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Literacy / English

Curriculum Area - Literacy


Mr C McCune (Infant School) and Miss R Murray (Junior School) are our English Curriculum Leaders and they have responsibility for Writing.


Mrs K Court (Infant School) and Miss F Warner (Junior School) have responsibility for Reading.


Mrs L Haynes (Infant School) has responsibility for Phonics.


Mrs L Haynes (Infant School) and Miss R Murray (Junior School) have responsibility for Spelling.



At Chalfont St. Giles Village School we believe Literacy has a dominant place in education and in society. A high-quality education in Literacy will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society therefore we place high value of the quality first teaching we deliver as part of our Literacy curriculum.


The overarching aim for Literacy in our school 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. We aim 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

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

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

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


Literacy is timetabled daily during the morning session. Literacy lessons involve the teaching of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The school regularly monitors the standards of literacy within the school, with the aim of raising standards.


Literacy is used across the curriculum and we ensure that we provide purposeful, extended writing opportunities to apply literacy skills and enable pupils to see themselves as writers in a range of contexts particularly during topic lessons.


The school places a lot of emphasis on developing discussion skills, speaking and listening and role-play as we firmly believe that children need to develop a wide and exciting vocabulary and need to structure their ideas.


A variety of media is also used as a stimulus to learning, including audiotapes, drama, computers and outside speakers.


We use the outdoor learning environment to support our teaching and learning and to provide the children with real experiences, i.e. going on a Bear Hunt, so we can deepen our knowledge of this shared story, talk about feelings the hunt provokes and create a shared story map.


Supporting Parents and Carers:


We hold a termly meeting with parents to share how we teach and support reading and writing throughout the school day. The dates and times of these meetings are varied to ensure that all parents and carers can attend. The fortnightly school newsletter has a diary of forthcoming events to ensure that everyone knows when these meetings are happening.


Speaking and Listening:


Supporting the development of strong speaking and listening skills is central to our teaching of pupils in all aspects-cognitively, socially and linguistically. From the outset in the Early Years we have a clear focus on raising standards in social communication and language for learning since it underpins the development of reading and writing, particularly in our Talk for Writing approach within our Power of Reading scheme (see power of reading overviews section). Throughout the school day the children have a wide range of experiences which enable them to develop their communication skills in a range of contexts. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar. The Show and Tell sessions the children engage in throughout the week allow the children to lead the speaking and listening and show some of their favourite things or tell about an activity or event that is significant to them. This initiative in particular is important in developing pupils’ confidence and competence in the spoken language and listening skills.


We ensure that our children become confident, successful young people because of our commitment to the use of talking within the learning process. Children throughout their learning use talk partners, group work and whole class work to share ideas and develop their thinking. Role play, drama, discussion, debate, presentation and decision making play a significant part in the learning process. Within drama pupils’ we encourage pupils’ to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles whilst also responding appropriately to others’ in role. In history the children will re-create scenes from the past and then brainstorm feelings and phrases that the characters may have said. In science the children have to plan an investigation with their group and decide what resources they will need. In maths pairs of children will discuss which is the best method for solving a problem and then share this with the whole class. This talk for learning supports the children’s thinking and enables them to learn from each other and structure their ideas.

In Literacy lessons we use talk for writing strategies to encourage all of the children to verbalise their ideas before they write. For example children throughout the school, within guided group work, might talk through shared story maps or make a class word and phrase banks. This ensures that they have used the vocabulary and verbalised their ideas so that they are then confident to commit their ideas to paper. From Nursery to Year 6 we model quality talk for learning and for writing, and through guided work ensure all of our children become successful users of language and who are able to express themselves clearly and communicate effectively.




The children are encouraged to read for enjoyment and understanding, as well as for information with the aim that all pupils will develop an appreciation and love of reading. We encourage children to read widely in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Reading focuses on two areas; decoding (word reading) and comprehension. Decoding skills are seen with both the segmenting and blending of unfamiliar words and the speedy recognition of familiar words. Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.


Reading books are sent home regularly with a child’s reading diary, which is completed by the teacher, parent and child. The children select reading scheme books from the centrally stored boxes on each site. These books are colour coded and link to the National Book Band scheme. These book bands in turn link to the National Curriculum levels and the assessment grids and support materials used by staff. Within each band there are a good range of books from a number of publishers- these include Oxford Reading Tree, Spirals, Oxford Literacy Web, Rigby and our new Real Readers (colour banded books that may already be on your bookshelf e.g. owl babies). The children know their book band colour and select from the appropriate box. When the children are ready their book band level is reviewed and if appropriate a new book band is allocated.


In Reception and Year 1 the children are given keywords to take home and practise reading and recognising. The aim is to improve each child’s sight vocabulary (ability to see a word and know it immediately without sounding it out). We ask parents to support us with this task to ensure the best possible outcomes for the children. These words are used regularly within reading and writing and, once learnt, they help children with their word recognition and flow of reading and writing.


From Reception class to Year 6 all children across the schools participate in weekly guided reading sessions where key skills are taught alongside high quality book discussion. Areas for parents to support with in reading are identified within the reading diaries. We have parents and support staff who also help practise key reading skills through out each week.


The schools have well-stocked libraries and each classroom has a variety of reading material including fiction, poetry, library books, dictionaries and encyclopaedias. The children are free to visit the library during lunch times at the Junior School and in the Infant School the children go out a group at a time to change their library books at a point in the week. We use a computerised system to log the books that the children have selected to take home. (All data stored on this system is held securely and is deleted when children leave the school).The school also has a strong link with the village community library and visits beyond school hours are encouraged through an annual reading challenge.


