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 word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

The Intent

A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, and others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society.

Many children at SHH begin school in EYFS or as new arrivals with a limited range of vocabulary and confidence to express themselves. It is for this reason that speech, language and communication skills are a priority for all children and Oracy is our key curriculum driver.

Children are taught topic vocabulary and language structures to think it, say it and write it. We aim to enrich and accelerate language acquisition and development through our English Curriculum which covers reading and writing, speaking and listening.

Our aim is for pupils to have a secure command of spoken and written language skills in order to effectively express their thoughts, opinions, ideas and feelings developing confidence in their use of standard English.

Reading enriches knowledge and understanding of English language as well as developing comprehension skills.

Our curriculum promotes:

  • Reading for pleasure and information so that children broaden their horizons and understanding of the world through books.
  • Planned development of tier 1,2 and 3 vocabulary with structured progression in language development for storytelling, explanations, comparative and persuasive language using THEP Language Structure
  • Well-structured writing opportunities in using a range of genres which progressively develop across the curriculum from 3-11yrs.  
  • The ability to write coherently using increasing depth of subject knowledge across the curriculum  
  • Teaching the skill set for children to reflect on and improve their work using editing and proof reading skills.
  • Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.



Stories and reading are central to the curriculum at Stewart Headlam. The half termly topics from Nursery to Year 6 are based around a book or story which are linked to the topic themes. It helps children to explore the topic themes, concepts and genres whilst developing language and reading skills.  It means that the children developmentally explore at least 48 age related class texts across a range of subjects, themes and genres. They progressively develop reading and comprehension skills to ensure children enjoy being read to, reading for information and pleasure.

The youngest children in nursery and reception use the helicopter stories strategy to learn and rehearse story-telling skills. Older children are encouraged to recall and rehearse sentences for storytelling and writing through their planning for writing strategies.  Being able to retell a simple story and build on it is an important skill.

We know from research and school data that children who read for pleasure make faster rates of progress and potentially have improved life chances, not just in education but personally, socially and emotionally. This supports mental health and well-being. We actively aim for all children to be reading by six.  

Transference of skills

At SHH, we emphasise the transference of oracy and reading and writing skills across the wider curriculum.


Oracy is a key driver in all of our learning. We place emphasis on children having a rich and wide ranging vocabulary, being confident and articulate in speaking, and communicating in a variety of ways. Our ‘Speak Up’ campaign enables children to use their voice to convey their learning and to ensure they have command of the English language in its standard form. Everyone is encouraged to talk in sentences, to use good word choices and to be able to talk about their learning.

Teachers plan opportunities for oracy in lessons across the curriculum and ensure children get opportunities to present their skills through debating, show and tell, class assemblies and talk time.

All adults in the school are required to provide good models of English with the children at all times. Children are expected to respond in full sentences and are provided with language structures in each year group with which to develop these skills.

Children are expected to use high quality reading and writing skills in subjects outside of the core subjects. Teachers plan activities within subjects such as Topic, RE, Science and Computing for children to showcase their English skills, particularly writing.


At SHH federation, we want to instil a love for reading in our pupils so that they want to lose themselves in the world of books.

Guided Reading (KS1)

Children are taught the skills required to read during guided reading. These are focused sessions led by an adult in which children are taught in groups based on their reading levels. The main purpose of guided reading is for children to read a variety of texts at instructional level, applying phonics skills and word recognition.

In class the children in KS1 also have access to hard copy Bug Club and Bug club phonics books which they use for in school reading. All children across the federation have access to either Bug club or Accelerated Reader for supplementary reading and can be accessed at home.

Whole Class Reading

Every year group from Years 2 to 6 has whole class reading sessions. In these sessions children read high quality books, which have been carefully selected to help challenge all the children; make them critical thinkers and continue to develop their love for reading. Teachers plan these sessions to ensure that students have ample opportunities to explore themes and vocabulary; develop their comprehension skills (both oral and written) and improve their stamina so that they are able to read texts and answer questions under time constraints.

In addition to this, children have access to a range of books to read for pleasure both in the classroom and at home. Children also have the opportunity to read across a range of subjects through the thematic curriculum. Children from years 1- 6 will continue to participate in the SHH Reading Challenge, which allows children to read more widely.


In the Foundation Stage there are lots of mark making and writing opportunities in all the activities we explore both inside and outside. Children practice their phonics and high frequency words so that they can be even better at reading the Tower Hamlets Unit Plans thinking about the purpose for writing and our audiences. Children’s writing is developed through exposure to high quality texts as models of what makes good writing. Children learn to write using a range of genres within non-fiction, fiction and poetry. We provide regular opportunities for children to write independently and across a range of subjects through the thematic curriculum. Children from years 1 to year 6 have spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) sessions in addition to an hour of English. We provide children with the opportunity to edit their work at the end of each unit as this is an important part of the writing process and enables children to produce a piece of work that they are proud of.


At Stewart Headlam we teach THEP Letters and Sounds synthetic phonics from Nursery to Year 2. Our aim is to develop the children’s phonological awareness, ability to segment and blend words and read tricky words on sight. is taught daily for 20 minutes.

To supplement the phonics programme, we use Bug Club phonics. This is an online platform where we allocate instructional level phonics books for children to read at home. The bug Club books match the THEP phonics programme phases.

Children are encouraged to independently read decodable books related to their phonics knowledge in school and at home. The investment in families and children accessing interactive Bug Club online and home reading books is developing early reading skills to assist in the development of blending and segmenting.  Children also choose story and information books to enjoy reading with adults and talk about.  Daily reading and story-times for all year groups are a priority.

Catch-up for reading

We are introducing the National Tuition Programme EEF Lightening Squad to improve reading fluency and decoding skills for children in years 2 – 5 across the lowest 40% of readers. We know from analysis of our reading data that better readers tend to read more in their own time. Having previously trialled reading for fluency research strategies in upper KS2 we are trialling EEF Lightning Squad which is based on reading recovery strategies to target our disadvantaged, least confident and lowest achieving readers to support their reading for fluency and secure their phonics and decoding strategies.  The intervention strategy across Years 2 – 5 is designed to accelerate progress and most importantly boost reading confidence and self-esteem.

Any phonics interventions are provided outside the whole class phonics session led by teachers and trained teaching assistants. We know that teacher led phonics interventions have the biggest impact. We work closely with the Tower Hamlets consultant to ensure that the teaching of phonics is of a consistently high standard.


As children develop correct letter formation with exit joins they are encouraged to start joined writing for a neat fluent style.

Resources used for English

  • THEP English Units of Work
  • Focus English units of work
  • THEP letters and Sounds
  • Bug Club and Bug Club Phonics
  • Reading Challenge