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At Claygate, we believe our writers should have the ambition and confidence to create and write independently, having been inspired by a diverse range of experiences, texts and people. They will be able to choose and use a wide range of vocabulary and techniques, which allow the writing to flow and suits the purpose for which it is intended. Our children will reflect on their own and others writing and will understand that writing has a real purpose and can bring about change. 

English lessons take place every day for approximately an hour and are often linked to other curriculum areas eg. history topic learning. The children are taught as a class and are immersed in the rich vocabulary needed to shine as authors. Pre-teaching and focus groups enable children of all abilities to succeed. Throughout the year, children explore a range of genres and styles of writing.  At the beginning of each unit, the learning journey, steps to success and expected outcomes are shared with the children to bring meaning, context and purpose to their learning. Steps to success are often co-constructed with the children after unpicking examples of the genre being studied. Their learning journey is captured on the class Working Wall in order to support and prompt them throughout the unit. After 1-2 weeks of modelled and shared writing, and sometimes drama activities, each child is challenged to produce a final piece, in which they independently incorporate all that they have learnt. Class teachers will then deep mark or have individual or small group ’conference’ sessions to explore next steps to improve their work. The children then have the opportunity to edit and publish a finale piece.  

Claygate’s approach to Phonics

At Claygate, we teach the order of sounds in line with the Read Write Inc phonics scheme. This gives Early Years practitioners and teachers a powerful phonics teaching tool to ensure that all children are well-placed to read and spell words with fluency and confidence by the time they reach the end of Key Stage One. In Read Write Inc phonics, the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – we aim for every child to learn to read them effortlessly and with instant recall.

Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds. They are taught in the following order:

  • m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk

There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’. These are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g. ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high. When children learn their Set 2 sounds they will learn:

 · the letters that represent a speed sound e.g. ay

 · a simple picture prompt linked to the ‘speed sound’ and a short phrase to say e.g. ‘May I play?’

In Year One, discrete phonics sessions are taught on a daily basis within class. The phonics are then reinforced through English and topic based activities as well as during Reading for Meaning sessions. Taught phonemes are displayed clearly on Learning Walls and referred to regularly to ensure learning is embedded. Parents are informed of the sounds we are teaching through our Reception weekly newsletter and our Year 1 topic webs.

By the end of Year 1, children should:

  • give the sound when shown any grapheme that has be taught;
  • for any given sound, write the common graphemes;
  • apply phonic knowledge and skill as a prime approach to reading and spelling unfamiliar words that are not completely decodable;
  • read and spell phonically decodable two-syllable and three-syllable words;
  • read automatically all the words in the list of 100 high-frequency words;
  • accurately spell most of the words in the list of 100 high-frequency words;
  • form each letter correctly.

*Phonemes – a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word that can change its meaning (e.g. in bed/led the difference between the phonemes b/l signals the difference in meaning between the words bed and led).

**Grapheme – A grapheme is a symbol of a phoneme, that is, a letter or group of letters representing a sound.

High Frequency Words

A phonics session each week focuses on high-frequency words. These words are displayed in classrooms and referred to regularly.

Nonsense Words

As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word whether real or nonsense. Children practice their decoding skills by sounding out the letters in ‘Alien words’. Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Test which children complete at the end of Year 1.

The following websites have enjoyable games for your child to play to practice their reading of alien words:

bbc bitesize

Claygate’s approach to Spelling

Spelling rules are taught explicitly twice a week for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and recapped throughout the week. We use the Spelling Shed scheme of work. At the beginning of each spelling rule, pupils complete a range of tasks based on that rule and words are clearly displayed on Learning Walls for the duration of that week. Children’s understanding is assessed weekly through a spelling test or activity.

Year 1 are given a set of weekly spellings to learn which are linked to the target phonemes taught that week. Spellings are checked in a weekly spelling quiz from Autumn Term 2 onwards.

Claygate’s approach to Reading

Reading is a fundamental lifelong skill which is key to our understanding of the world and unlocks learning. Reading is a partnership between all of us. Our children become fluent, competent readers who develop a strong desire to read.

In order to achieve this we will;

  • Use a progressive and consistent approach to the teaching of reading which is evidence based;
  • Explicitly teach the skills and strategies of reading;
  • Use a robust approach to the assessment of reading;
  • Quickly identify children who are not making the expected progress in decoding and/or comprehension and ensure effective early intervention is put in place;
  • Ensure a rich diet of reading where our children are exposed to a range of genres, authors and styles to increase breadth and vocabulary;
  • Read to children daily.

At Claygate, we follow the Cliff Moon colour-coded reading scheme in the EYFS and Key Stage 1. 

Please also see the year group pages for the phonics presentations we gave to parents of pupils in EYFS and KS1 this term.

Please see the following link for regularly edited and up to date book recommendations for each age group as well as a list of 100 books to read before leaving primary school

Reading for Meaning

Reading for Meaning sessions are an integral part of our curriculum. During these daily sessions, the teacher listens and discusses a book or text extract with a focus group.

A specific reading focus eg retrieval of information, or inference is targeted, taught and discussed. The reading materials are level dependent.  During these sessions, other groups engage in a variety of independent tasks. These include: pre-reading activities, reading comprehensions and follow up tasks from group reading with the class teacher based on the reading learning for that week.

OTTER and Library Sessions

At Claygate we want our children to have a passion for reading and to engage and enjoy reading as a pleasurable pastime. Children therefore have a daily independent reading slot; ‘Our Time To Enjoy Reading’ shortened to ‘OTTER’. At this time the teacher will listen to individual readers.

Every week, each class has an allocated library session during which children are able to browse, read silently for pleasure and choose a non-fiction or fiction book to take out.  Library sessions are also a time for teachers to read with guided reading groups or specifically targeted children. 

Accelerated Reader

During Year 2, once a certain level of reading proficiency has been reached, children engage with Accelerated Reader. Children select and read a ‘real’ book from a wide range of authors and genres at their own level before completing a short quiz on the computer. Each quiz gives an indication that the child has understood what has been read and the AR system collates information on reading fluency, reading proficiency, range of genres read etc. This allows us to monitor children’s independent reading practice and comprehension and provides both children and teachers with feedback which celebrates successes and helps set targets.

When quizzing on your AR books, please ensure you login through our own school portal link found here. 

Local author alert!

Our current Author Spotlight is Julian Clary, author of The Bolds. 


"Leaders have made improvements in the teaching of reading, especially the teaching of phonics in early years and key stage 1." - OFSTED 2020

"A more consistent way of teaching phonics, including in the early years, has helped more of the youngest pupils learn to read sooner." - OFSTED 2020