Phonics (the knowledge of sounds) and Spelling:


Alongside the development of reading, the school has a structured approach to the learning of phonics. At our school the teaching and learning of phonics is based around the Jolly Phonics Program. During their time at the school each child gains experience of each of the phases described below. They work through each phase over a 6 week period and at the end of the phase their knowledge and skills are reviewed and next steps identified. Parents receive a weekly letter to share the sounds we are working on at school so that they are able to support our work at home. They are also given a list of tricky words (words which are difficult to spell using sounds alone i.e. was) to practise at home and a day is stated when the teacher will check these words.


The focus when segmenting (breaking up words into sounds) and blending (putting sounds together to make words) is on hearing the sounds in the order they appear in the word.

During the Summer term of Year 1 the children have a phonics test to ascertain if they have reached the Nationally expected standards for children at the end of Year 1. The results of these tests are communicated with parents along with each child’s annual report. Children that do not meet the National requirement will be retested in Year 2.


Phase 1 - Experimenting with sounds.


Children identify sounds through play and experimentation. They are encouraged to listen to and discern the difference between sounds and create a wide range of sounds for themselves.


Phase 2.


The children will be learning individual sounds and developing their skills at blending and segmenting these sounds for spelling and reading.

At this stage parents should be encouraging their children to play sound games and practice sounds at home i.e. I-Spy.

At this stage children begin to make CVC (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant) words i.e. cat.


Phase 3.


Once the children know all their letters, common sounds such as sh, th, st, pr, and ch are introduced.

At this stage parents should be encouraging their child to blend and segment words when they are playing games with words and /or reading.

At this stage children practise making CVC (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant) words i.e. cat and begin to make CCVC (i.e. ship) and CVCC (i.e. much) words.


Phase 4.


Common end sounds i.e. ng, ll, ff, ld,.lp are introduced.

At this stage parents should be encouraging their child to blend and segment words when they are playing games with words and /or reading.

At this stage children practise making CCVC (i.e. ship) and develop their range of CVCC (i.e. mend) words.


Phase 5.


The sounds represented by more than one letter are taught i.e. ai, ea, ir etc.

At this stage parents should be encouraging their child to blend and segment words when they are playing games with words and /or reading.

The children are now developing their knowledge and skills with vowel diagraphs( two vowels that when put together make a new sound) such as ai as in maid, ea as in bear and ir as in bird. They also work with split vowel diagraphs such as a-e as in fare.


Phase 6.


Children will learn word families and review their knowledge.

The children at this stage and beyond develop their spelling further and meet the full range of spelling rules, develop knowledge of word roots and meanings and use common suffixes and prefixes to build their vocabulary.


Beyond Phase 6.


The children continue to be taught spelling and each year group is taught specific spelling rules and vocabulary to build their knowledge and experience further. This continues into Year 6 where the children are deepening their skills and knowledge ready for their next phase in education.




We want all of our children to become successful and confident writers. From the beginnings of Nursery through to the end of Year 6 the children develop their writing skills through a wide range of purposeful and exciting activities and experiences. The following terms are used to describe the phases each child will have experience of during their time at school. There are two aspects of writing, ‘transcription’ (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).


Emergent writing - is used to describe the initial stages of writing where children are exploring mark making to communicate meaning.

Unaided writing - is used to describe writing completed independently, a ‘have a go’ piece. i.e. making a best guess at spellings the children do not know.

Supported or guided writing - is used to describe specific writing opportunities which have guidance and input from the teacher.


Our writing plans are directly linked to the topics for each half term when appropriate. This ensures that extended, purposeful writing opportunities are planned across the curriculum which will engage and encourage the children with their writing. Through these well-structured units of work the children are also directly taught grammar and punctuation. Each unit lasts for either 2-3 weeks to ensure in depth coverage of a genre. Towards the end of the unit the children use the skills they have been taught and apply these to their writing in the Big Write sessions. For example in Year 2 one of our topics is ‘Africa’. Year 2 focus on ‘The Kenyan Boy’ to assist their ‘Writing from different cultures’.


Talk for Writing within the Power of Reading Literacy Scheme is an approach that the school has embraced and is an extremely successful method of teaching which focuses on speaking and listening strategies in order to embed a model text. Teachers plan and often write a text (story, explanation text, non-chronological report etc) related to their topic which the children then orally rehearse, alongside actions and a text map. This text is then rehearsed on a daily basis using the actions and pictures as prompts so they children can internalise the structure and language patterns of the text. Plenty of language games are played to ensure the children have a clear and deep understanding of the text and the children create a best recipe of features for that genre. Once the text has been internalised the children alter aspects of the story/non-fiction text in order to make it their own. The quality of some of the Big-Writes this year have been outstanding due to the confidence this approach has instilled in them.




The school has a handwriting policy centred on a cursive script. Physical development in the Nursery and Reception classes includes plenty of opportunity to develop eye-hand co-ordination and fine and gross muscle control which will in enable each child to be a successful writer. The children gain a wide range of experiences in the Early Years in order to learn the correct letter shapes and formation.


These activities include:

  • practising patterns in the sand tray.

  • chalking in the playground.

  • writing on whiteboards - individual and in the classroom.

  • finger painting.

  • painting outside with large paintbrushes.


As the children move through the school they continue to build their handwriting skills and these become more refined. Each week the children have specific time allocated to developing these skills. The children focus on learning shape and letter patterns and the following letter families.


All those that start with an anti-clockwise turn c, a, o, d, g, q, s

All those with long and short straight lines l, t, u, y

All those that start at the top, descend and go back up the line n, m, r, p, b, h, k

All those made with zig-zag lines v, w, x, z



Once the letters are being formed in the correct direction, children will be encouraged to consider placement on the lines (e.g. hanging ascenders below the line) and differentiation between upper and lower case letters. Once children are solidly demonstrating these skills, joins will be taught which often happens in year 2 with the view to fluently joining and writing in pen during year 3.