Witton Gilbert Primary School


In this section of the website, you will find information about our approach to teaching English at Witton Gilbert Primary School.

English Subject Progression


At Witton Gilbert Primary School, we recognise that teaching and learning in English is an essential part of the whole development of all children, including SEND and disadvantaged children. We consider it to be vital for their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It is both an important subject in its own right and the platform for accessing the whole curriculum. At a fundamental level, English allows children to communicate, to form friendships and make their needs known. It connects us in the global world, as it is the most widely spoken and is generally regarded as the language of the internet since the majority of websites are written in English. Recent research by the National Literacy Trust has shown that vocabulary development from as young as the age of five is linked to success in exams taken at sixteen. This is why it is imperative that we model high standards of Literacy and have high expectations of our children.

The teaching of English is broken into three strands – Reading, Writing and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar, with reading being the key to developing the other skills together with skills and knowledge development across all other curriculum subjects.

Our intent is to create lifelong readers. We want to improve the links with reading at home and for pleasure. We want to provide the children with the skills they need as early as possible in speaking and listening. By doing this the children will be confident in sharing their views and opinions. It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate effectively.

At Witton Gilbert Primary School, we want all pupils to leave Year 6 reading and writing with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to take responsibility for their own learning, including monitoring and correcting their own errors; with a love of reading and a desire to read for enjoyment; with an interest in words and their meanings.

We aim to develop children as writers by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. 

We aim to ensure 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 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

Characteristics of a Writer

Throughout their time at Witton Gilbert, we hope all children will acquire the characteristics of an effective writer.

  • To show enjoyment and enthusiasm for writing
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • Acquire and use ambitious vocabulary in their own writing
  • Show an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • Can re-read, edit and improve their own writing
  • Display excellent transcription skills to ensure their writing is well-presented, punctuated, spelled correctly and neat
  • Have high standards of themselves and ensure they make every piece of writing in any subject the best that it can be

Phonics and Reading Intent

At Witton Gilbert Primary School, we aim for every child to learn to read quickly and continue to read – widely and often. We offer all children a rich and varied curriculum that includes reading for pleasure.

We teach Read Write Inc phonics, and through this, we ensure that pupils develop the skills and knowledge they need to develop as confident readers who have a love of books. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. The RWinc programme not only teaches early reading, it also develops comprehension and understanding of books and fosters a love of reading inside and outside the classroom.

We ensure that:

  • There is a sharp focus on ensuring that younger children gain the phonics knowledge and language comprehension necessary to read and spell
  • Reading is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum
  • A rigorous, sequential approach to the reading curriculum develops pupils’ fluency, confidence and enjoyment in reading
  • At all stages, reading attainment is assessed and gaps are addressed quickly and effectively for all pupils
  • At the early stages of learning to read, reading materials are closely matched to the learners’ phonic knowledge

Characteristics of a Reader

At Witton Gilbert, we aspire for all children to acquire the characteristics of a reader.

  • To read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • To be frequent and enthusiastic readers through the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • To acquire a wide vocabulary by accessing a wide range of texts
  • To appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • To confidently use discussion in order to learn by elaborating and explaining clearly their understanding and ideas of books and other reading
  • To share their love of reading with those around them
Intent Linked to our School Values
Childhood and Play


Through English, we want to provide first hand opportunities for children to learn through play where possible. We want the children to be active learners to encourage their creativity and imagination.
Respect for Ourselves and our Environment We choose texts that encourage children to respect themselves and our environment. Discussions are had around the texts and writing is inspired from this.
Equality and Diversity


Our school is committed to ensuring that all children will have access to an exciting, appropriate and inspiring curriculum that will support their progress and achievement.

Children will consider the contribution of people from different backgrounds to literature and all subjects through reading.

Perseverance and Resilience


Through editing and improving their work, children will learn that author’s must show resilience, perseverance and experience failure in order to succeed.
Collaboration and Cooperation Many English tasks and activities involve groups of children in collaboration. They must work together to read texts and have discussions about what they have read, make presentations, partake in drama activities around a text and share their work offering peer support and advice.


We teach English – both reading and writing – daily from Reception class to Year 6 and base the content of our curriculum on National Curriculum guidelines.


In order to support our developing writers, our English curriculum is carefully planned to allow children the maximum number of opportunities to practise and develop their writing skills. Our staff work to create high-quality and interesting lessons which follow the progression of skills document (National Curriculum or Early Learning Goals) in order to ensure writing skills are taught and maintained before moving children on to the next stage. Writing lessons are planned in conjunction with reading lessons to ensure a fully cohesive approach and to allow children a broad range of text experiences and examples to support their writing.

Early writing is supported using the systematic phonics teaching in Read Write Inc which also provides children with the opportunity to create their own words and developing sentences using words which contain the phonic sounds being taught. This also helps to support early spelling strategies. Children are encouraged to mark-make in a variety of indoor and outdoor areas and specific writing areas are set up to encourage independent writing.

