At Sharnbrook Primary, our aim is build a curriculum that supports every child to read for pleasure, and reach the expected standard in all areas of literacy by the end of Key Stage 2. Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. To achieve this, literacy will be at the heart of everything we do as effective literacy instruction has been proven to lead to improved outcomes for children by: unlocking the whole curriculum, increasing social mobility and enabling them to live fulfilled lives.

The way in which the English curriculum is structured in our school is designed to ensure effective literacy instruction meets the needs of every pupil at Sharnbrook Primary. In addition, the specific literacy skills needed for success in other areas of the curriculum are taught alongside the English lesson.

Early Reading

The teaching of early reading is delivered daily through the synthetic phonics programme (SSP), Little Wandle which begins in the Early Years Foundation Stage and continues throughout Year 1. If any child requires further support beyond Year 1, we continue to follow the Little Wandle Rapid Catch Up programme. We have chosen this scheme as it built upon Letters and Sounds which we used previously; is fully sequenced and aligned to the National Curriculum; and contains a comprehensive suite of CPD videos to support teaching and learning across the school. For the past two years, our Phonics Screening pass rate has been 100% with no child getting lower than 35/100.

Reading in Year 2

Reading instruction in Year 2 builds on the early reading work previously undertaken, whilst moving towards that which the children will undertake in Year 3 and beyond. Upon entering Y2, we re-assess the children who are not confident with their sounds and they follow LW Rapid Catch Up if they require it. In addition, Autumn 1 recaps the Y1 Summer 2 Phase 6 sounds. Every half term, each child reads their reading scheme book to the class teacher who assesses their progress in reading. Reading and phonics groups are conducted daily; phonics-based tasks allow children to independently rehearse previously taught skills, whilst the adults explicitly teach decoding, fluency and comprehension with their groups. Whole-class reading lessons take one of two formats: ‘unseen texts’ that comprise of either a Fred’s Reading or Literacy Shed+ resource; and a whole-class text (as detailed on our reading spine) that is slightly more challenging than the children can access by themselves, and is thus guided by the teacher to access it. Reader’s Theatre is also used within whole-class reading but is first adapted to suit the age of the children as is necessary for their developing skill level at this age.

Reading in Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2, explicit reading instruction is taught for two hours per week and builds on from the work in Year 2. Again, lessons consist of either an unseen text from either Fred’s Reading or Literacy Shed+ resources, and a high-quality text as detailed on our reading spine. These texts are selected based on both their difficulty level (as determined by a lexile analyser) and its appropriateness to the cohort; and, if genuine links can be made, to the wider curriculum. Reader’s Theatre (a strategy chosen from the EEF Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 recommendations) can be seen in approximately one in four lessons which aids comprehension and oracy skills. Reader’s Theatre is not restricted to just the reading lesson, nor fiction and poetry texts, as it works equally well across other subjects and with non-fiction texts too.

Children in Key Stage 2 who require additional support with their reading fluency and comprehension may follow one of three types of support: the Herts for Learning reading fluency project; daily reading; or thrice-weekly reading which are all undertaken in small groups.

Instilling a love of reading

To further support our pupils to engage with reading, we observe National Poetry Day, Storytelling Week and World Book Day. Furthermore, we hold book fairs and regularly engage with authors during events such as the Bedford Booktastic Children’s Book Festival.

Writing (including handwriting)

Before children can write, they must firstly develop fine motor skills and good hand-eye coordination to hold and control mark-making tools. Over time, these movements will be refined and these marks will eventually have meaning which leads to recognisable letters and words. We use the Little Wandle scheme to assist with correct letter formation at this stage.

Twinkl Cursive is our preferred handwriting style and begins with children revisiting the correct letter formations in Year 1, which are taught in 'families', before being taught how to join from Year 2. Regular handwriting sessions continue throughout Lower Key Stage 2, and beyond for those children who need further support to develop automaticity.

