary are studied in English lessons.  They, in turn, support progression of reading skills of our pupils in the subject, as well as in a wider curriculum.  This allows our pupils to appreciate literature over time as well as its linguistic features, grammar, and syntax. Our teachers select texts that contain some vocabulary that is likely to be unfamiliar but is not overwhelmingly difficult for our pupils to understand. This allows our pupils to gradually learn vocabulary through repeated encounters, as they read more complex texts.  

By considering pupils’ likely prior vocabulary knowledge, our staff selects vocabulary to teach, building systematically on pupils’ current knowledge. Our staff understands that it is vital for pupils’ comprehension that they understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects. It is particularly important to introduce pupils into the language which defines each subject in its own right, such as accurate mathematical and scientific language.  We strive, where appropriate, to pre-teach specific vocabulary and demonstrate morphology.

By linking our core English lessons text to other curricular subjects (humanities in particular), our pupils acquire contextual knowledge to adequately comprehend a text. Over time, pupils’ knowledge of words, phrases, ideas improves and, therefore, they become increasingly able to comprehend the texts they will encounter in their secondary school education. 

An effective reading curriculum contains a broad range of text genres, styles and narrative structures, and types of non-fiction texts. Our pupils study a wide range of texts across each year group, some of which are linked to our history and geography topics to encourage cross curricular links and a deeper understanding. Among other non-topic related texts, children will read the following:

  • Year 3 read texts linked to the Stone Age, Ancient Egypt, Mary Anning and the Jurassic Coast
  • Year 4 read texts linked to mountains, Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece
  • Year 5 read texts linked to Ancient Maya, rivers and the Vikings/Anglo Saxons
  • Year 6 read texts linked to Black History and World War 2

We understand that pupils benefit from listening to adults reading to them.  We, therefore, strive that our staff read carefully chosen texts that are accessible but more complex.  This happens during English lessons or during any other time within any school week. We believe that choosing the right text to engage our children is vital to inspiring their love of reading and their passion for the English language.  We endeavour that our English curriculum and wider school culture nurture reading for pleasure and allows our pupils to become a lifelong readers.

Implementation -Reading

Clear Reading and Writing Progressions Documents outline key objectives that are taught and show how knowledge and skills are taught, revisited, and embedded. Our teachers teach reading fluency (where applicable) by following the following strategies: simultaneously listening to and reading along with texts, repeated reading of certain texts, activities relating to discussing wording in a text before reading it as well as opportunities to perform plays. We understand that reading comprehension is a progressive skill that needs to be taught explicitly using increasingly complex texts.

Our school is fully committed to ensuring that our pupils’ cultural capital, combined with vocabulary and contextual knowledge helps them to make links and use background information to infer from the text studied.

VIPERS lessons - reading is taught daily as part of the English lesson. We adopt a whole class reading approach whereby all children follow a copy of the same text. Children will either read to themselves, in pairs, out loud to the class or listen to an adult read. The text extract is then analysed and discussed using the VIPERS strands to focus learning.  Each lesson will have a particular VIPERS focus e.g., vocabulary. Discussion and/or questions are linked to that strand to deepen children’s understanding. From the spring term of Year 6, children begin to answer a range of questions across several strands in preparation for their secondary school education. These reading skills are taught consistently from Y3 to Y6. Children use a reading response book to record their answers to the questions where relevant and these will either be self-marked in class or marked by an adult. Once a term, teachers will teach a whole one-hour reading lesson on each VIPERS strand in turn, ensuring that children have opportunity to cover the more complex objectives in enough depth. Whole class reading lessons are linked to class texts used in English as well as text extracts, non-fiction texts and poems to provide a wide range of text types.

Reading Scheme - When the children join our school in Year 3, they are individually assessed and placed onto the levelled reading scheme. Children are expected to read at home a minimum of three times a week and this is recorded on the GoRead app. GoRead is an app where teachers, parents and children can log, and record reading and children can earn rewards. Book banding week is half termly for all children on the reading scheme and during this time teachers will hear each child and see if they are ready to move up to the next level. Parents will be informed of the outcome via GoRead/ClassDojo.