Writing tasks are based on the class text or a recent experience, such as a school trip or visit, to provide children with a context and a purpose for their writing. This also allows children the opportunity to write and experiment with a range of different genres of writing. We also strive to encourage a process of redrafting, editing and improvement including the use of technology to do this effectively. We also recognise the importance of spelling and vocabulary in creating interesting and ambitious writers.

Each classroom also has a specific vocabulary display to support children in writing and to ensure children understand the importance of spelling non-negotiables correctly. A clear and effective writer also requires the development of fine motor skills and this is supported throughout the school through a consistent school handwriting scheme with regular teaching and practice sessions progressing to a joined and cursive style at the start of Key Stage 2. Once children have shown they are fluent and legible writers they move to writing in pen, normally in lower Key Stage 2. If children need further support, a regular intervention using the Speed-up Handwriting may be put in place to ensure all children work towards fluent, legible and eventually speedy writing.

Read Write Inc. Phonics

The programme is for:

  • Children in Reception to Year 2 who are learning to read and write (we continue RWinc into Year 3 in the autumn term

In Read Write Inc. Phonics children:

  • Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
  • Read common exception words on sight
  • Understand what they read
  • Read aloud with fluency and expression
  • Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
  • Acquire good handwriting.

We group children depending on their phonic knowledge, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This will ensure that they make the fastest progress possible as they are being taught the specific sounds that they need to learn in order to move to the next level. The children rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for children at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Children have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words.

We make sure that children read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Book Bag books will be sent home that match the book which they are reading in school. The children also have access to the Oxford Owl Website which has copies of e-books which they are reading in school in order for them to have another opportunity of reading each book to build fluency and confidence.

Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher support their increasingly fluent decoding. Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to children; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.

Throughout the whole school, we use a reading spine for UK Primary Schools based on ‘Reading Reconsidered’ by Doug Lemov. It is based on his ‘5 Plagues of Reading’ which he feels children should have access to throughout their school lives in order to better comprehend the more challenging texts expected of them in secondary school and beyond.

The 5 areas include:

1.) Archaic Texts
2.) Non-Linear Time Sequences
3.) Narratively Complex
4.) Complexity of Plot/Symbolic
5.) Resistant Texts

Cultural Capital in English

Cultural Capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, skills and experiences that gives us the confidence to be able to talk, communicate, progress and take a full part in our community and wider world.  At Witton Gilbert Primary school, we promote equality through our commitment to developing cultural capital for all our children.

In English, children will be exposed to a mix of traditional, classic and modern stories to expose children to a variety of cultures. In addition, they will learn about a range of famous authors (local and from afar) and their works such as, David Almond, Louis Sacher, Mini Grey and Onjali Rauf. We also read biographies and auto biographies of inspirational people throughout history that have evoked positives changes.

During their time at Witton Gilbert Primary School, they will also experience.

  • Meeting and talking to authors as well as online
  • Visits to the local library
  • Visits to the theatre
  • Local nature walks
  • Workshops with English specialists
  • Various different trips to give the children life experiences to inspire writing
  • Have access to a wide range of literature linked to our topics e.g. through Durham Learning Resources
  • Celebrations of World Book Day
  • Access to texts across all curriculum subjects


Assessing and tracking progress phonics and reading

Throughout the teaching sequence, teacher assessment is used to identify pupils who are not grasping 75-80% of new learning. These pupils are targeted for rapid intervention. In Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, pupils are assessed at least half-termly on the phonics progress they are making and the groups are adjusted accordingly. We use the RWInc Phonic Tracker from Reception to Year 2 to support our analysis of individual pupil’s progress.

We assess all children following Read Write Inc. Phonics using the Entry Assessment. This gives us a very good indication of how well they are making progress relative to their starting points. We do this for all children, whenever they join us, so we can track all of them effectively.

We record their starting date on the programme and entry point on the tracker to monitor the rate at which they are making progress. We can also easily identify those who joined the programme later.

We aim for the majority of children to complete the programme by the end of the Autumn Term in Year 2.  As pupils begin to learn to read more fluently, they move to banded books and their progress through the bands is carefully tracked and analysed.

National Phonics Screening

All Y1 pupils sit a national phonics screening check which is carried out in June each year. Pupils who do not attain the national standard will repeat the screening in Year 2. This is to ensure that pupils have secured a secure foundation on which to build their reading skills.


The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills.  With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.

As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.

We hope that as children move on from Witton Gilbert to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.

The impact of the school’s curriculum can be seen in the books they produce and the outcomes for all groups of pupils within the school. Everything we do is with the child at mind, and strong relationships are built between pupils and staff which create an atmosphere for learning which is conducive to success.

Pupils’ progress is measured through ongoing assessment and through three key assessment points during the year. Work is planned to address misconceptions and gaps in learning are identified to ensure that the curriculum effectively meets the needs of all pupils.