Our English overview

We believe in the importance of using quality texts to support the teaching of reading and writing at Ark Blacklands. Our English overview for 2018/19 can be seen here:

PDF iconBlacklands English Overview.pdf


Learning to read

Ark Blacklands has been awarded Read Write Inc Model School Status for a second year - October 2018!

We teach pupils to read through Read Write Inc. Phonics. Pupils will be part of the phonics programme until they are confident readers; reading around 140 words per minute and have a reading age of seven.

Read Write Inc. Phonics is for four to seven-year-old children learning to read and write, and for seven and eight-year-olds that need to catch up.

It is a complete literacy programme taught for 40 minutes a day in Reception and an hour a day in year 1 and above. It is proven to develop:

  • fluent, enthusiastic readers
  • deep comprehension of texts
  • confident speakers
  • keen writers

Young readers develop at different rates and the ability of readers in a class can vary. Therefore we set our pupils by ability for these sessions. Regular assessment allows us to track our pupils' attainment and so our phonics groups are regularly reviewed and changed. We aim to ensure 100% of pupils pass the year one phonics screening check.

Guided reading helps support reading further and allows for ongoing assessment opportunities. Once pupils are confident readers they will progress from Read, Write Inc to Talk for Writing.

Eleven year-old children who read, write and speak to a very high standard love school, love learning and are likely to achieve extremely well at secondary school. Talk for Writing gives teachers the tools to make this happen for every child. It is a complete literacy programme rooted in the new national curriculum for children in years 1 – 6 who can decode fluently. It develops children’s comprehension, vocabulary, writing, critical thinking and discussion skills and provides teachers with explicit guidance in how to teach grammar – in a fun and meaningful way.

Children learn what it is to be a real reader and to truly engage in the world of books.

They will have the opportunity to:

  • enjoy powerful complete stories, poems and plays by authors both teachers and children love
  • learn how to get to the heart of a story or the nub of a non-fiction text
  • learn to identify themes and ask universal questions.

Talk for Writing children write confidently and enthusiastically, because they have something to say. And they love reading at home – the biggest indicator of success.


Reading at home

Pupils need to read a wide variety of texts often. We therefore send reading books home every night and ensure that these are checked and changed weekly. Our reading records allow parents to share comments and thoughts with the class teacher.


Learning to write

Pupils start mark making from an early age and our Early Years develop the gross and fine motor skills needed for pen control. We have a number of exercises and activities that pupils take part in to develop their ability to write.

In Reception and Key Stage One pupils learn letter formation alongside letter sounds through the Read, Write Inc programme and start forming words and short sentences by the age of five. In Key Stage Two pupils are expected to produce extended pieces of writing which are marked with detailed targets for improvement.

Writing is covered through the Read, Write Inc and Talk for Writing programmes however we supplement these sessions to give pupils greater confidence in their writing.

Handwriting: All pupils receive at least 30 minutes of handwriting practise every day. Our expectation is for pupils to have fluent, legible and neat handwriting before they enter Key Stage 1. We then work on developing style and fluency. Children can earn their pen license once they can demonstrate accuracy in letter formation.


Speaking and listening

At Ark 'speaking and listening', 'reading' and 'writing' are integrated.

In English, during Key Stage One, pupils learn to speak confidently and listen to what others have to say. They use language to explore their own experiences and imaginary worlds.

During Key Stage One pupils learn to speak clearly, thinking about the needs of their listeners. They work with partners, in small groups and as a class, joining in discussions and making relevant points. They also learn how to listen carefully to what other people are saying, so that they can remember the main points. They learn to use language in imaginative ways and express their ideas and feelings when working in role and in drama activities.

In Key Stage Two pupils learn how to speak in a range of contexts, adapting what they say and how they say it to the purpose and the audience. Taking varied roles in groups gives them opportunities to contribute to situations with different demands. They also learn to respond appropriately to others, thinking about what has been said and the language used.


KS1 Spelling Cafe

KS1 teachers held a Spelling Cafe in the Hall after school in January. Lots of activities and ideas were shared and parents and children had fun practicing spellings in lots of different ways. 

Information shared can be found here:

FileSpelling Cafe handout.docx

FilePlaydough Recipe.docx