Our English overview

Intent: Our aim is for 100% of children to leave KS1 able to read and write.  Children leaving KS2 will be able to read fluently at their chronological age and write effectively for a range of purposes, being adventurous with vocabulary and draw from their reading.  In order to do this we provide high quality texts to ignits and enthuse our pupils. Our English Reading Spine for 2022 - 2023 can be seen here:

Ark Castledown Reading Spine

Learning to read

Ark Castledown is commited to putting reading at the centre of our curriculum and ensuring that every child is a reader.

To ensure the strongest start in Early Reading the synthetic phonics programme Read Write Inc is used.  Children from Reception to Year 2 receive a daily RWI lessons, with opportunities throughout the school day to practise and apply the taught skills. Year 1 and Year 2 pupils also benefit from having an additional speed sound lesson in the afternoon to further embed the skills taught in the morning RWI lesson.  

This is proven to develop:

-fluent, enthusiastic readers, deep comprehension of texts, confident speakers and keen writers.

Young readers develop at different rates and the ability of readers in a class can vary therefore we set our pupils by ability for these sessions. Regular termly assessment allows us to track our pupil’s attainment and consequently our phonics groups are regularly reviewed and changed.

Read to Succeed

Children in Year 2 upwards participate in Read to Succeed sessions, teaching them to develop their fluency, vocabulary understanding and comprehension skills. Within the Read to Succeed sessions, children are taught the skills to analyse the text with an emphasis on the understanding of vocabulary and autorial intent. Children will also learn how to make links and connections between texts and be able to discuss themes, make deductions and discuss their feelings and preferences towards the text studied. Year groups have a spine text for each term to work from to extend the children’s understanding of authors and genres.  As a result of this, these books play an integral part in supporting the development children’s writing skills.  In addition, supplementary texts from a range of genres including poetry and non-fiction are interwoven through the reading programme to ensure pupils are exposed to a weath of quality texts.

Reading for pleasure   

At Ark Castledown we are striving to become a reading school where all children and adults read for pleasure and can share in the joy of books. All our children have access to a shared library, well stocked with a wide variety of quality texts which are continuously updated and reviewed. These books are discussed and recommended as a class, during the Reading for Pleasure sessions. Children make informed choices about their own reading preferences based on the discussions in class. In order to promote reading for pleasure, we designate specific weekly timetabled slots. We ensure that during these times children can read books of their choice, have social interactions about books and share their views and feelins about authors, illustartors and genres. Oracy also play a vital part in these sessions.  

Reading at home  

We understand the most effective thing any parent can do to help their child succeed at school is to read with them regularly. Children in all year groups will be expected to complete home reading which will be logged in their reading records.  Communication with parents will continue throughout the year with the addition of regular reading newsletters, podcasts, updates, workshops and more.

Reading Newsletters

Reading Eggs Video


Learning to write

At Castledown, writing begins from a very early age, from as soon as a child can pick up a pencil and mark make.  Gross and fine motor skills are developed through our provision within EYFS leading on to the ability for children to form letters (taught in Read Write Inc). The association between the phoneme (sound of a letter) and the grapheme (the written form) is developed further through Reception with an emphasis on forming words and short sentences.  

In Key Stage 1 children will be taught the skills of writing through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre.   

In Key Stage 2 the children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.  

Throughout both key stages the Reading Spines are used as the foundation for contextualising their writing as well as support them in the application of vocabulary, structure and genre. Alongside the links to reading, children are given enrichment opportunities linked to our humanities topics to promote and inspire writing of a high quality.    

Teacher modelling explicitly demonstrates to the children how to craft well defined sentences and paragraphs, initially scaffolding their learning to allow them to practise the skills for them to write independently. Intentional monitoring is used throughout the lessons to provide the children with timely and constructive feedback, having immediate impact on their learning.  


In Key Stage One children receive daily handwriting sessions to teach: correct letter formation, correct letter size and overall presentation.   In year 2, children will begin to learn to join up their handwriting.  In Key Stage 2 children continue to work on presentation, receiving a pen when they can fluently write in a neat cursive style.   

All children complete a termly Handwriting Hero check, in which they write a short piece for the Handwriting Hero display.  This enables children to celebrate their achievement over the year.  


Our spelling curriculum follows on from the Read Write Inc Programme taught in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group.  Children in Years 2-6 receive a 15-minute spelling lesson on a Monday where they are systematically taught the spelling rules and requirements before embedding them throughout the week through transitions, do now activities, starters and plenaries.