Class Novel - Friday afternoon is allocated time for each teacher to read to their class from a class novel. Each year group have a list of suggested books to select their class novel from. Where possible, teachers will also read during other days and times in the week. This allows children to focus on reading for pleasure, exposes children to a wider range of texts and introduces them to new authors.

Author talks - We endeavour to have at least one author talk online or in person a year. This enables the children to be engaged and enthused by reading and the writing process and offers them a window into what life as an author is like.

Book Week - Once a year we hold reading events on and around World Book Day. These events may include author talks, competitions, dressing up, book fairs, themed lessons and other enriching activities.

Library - We have a well-stocked library with a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction texts. All children have the opportunity to visit the library regularly in either designated library lessons or during library club at lunchtimes.

 Phonics - All Year 3 children are assessed when they join our school (September). We provide phonic lessons for all pupils who need them (Phase 2 to Phase 5). We reassess pupils again in October and provide half a term intervention for any pupils still not passing Phase 5 phonics. From January (within the same academic year) we provide targeted phonics intervention for SEND pupils and lowest 20% of pupils who still need to pass Phase 5.  We use the Twinkl Phonics, which is validated Department for Education scheme. Children who are on Phase 2 to 5 supplement their learning with Rising Stars books. Additionally, homework also matches pupils’ respective phonic phase.  

SEND / 20% of Lowest Attaining Readers - We provide additional support for those pupils who are on our SEND register and who struggle with their reading (decoding or comprehension). We use these strategies to support 20% of our lowest attaining readers. We use:

  • Reading Eggs
  • Toe by Toe / Hornet
  • VIPERS skills grids for previous year groups (where relevant)
  • Additional phonics teaching
  • Dyslexia specific teaching strategies
  • 1:1 reading daily
  • Adult support with reading activities in the class

More able readers - We provide opportunities throughout the academic year for our more able readers to develop and share their love of reading. We provide:

  • Book club
  • Activities during Book Week
  • Targeted questioning in lessons
  • A range of exciting and challenging fiction and nonfiction texts available in school
  • Cultivate independent reading for pleasure

Our school is ambitious for all pupils, and we recognise that it is important to foster a love of reading in all children. Cultivating reading for pleasure and positive attitudes to reading is an important part of the work that we do at our school.


Our staff uses a variety of assessment opportunities to assess pupils’ reading fluency. We use both formative and summative opportunities and strive to identify and diagnose difficulties so pupils can receive targeted support -where necessary. We understand that prerequisite knowledge is vital in order to comprehend reading task, hence our humanities curriculum is often based on a class reading text. A vast majority of our pupils are fluent and confident readers, who can apply their knowledge and experience to a range of texts through the Key Stage 2 curriculum.

Woodside Junior School is a high performing school, and our academic results reflect this. Historically, reading attainment has been significantly above national for the last few academic years and in the highest 20% of school nationally.  Our aim is that by the time our pupils transition to their respective secondary schools, they are fluent, confident, and able readers.  They can access a range of texts for pleasure and enjoyment, as well as use their reading skills to unlock learning in all areas of the curriculum.

We firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning, therefore  the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. Our pupils have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them. As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres cultures and styles is enhanced.


At Woodside Junior School, we endeavour to create a love for writing and an environment where all children thrive as individual writers. Ability to write well allows pupils to share their ideas, communicate with others and prepares them for living and functioning in a world of employment opportunities. Effortless writing depends on transcription (spelling and handwriting) as well as composition. Our writing curriculum ensures that all pupils have foundational skills such as sentence construction, use of grammar and vocabulary as well as spelling and handwriting.  It makes certain that pupils at Woodside have the skills and capacity not only to be successful writers, but also have the motivation to become more independent in the writing process as they progress through the school. To that end, we strive towards each child being able to:

  • Plan, draft, and re-draft their pieces
  • Write with fluency and purpose
  • Present their work neatly, correctly punctuated and spelt correctly
  • Choose appropriate word choice from a sophisticated bank of vocabulary as well as drawing words from their own reading
  • Structure and organise their writing to suit the purpose of the piece
  • Write with clarity and cohesion, using appropriate devices to aid this
  • Understand and include a variety of complex sentence structures
  • Proof-read, edit and improve their work so every piece of ‘published’ writing is produced to the best of their ability and improves on their first draft
  • Have an ‘author’s voice’ whereby they consider the impact they want their writing to have on the reader and navigate the best word choices, sentence structures and presentation devices to achieve the desired impact on the reader
  • Write for a range of audiences and purposes, and write a range of text types (for example, diary, biography, narrative, letter, newspaper report, explanation, non-chronological report, interview, play script)

We have a carefully and coherently sequenced curriculum.  The skills for writing are mapped out to ensure each year builds on the previous one. Within our broad writing curriculum, there is a balance of both fiction and non- fiction writing in all year groups and the progression of skills ensures that each text type, and class text which inspires it, (take diary writing as an example) becomes progressively more complex as the children move through the school. By the time pupils leave our school, they will have had opportunities to write in different genres and produce many forms of writing such as, persuasive, narrative, expository and descriptive.

Research suggests that greater knowledge of the topic leads to better writing, consequently our writing curriculum often links with the topics and related texts studied during English and humanities lessons.  Our staff aims to ensure that our pupils understand the characteristics of texts written for specific purposes and audiences and always strive to motivate pupils to write.  This includes writing in collaboration and for real purpose as well as sharing with a wider audience.  Our pupils take pride in their finished pieces of writing, which are published in their cross-curricular books.

Implementation -Writing

Woodside staff understands that writing is a process that involves pupils learning to plan, draft, revise, edit and publish their writing.  Once proficient, pupils can apply these skills independently and in a variety of contexts.  However, we also acknowledge the importance of explicit teaching of skills as sentence construction, grammar, use of vocabulary as well as spellings and handwriting (in younger year groups).

As teachers and pupils recognise the link between reading and successful writing, writing opportunities are entwined with our whole class texts, which are studied and enjoyed via daily reading sessions. Due to this, the learning journey stems from what the pupils have read. Writing tasks are embedded within characters, plots, settings, and historical aspects of the chosen text, whilst also ensuring pupils are taught relevant grammatical skills. This encourages rich, challenging vocabulary, opportunities for meaningful and thoughtful writing content, increased writing fluency as well as a real love of writing.

A variety of text purposes are explored, modelled, and re-created, whereby pupils learn the features of pieces which inform, persuade, discuss or entertain the reader. This is how the pupils learn how to manipulate word choice, sentence length and structure to achieve the desired impact on the reader.

Our book-lead approach provides opportunities for a ‘hook’ into writing tasks, however practical activities, school trips, videos, audio tracks are often used to engage all pupils in their writing lessons. We firmly believe that this approach enables pupils to acquire and retain knowledge more successfully, leading them to build writing processes into their long-term memory, becoming fluent and eventually sophisticated writers, who can write effectively for purpose and for a variety of audiences.

During the build-up to a longer writing piece, embedded within writing lessons, spelling, grammar and punctuation is taught, modelled and practised by the pupils. Teaching spelling, punctuation, and grammar in context, ensures the pupils apply their skills to their own writing and understand the impact on the reader.  These skills are revisited, where appropriate and if necessary, for their upcoming writing piece or if teachers identify a gap.

In classrooms, key vocabulary, writing resources and ‘non-negotiables’ are clearly displayed in classrooms to encourage independent writing, recall and application of prior knowledge during lessons.

As well as having a curriculum which is ambitious for all pupils, the English lessons themselves aim to cater for different pupils’ needs as the range of stimuli for writing ensures all pupils’ preferred learning style is met. Teachers are confident in identifying pupils who require scaffolded tasks - from pupil progress meetings, their own marking or from assessment of learning within lessons. In response, tasks and levels of support are scaffolded, adapted, or changed in order to ensure all pupils can access their learning, and produce writing of their best ability.

