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English and Phonics at Heston Primary School

National Curriculum

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy 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.

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

Phonics Programme and Progress

Our phonics teaching is based upon the revised Letters and Sounds programme - Little Wandle. The programme is comprehensive in structure and teaches children to decode fluently, read with prosody, and develop comprehension skills. The children are taught Foundation phonics which begins in Nursery and once they are in Reception they are taught phases 2, 3, and 4. Once they are in Year 1 they are taught phase 5.   

Reception overview:

Autumn term: Phase 2

Spring term: Phase 3

Summer term: Phase 4 (no new phonemes are taught)

By the end of the Summer term in Reception, in phase 4 the children will be able to read CCVC, CVCC, and longer words.

Year 1 overview:

Autumn 1:  Weeks 1, 2, and 3 - consolidate Phases 3 and 4

Autumn 1:  Week 4 - begin Phase 5

Spring Term: Phase 5

Summer Term: Phase 5 consolidation in preparation for the Phonics Screening Check.

Year 2 overview:

In Year 2, once the children are fluent readers and have consolidated phase 5, begin Spelling Shed which is a complete spelling scheme that supports their knowledge, skills, and understanding of the Year 2 spelling rules. 

Phonics from the Start

Phonics begins in Nursery with Phase 1 and transcends into Reception through to phases 2-4. In Nursery, children are taught to differentiate between sounds, starting with environmental sounds and progressing to sounds in words, including identifying the initial sounds in words. The children are taught to recognise grapheme and phoneme correspondences and encouraged to use pure sounds when pronouncing them in line with Little Wandles.

Books Matched to Phonic Knowledge

Reading practice sessions are taught on a weekly basis in Reception and KS1. We use fully decodable books from the Big Cat Collins series that are carefully matched to each Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phase.

These books are used in reading practice sessions three times weekly. The children are taught to decode, read with prosody and how to comprehend using the same book throughout the week so that they develop reading fluency. The decodable book is then sent home at 90% instructional and the children are encouraged to read the book independently to a grown-up. 

Each reading practice session begins with a ‘revisit and review’. This enables the children to bring the GPCs they have learned to the forefront of their memory. This will make it easier for them to automatically recall the words and set them up to succeed when they read the book. In the session, there are opportunities to:
• revise the graphemes the children should already know
• practice fluently reading three or four words from the book, applying their
phonic knowledge
• revise the tricky words that appear in the book
• Teach the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.

During the reading practice session when the children are reading independently, the teacher or teaching assistant moves round the group, ‘tapping in’  and listening to each child read for two or three pages, depending on the length of the text. The use of echo reading means that all the children are taught to read at the same pace allowing the teacher to listen to individual children read whilst the rest of the group maintains a reading pace. 

English Aims

We aim for children to become fluent, skilful and confident in their use and understanding of both written and spoken English. We enable learners to express their ideas in well-structured sentences, utilising a wide vocabulary and demonstrating secure understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar rules. Our learners are able to use a high standard of both written and spoken English to communicate their ideas, opinions and emotions. Heston Primary School children use language to describe, justify, debate and persuade, utilising appropriate language techniques and structures. Additionally, we aim for our learners to become skilled readers and listeners, who are able to understand and critically analyse the ideas of others. Our reading curriculum aspires to provide children with opportunities for cultural, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development, whilst promoting a love for reading.

Our English Curriculum

Our English curriculum is underpinned by the National Curriculum. In addition to this, we use and adapt the reading VIPERS and Talk 4 Writing to inform our cohesive and aspirational English curriculum. Our curriculum supports children so that they are able to acquire the skills of language which are essential to participate fully as an active member of society. We recognise the key role that Literature plays in the personal development of our children. As such, we have carefully selected key texts which invite conversations around challenging emotions, social and ethical issues and comparison of different cultures, whilst simultaneously promoting intellectual development.

Reading is Fundamental

Reading is school priority and at Heston we recognise that it is a skill that gives children access to the rest of the curriculum and to life-long learning. The SSP programme developed by Chesterton English Hub ‘Little Wandle’ is delivered in multiple daily sessions to children in EY/Reception and KS1. Children in KS2 who have not passed the phonics screening check continue to receive phonics intervention in KS2.

Children have daily whole class reading sessions in KS2 with VIPERS being applied as the main structure for questions. The school has a progression document which details how questioning in each domain becomes more sophisticated.

Love of Reading

This is promoted by ensuring that children have access to high quality books and texts. Staff represent a love of reading through visual displays, engaging book reading corners and high quality core texts that our English teaching is centred around. In Early Years, labelling throughout the setting is colour-coded with green words matching existing phonic knowledge, orange representing challenging words and black indicating that they may need help from an adult. This empowers students to read and interpret environmental text. Learners who experience challenges in reading are identified quickly, and targeted interventions are put into place rapidly to ensure children do not fall behind. Additionally, we make books (including instruction books) matched to students reading levels that link to activities within other areas of learning. In this way, reading is at the heart of our planning and provision. We have an inviting school library which children enjoy perusing, and ensure that the range of books on offer represent the diversity of cultures and interests found within our school  and wider community.


Catch Up Quickly

Keep-Up Sessions:

The Little Wandle Keep-up programme is designed to help children in Reception and Year 1 who are at risk of falling behind their peers. They are supported in one-to-one sessions or group keep-up sessions for 5-10 minutes on a daily basis. The children are assessed on a three-weekly basis to ascertain progress and highlight any further gaps that need addressing. 


Children who have SEND or require adaptations and a slower pace of teaching are taught through the Little Wandle SEND programme. Adaptations to pace include the children covering one to three new GPCs instead of four. Adaptations to resources include the use of sensory or large grapheme cards with a large print. The children are assessed every five weeks to assess progress and identify the individual or group keep-up needed for each child.

Rapid Catch-Up:

The Little Wandle Rapid catch-up programme is designed for children in Year 2 and above who are not meeting age-related expectations in reading. It is designed to help children catch up rapidly and covers the Little Wandle progression at a faster pace.

Early Reading Experts

Teaching staff have had high quality phonics training led by Little Wandle experts to ensure that phonics teaching is precise and of a good standard. Staff are able to teach daily phonic and reading practice sessions to develop early reading. 

For more information about our English Curriculum, please contact the school office; we will provide you with our subject matrices and knowledge organisers for this area. Other details around our curriculum activities and offer, can be accessed by parents/carers on HestonLink (school's online learning platform).

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