In KS1 we use a combination of Pathways to Write and Literacy Shed+ units to develop the children's writing skills. This approach enables us to link texts with the wider curriculum to enable our younger learners to make meaningful links between subjects and broaden their knowledge. Where Literacy Shed+ units are chosen, they are mapped to the Pathways skills to ensure consistency between key stages.

To develop a mastery approach to writing, we have implemented the Pathways to Write scheme of work in Key Stage 2 which also develops pupils’ vocabulary and reading skills through the use of high-quality, engaging texts. Throughout each unit, the children practise and master a variety of writing skills, applying the language, grammar and punctuation they have been taught to different text types.

Spelling and Grammar

The teaching of spelling first begins when the children are learning to segment as part of their daily phonics lessons, ensuring children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, and master phonics to read and spell as they move through the school.

From Year 2, we follow the Spelling Shed scheme of work which is a fully sequenced scheme of work that builds on phonics, uses morphology and etymology to strengthen spelling skills, and develops vocabulary acquisition. To aid long-term memory, we split the hour long lessons into shorter 15-20 minute teacher-led and independent activities throughout the week to avoid cognitive overload and allow time for repetition and consolidation, just like the Little Wandle scheme of work. In addition, the online platform provides the children with further consolidation in a fun and engaging way beyond the classroom. Look-Cover-Write-Check spelling lists are adapted to suit the needs of the class and a small selection of these spellings are tested through dictation each week, thus ensuring children understand their meaning and practise other important transcription skills e.g. the use of punctuation. 

Grammar is taught regularly as part of the Pathways to Write and Literacy Shed+ schemes of work which ensures skills are taught within a context children can apply them to. However, there are times when it is necessary to teach some grammar skills discretely as revisiting them regularly helps to aid long-term memory.


Oracy refers to the ability to communicate effectively through speech. Spoken language not only underpins the development of reading and writing, but also enables children to successfully access all areas of the curriculum - cognitively, socially and linguistically. As well as the physical aspects of oracy (voice and body language), children need to: engage in a wide range of quality talk that promotes thinking and learning; broaden the range and depth of their vocabulary, including the use of academic language and subject-specific terms; practise active listening to include responding appropriately to others, and understanding instructions and information given; have opportunities to present and debate; and participate in drama-based activities.

Throughout the school, we provide many opportunities to develop the children's oracy skills to include: singing nursery rhymes, retell stories orally, orally rehearse sentences before writing them, engage in discussions and debates, and participate in Reader's Theatre to name but a few. We use 'ABC That Response' as a whole-school strategy to practise actively listening and building on, or challenging (in a constructive manner), other people's ideas during discussions. In addition, we provide sentence stems to scaffold the children's responses in order that they can develop their responses effectively.

Refugee Week

For Refugee Week’s 25th anniversary we are celebrating what compassion looks like in action. Together we can create a shared understanding of compassion to ensure we are extending it widely to all. This year, we have broadened our range of books on offer to help the children understand who refugees are and the struggles they go through having to flee their countries due to war or natural disasters.

These books were displayed for all the children to see before being distributed to the classes, right from our youngest pupils in Penguins to our oldest pupils in Eagles.

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World Book Day

This year, we celebrated the joy of bedtime stories for WBD, with the children and adults spending the day in their pyjamas! In addition, every child from Reception to Year 6 got to choose from a selection of pre-selected books and enjoyed hearing different adults in school reading these to them. Children in nursery got to enjoy different stories being read to them throughout the day by different adults and even heard them being read in different locations around the school.

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We also ran a competition to create a World Book Day display which a local artist kindly offered to paint on our front doors - the winning design was created by Lauren in Year 6. The children loved watching it evolve throughout the day, and they can often be seen coming and looking at the beautiful illustrations during their break and lunchtimes. Thank you to Mrs Burns for your hard work out in the cold that day, it looks amazing!

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