In contrast, more able pupils, who can work above the expectations, are challenged by completing adapted tasks which require more autonomy in their writing. Often tasks will allow them to use their flare and creativity to put their own ‘stamp’ on their writing.

All pupils are encouraged to proof-read their own writing, against year group specific ‘non-negotiables’ which ensure that pupils always achieve their best, do not overlook mistakes and encourages independence during writing lessons. Once written, pupils have opportunities to self-assess, peer-assess, or receive in-depth, purposeful feedback from teachers to further their learning before redrafting their final piece. Redrafted pieces are ‘published’ in cross curricular books which showcase writing from a variety of subjects, encouraging high quality writing throughout our curriculum. Published pieces are presented in a variety of ways, encouraging the pupils to use their creativity and take pride in their writing as well as provide purpose for their writing.

Published writing is celebrated via class displays, achievement assemblies, visits from the head-teacher or via peer reviews. Pieces which are designed to be performed or spoken aloud are given the opportunity to do so to showcase their speaking and listening skills.

To plan such a well-structured and carefully sequenced writing curriculum, teachers are provided with appropriate training and support from the writing subject leader, who models and sets expectations of the planning and delivery of the curriculum clearly. Teachers use skills progression grids to ensure the curriculum is taught in a continually progressive way and which embeds previous learning as well as introduce new skills to challenge and improve their writing skillset as pupils progress from through the school.

Long Term Planning Overviews show the progression of texts used as a stimulus to write as well as the variety of text types produced and coverage of text purposes (discuss, persuade, inform, and entertain).

Teachers’ weekly planning outlines the writing stimulus, outcome, skills (from skills progression grids) as well as a commentary and explanation of activities, and key questions to scaffold and challenge. Detailed in the plans, are purposeful learning objectives, engaging hooks to learning as well as differentiated tasks to ensure all pupils achieve their writing potential.

The Writing subject leader carries out monitoring which ensures the high standard of teaching and learning is consistent and progressive across the school. Termly pupil progress meetings identify needs of individuals and highlight ‘focus pupils’ for writing, which allows teachers to plan ways in which they will ensure each child meets, or exceeds, their individual writing potential. Focus pupils are identified on weekly planning documents.

The spelling lists that we use for the children can be found on the Year Group Pages.


Woodside can be confident that all pupils are competent and confident writers as teachers have a clear understanding of the year group expectations for each standard of writing. Teachers look for examples of this in the independent writing which pupils produce. Independent writing opportunities, which showcase a variety of text types and purposes, are planned into the teaching units, and are considered a progressive ‘follow-on’ from a scaffolded piece of writing which has been modelled, explored, and discussed in previous lessons. Pupils’ independent writing, whether short burst or long pieces are published and used to showcase progress and the evidence of teacher judgements. Writing moderations between classes and year groups are planned into the school calendar to ensure teacher assessments are consistent and progressive, in line with year group expectations. Within the Trust, writing moderations are also attended to allow for cross-school moderation of writing thus ensuring Woodside’s high-quality writing and teacher assessments are withheld.

Due to the carefully sequenced and high standard of planning and teaching of writing, our pupils can apply skills they have learnt in writing lessons to writing across the curriculum.  High quality writing is evident across the subjects.

At Woodside, pupils take pleasure in writing and so, when faced with a whole school writing task, pupils enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their own creativity, understanding and writing proficiency by independently undertaking the writing process (plan, draft, edit and redraft) to produce purposeful and effective writing pieces which carefully consider the reader.

Writing ‘Pupil Voice’ questionnaires, completed during the subject leader’s monitoring cycle,  demonstrate the impact of teaching, student’s enjoyment of the subject and their understanding of the importance of writing at Woodside, in their future schooling career and beyond.  Pupils’ outcomes are consistently high and above national and are within 20% of schools nationally.