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Aston & Cote

Church of England

Primary School




‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’ 

Phillip Pullman 


Not only is English our national language and a core subject in the curriculum, it is also the means by which we think, dream, imagine, invent, explore, create and communicate our thoughts and character with the wider world. 




Our approach to teaching English is called ‘Text-Based Teaching’ because children learn the best language and communication skills by internalising the very best models on offer in speech and writing. In our school, we carefully select high quality texts that not only tell a wonderful story, but which do so by playing with adventurous vocabulary and sentence structures. We are therefore able to work holistically and to discuss and replicate the examples offered by the very best writers and authors. We also use our texts to teach spelling, grammar, punctuation, author voice, genre features, structure, turns of phrase, levels of formality, creative thinking, playfulness and imagination. A good book is a veritable treasure trove and we treasure them in return. Our texts also enhance, inspire and enable our Topic work wherever possible whilst avoiding tenuous links. 


Using our class text as a stimulus, all teachers plan writing sequences using an agreed whole-school approach, covering a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction. 


Typically, each unit across the school starts with a ‘hook’ to engage the children which also gives them an audience and purpose for their piece of writing. A ‘hook’ could be something simple such as the class receiving a letter from someone or it could be more adventurous, such as monster footprints appearing on the playground. 


After that, the children play vocabulary games and explore adventurous language that could be appropriate for their genre. This aims to challenge and encourage the children to use synonyms or new words that they may not have come across before. 


Once this stage is complete, the children explore a ‘model text’ together. This is an example of the genre the class are focussing on which encompasses all the features the children will need to include to be successful.   

Then, the children are taught the discrete skills they are needed to write effectively in this genre. This might be how to use subordination to add more detail or it might be how to use personification in a poem. 


Once the children have learnt all of the ‘ingredients’ they need to produce a piece of writing, they then have the opportunity to plan their own piece of writing, draft it with modelling and support from the teacher, edit it and finally publish it for display. In working in this way, all children get to experience working through the ‘writerly’ process of generating an idea to seeing it through to the final stages. 




We use a ‘Cursive’ system for handwriting called ‘Letter Join’. We do this to ensure a uniform approach to letter formation, leading to a more effective, fluent and legible joined style. 


Cursive handwriting enables children to write with increased flow, allowing them to concentrate on the content of their work and correct spelling. Each letter starts on the line, so the pen flows and does not leave the page during a word. 


We aim to teach the children this system when they are ready and support their development throughout the different stages of school. Once good practice is established, we will encourage children to develop their individual style. Teachers and support staff will consistently model cursive handwriting in lessons to ensure that this becomes an automatic habit. 


In Year One, the pupils will be introduced to a non-joined cursive formation in order to prepare the children for joined cursive writing alongside their phonic development. The children need to have clear recognition of letters in order to make their phonic links for reading and independent writing.  


 Right from the Early Years, we focus on ensuring children are well prepared to write. We are careful to establish whether they have strength in their hands (many are still developing fine motor skills), an effective and correct pencil grip and a good level of confidence for writing. This continues throughout the school for those children who still need support in this area. 



In Key Stage Two children benefit from knowing that each letter starts in the same place (on the line) and enjoying the flow of their pen, as it never leaves the paper mid-word! At this point, the children will be given a handwriting pen. 





At Aston and Cote we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their English. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in learning to both read and write. 


Using RWI, the children learn to decode effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also supports children to spell so that they can concentrate on developing their composition skills. 


We use Read, Write, Inc. as our core phonics and  reading scheme throughout Key Stage One and as an intervention programme for struggling readers in Key Stage 2. Training by nationally recognised instructors has ensured that our teachers and TAs are equipped to deliver this highly effective programme. 


We carry out a simple assessment and children are then placed in ability groups. Our groups are small and aid pupils in making excellent progress. 


“Staff are well trained in delivering the systematic phonics 
programme. This enables younger pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), to become confident and fluent readers.” OFSTED 2023


When using RWI to read the children will: 


-learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts 
-learn to read words using Fred Talk 
-read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out 
-show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions. 


When using RWI to write the children will: 

-learn to write the letters/letter groups which represent 44 sounds. 
-learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk 
-write simple sentences 
-compose stories based on picture strips 
-compose a range of stories based on writing frames. 
-Below is a link to a video clip which shows the programme in action and explains everything, especially ‘Fred talk’! 



“ A book is a gift you can open again and again.” (Garrison Keillor) 


At Aston and Cote CE Primary books are at the heart of our curriculum. We are passionate about fostering a love of reading. Our aim is for every child to not only acquire the essential basic reading skills, but to become a life- long reader.  


“Pupils develop a deep love of reading because staff provide engaging learning opportunities.” OFSTED 2023 


We expect our children to read in every lesson, we timetable ‘Reading for Pleasure’ throughout the week and we require children to read at home daily. Reading journals are used in some of our younger year groups and, in Key Stage 2, children use reading journals to document their reading journeys which they can then share with their buddies during regular meeting sessions. These journals serve as peer reviews and as a discussion point with the whole class.  


Celebrating Book Week or World Book Day is a very popular annual event during which teachers use a book as inspiration to plan a whole range of activities in all areas of the curriculum. 


We also hold a Book Fair each year and have recently introduced a Book Swap – children can bring a book which they no longer want to school and swap it for a book which has been brought in by someone else. We have a weekly collective worship focussed on a book that focusses on a key event around the world and allow children to borrow these books from our ‘sharing shelf’ afterwards. 


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” Dr Seuss 


Whole-class reading sessions take part in every class, every morning which focus on the class text for the term ( which is also used for writing.) Across the school, all staff use the ‘VIPERs’ (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explain, Retrive and summarise/sequence) acronym to make sure that daily lessons are planned to cover a rage of question types and allow children opportunities to approach their reflections on a text in a variety of ways, either written or verbal. We start this approach from year two after the children have left the RWI programme, once they are confident readers 


We also offer a plethora of enrichment opportunities in the subject such as: poetry and writing workshops with visiting authors, book week/World Book Day celebrations, termly themed author focus in our library as well as master classes at Henry Box and competitions such as BBC Radio Two’s 500 words and our own in-house writing competitions. 



To find out more about our curriculum click on the links below.