I'm Miss Blacker and I am the subject leader for Writing, SPaG and Handwriting here at Bleak Hill Primary School. This is a very exciting position to have as this subject is the basis for all other learning. By developing pupils’ competence in reading, writing, speaking and listening, enables them to access all areas of our broad and exciting curriculum as well as skills they can take out into their futures. I aim to support and enable children to communicate their own ideas and emotions through creating a love of literature and language!


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At Bleak Hill Primary School we provide a stimulating and challenging English curriculum that prepares our pupils for life beyond our school and for the ever changing world in which they live. We believe that a love for reading culture is central to learning, every child should have the opportunity to read for pleasure. We firmly believe that reading feeds children’s imagination. We also believe that every child should be given the tools to develop into an enthusiastic and confident reader both at home and at school. Reading improves language and vocabulary, inspires imagination and gives everyone the opportunity to develop and foster new interests. Our teaching of writing aims to enable children to enjoy using language in different contexts and have the confidence and ability to do so. We strive to encourage our pupils to become independent, enthusiastic and lifelong writers who can communicate their own ideas and emotions well.

Sound English skills are essential for progress across the curriculum and to prepare pupils effectively for tasks of adult life. At Bleak Hill English underpins learning in every subject and we work to ensure there are significant opportunities across the wider curriculum for pupils to embed their literacy skills.

All teachers have a responsibility to develop pupils’ competence in reading, writing, speaking and listening in their own subjects and to ensure that pupils become competent users of language, and can access the curriculum effectively and achieve their potential.

Bleak Hill Primary School:

• Recognises the effect that a confident, fluent and coherent understanding of English will have on a pupil’s progress, both inside and outside of the school environment.

• Understands how a strong grounding in English will impact the future learning and development of a pupil in all aspects of their life

• Provides a balanced and broad curriculum which encompasses writing practice, including handwriting, spelling, widening vocabulary, and writing for different styles, purposes, and audiences, as well as focussing on spoken English, reading, grammar and pronunciation.

• Ensures that all staff members are aware of planning, assessment, teaching and learning requirements for the English curriculum.

• Ensures that all pupils know how to plan, practise and evaluate their work.

• Ensures that all pupils understand all elements of English, as per the national curriculum.

· Develop a pupil’s love of reading through providing an opportunity to experience a range of authors and widen their understanding of the world from their exposure to a wide variety of books

· Enables all pupils to confidently communicate their knowledge, skill sand emotions through their writing.

· Ensures children acquire a wide vocabulary through a language rich environment, solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words

These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework, that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study.

The national curriculum for English 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

? 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.


· EYFS and KS1 children access daily phonics sessions

· KS2 children access our library and follow our Accelerated Reader program

· Children in every class are read part of a class novel every day

· Children across school have time in the school day to enjoy reading for pleasure

· Teachers target the lowest 20% of readers to ensure they are making good progress

· Children are given regular opportunities to improve their reading fluency

· Children have access to specific books linked to each curriculum area.


· Children are introduced to a new writing driver each half term

· Children have the opportunity to write in a range of different genres for each writing driver

· Children have a range of opportunities for independent writing each half term

· Teachers plan well-structured lessons that demonstrate high quality modelled writing.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

· Children have opportunities to further knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar through writing lessons

· Children will access weekly explicit punctuation and grammar lessons

· Children are taught weekly spelling rules

· EYFS and KS1 are taught daily sounds and have opportunities for spelling during daily phonics lessons.

We ensure that children acquire the appropriate skills and knowledge to prepare them for the next stage of their education and adult life.


· Children in EYFS and KS1 are making good or better progress with their sound knowledge and reading fluency

· Children in KS2 are using accelerated reading books on a regular basis and are quizzing in class

· Children at Bleak Hill have a love for reading

· The 20% of readers targeted are making good progress

· Reading fluency across school has made good or better progress

· Subject specific books are in every classroom and accessible to all children.


· Children write in a range of different genres using a writing driver each half term

· Children write high-quality independent pieces of writing using well modelled teacher examples.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

· Children are showing progress with spelling, punctuation and grammar in their writing

· Children showing good or better progress in each year group in termly assessments.


Early Reading/Phonics


At Bleak Hill Primary School we aim for all our children to become fluentconfident readers who are passionate about reading.


Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds!

More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.

We can achieve this together through:

  • Read Write Inc, a program to help to your child read at school
  • Encouraging children to develop a love of books by reading to them daily, at home and at school
  • Giving children access to a wide range of books at school and at home


At Bleak Hill we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their Literacy development.  Mr Dagnall is our Read Write Inc lead teachers, so if you have questions about RWI, contact school who can refer you to them. 

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.  The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. However, at Bleak Hill we begin the programme in Reception and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7, as we use a stage not age approach. RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at https://ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/.


How will RWI be taught?

All children are assessed regularly by our RWI lead teacher.  From these assessments children are grouped into stages, where they work with peers on the same stage.



When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds.

In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.



The children:

  • Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
  • Learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
  • Read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • Work well with partners
  • Develop comprehension skills in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions



The children:

  • Learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • Learn to write words by using Fred Talk
  • Learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write 



The children

  • They work in pairs so that they:
  • Answer every question
  • Practise every activity with their partner
  • Take turns in talking and reading to each other
  • Develop ambitious vocabulary

Progressing through the stages

Children follow the same format as Early Years but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics lasting 30 - 45 minutes (year group dependent)  Once children become fluent speedy readers they will move on to the RWI Comprehension Programme.


Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:  

Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about

Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning

Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability

Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning

Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.


Children will be taught how to read as follows:


Before you start to teach your child, practice saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English. Children initially begin using pictures for each sound, this will help children recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound. 


Fred Talk

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We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.

At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.


The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.


Step 1:


Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.


Set 1




Down Maisie then over the two mountains. Maisie, mountain, mountain.


Round the apple, down the leaf.


Slide around the snake


Round the dinosaur's back, up his neck and down to his feet.


Down the tower, across the tower,


Down the insects body, dot for the head.


Down Nobby and over the net.


Down the plait, up and over the pirates face.


Round the girls face, down her hair and give her a curl


All around the orange


Curl around the caterpillar


Down the kangaroos body, tail and leg


Down and under the umbrella, up to the top and down to the puddle


Down the laces, over the toe and touch the heel


Down the stem and draw the leaves


Slice into the egg, go over the top, then under the egg


Down the long leg


Down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Slither down the snake, then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Down the robot's back, then up and curl


Down his body, curl and dot


Down a wing, up a wing


Down a horn, up a horn and under the yak's head.


Down, up, down, up the worm.


Down the tower, across the tower, then down the horse’s head to the hooves and over his back


Zig-zag-zig, down the zip.


Curl around the caterpillar, , then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Round the queen’s head, up to her crown, down her hair and curl


Cross down the arm and leg and cross the other way


A thing on a string


I think I stink

At this stage we do not use the letter names

Use the link below to support your pronunciation  sounds correctly.


Step 2:


The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels. When they are very confident with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.


Long  vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound cards

Teach these first

Set 3 Speed Sound cards


ay: may I play

a-e: make a cake

ai: snail in the rain


ee: what can you see

ea: cup of tea

e: he me we she be


igh: fly high

i-e: nice smile


ow: blow the snow

o-e: phone home

ao: goat in a boat


oo: poo at the zoo

u-e: huge brute

ew: chew the stew


oo: look at a book




ar: start the car




or: shut the door

aw: yawn at dawn



air: that’s not fair

are: share and care



ir: whirl and twirl

ur: nurse for a purse

er: a better letter


ou: shout it out

ow: brown cow



oy: toy for a boy

oi: spoil the boy




ire: fire fire!




ear: hear with your ear




ure: sure it’s pure?



Nonsense words (Alien words)- What 'a load' or nonsense!       

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As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.  These words provide endless opportunities for children to apply and practice their thinking in a range of different contexts. 

Step 3:

Within all the  RWI sessions/books children will be exposed to red and green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.

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Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes.

During the RWI session children will read the book three times and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills. You may have heard your child talking about ‘hold, edit or build a sentence’.

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practice their spelling, grammar and punctuation.

To help at home:

Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers, relating to their reading stage. You will find they will bring home a phonics-based book, this will aid application, speed and fluency- developing speedy reading!  Following on from this, they will bring a comprehension-based book which will begin to enrich their reading, which will require decoding skills.  Only then, children will bring home enriched reading books which will enhance their understanding via inspirational language promoting depth to their understanding.

Useful websites for Parents

Please find a list of websites that you may find useful in helping you and your child learn about phonics. Games and fun activity websites are also included.

https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/find-out-more/parents/ - Information and resources to support phonics learning at home

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/literacy/phonics/play/ - fun games for the children to play

http://www.ictgames.com/literacy.html  - fun games for the children to play

http://www.firstschoolyears.com/  - fun games for the children to play

BBC Bitesize - many games to play covering all areas of the curriculum



Reading at Bleak Hill

Reading is of paramount importance at Bleak Hill. It is something that we prioritise in our curriculum in a number of ways. We have our Reading Spines which link books to subjects within our curriculum; we practise reading skills daily as part of our Whole Class Reading sessions, we read for pleasure and also have writing drivers that provide the basis for our English curriculum.

Whole Class Reading Sessions

During our whole class reading lessons our children are explicitly taught the skills of reading (outlined in the National Curriculum and the KS1 and KS2 test domains).

KS1 Reading Skills:

1a: Draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts (Vocabulary)

1b: Identify/ explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction, such as characters, events, titles and information (Retrieve)

1c: Identify and explain the sequences of events in texts (Sequence)

1d: Make inferences from the text (Infer)

1e: Predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far (Predict)

KS2 Reading Skills:

2a: Give/explain the meaning of words in context. [Word Knowledge]

2b: Retrieve and record information/identify key details from fiction and non-fiction. [Sign Posting]

2c: Summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph.

2d: Make inferences from the text/explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text.

2e: Predict what might happen from details stated and implied.

2f: Identify/explain how information/narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole.

2g: Identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases. [Word Choice]

2h: Make comparisons within the text.

Whole Class Reading Lesson Structure

Monday Interrogate the Text - retrieval based questions on the selected text for the week
Tuesday Vocabulary - understanding definitions of ambitious vocabulary used in the text
Wednesday Model and Mirror - deduction based questions answered as a class
Thursday Warm Application - independent questions assessing children's understanding of the text
Friday Cold Application - comprehension activity on an unseen text


Reading for Pleasure and Accelerated Reader

We believe that it is vital that children have time to read a variety of books so they enjoy reading. Reading for Pleasure. This reading is not to work towards an objective or a writing opportunity to but to simply get lost in a book and become a life long reader.

We use Accelerated Reader at Bleak Hill to motivate and enthuse childre to read for pleasure and to celebrate our children's amazing reading across the year at school.

What is Accelerated Reader?

AR is part of the Renaissance Reading software package recently adopted by the school to encourageand motivate children to become avid readers and enable our classes to build communities of readers.  

Your child will choose a book at their own level and read it at their own pace.  When finished, they will take a short quiz on the computer, the quiz allows teachers to track the books that the children have enjoyed also gives a word count so that we are able to celebrate our word millionaires within school.

AR is used as part of a comprehensive reading programme in place at Bleak Hill  Primary School for children in from Year 2 - 6.  While we continue to teach the skills of reading in class through whole class reading texts and whole class texts, the AR books chosen by your child will provide them with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed. 

What are STAR Reading Tests?          

Every child taking part in AR will complete a STAR reading test at the beginning of the year and at the start of each half-term.  It is a roughly twenty minute multiple choice reading assessment completed individually on the computer.  Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses so if their response is correct, the difficulty level is increased.  If they miss a question or give an incorrect answer, the difficulty level is reduced. 

The STAR reading test, along with teacher judgement assists us in identifying a child’s ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) range and provides the children with an area of books to choose from in the library. 

Class Novel

Reading aloud is one of the most important elements to our reading for pleasure element at Bleak Hill. Reading aloud allows our children to experience and enjoy rich, texts that they might not meet otherwise. We make it a priority at Bleak Hill and have a dedicated class novel set for each year group across the year. Reading aloud is a non negotiable that occurs everyday and time is specifically allocated to enable all of our children to have this quality listening and appreciation time. By reading well chosen books aloud, teachers help classes to become communities of readers – ensuring they can all share in experiences of a wide repertoire of books they enjoy. This links to the commitment we have to deepening and broadening our children’s vocabulary and promoting reading for pleasure.



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