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What English looks like at St John’s



At St John’s Primary School, we promote a love for reading and equip our children with the skills they need to become passionate and independent readers. 


How Reading is Taught


All of our Key Stage 1 children have access to a variety of books and read twice per week, once with their Class Teacher and the other with a Teaching Assistant. These one-to-one sessions enable teachers to develop pupils’ decoding skills, so they have a bank of strategies at their disposal, if they encounter unfamiliar words. In addition, guided reading sessions are carried out once per week and these focus heavily on comprehension. These sessions also give children the chance to enjoy and discuss texts with their friends.


In Key Stage 2, when basic reading skills have been firmly established, children read more regularly in groups and continue to work on their mastery of skills, such as vocabulary development, prediction, summarising, justifying with evidence and inference. Below is a typical example of the types of questions Key Stage 2 pupils are asked to complete during a 'BOOK CLUB' session:


Reading Books


We follow a national banding system for reading books, and as the children’s confidence grows, they move up a coloured band. Different reading schemes have different features and different strengths; and as result, we provide opportunities for pupils to read a variety of genres from a range of reading schemes, some of which have been listed below:


  • Oxford Reading Tree
  • Rigby Star
  • Big Cat Collins
  • Treetops
  • Engage Literacy


When children enter Key Stage 2, we also encourage them to supplement their coloured banded book with a ‘free read.’ In doing so, they are able to pursue their own interests and are encouraged to read for pleasure.

Book Banding System Overview

Reading for Pleasure


Every classroom has an exciting and engaging reading corner designed to promote a love of reading. Children have access to a variety of genres and can use their reading area at different times throughout the day. Reading for pleasure is also promoted through daily story time, which offers children the chance to experience different authors and simply immerse themselves in language.





In addition to the methods already mentioned, reading is taught through rigorous and systematic phonics. At St John’s, sessions are lively, interactive and have been tailor-made for our pupils using methods from different programmes including ‘Letters and Sounds’ and ‘Sounds Write.’ Children work through six phases and start as soon as they begin their learning journey in Reception.

It is expected that children will move up to Key Stage 2 working securely at Phase 5 or beyond. Pupils continue to learn spelling rules and patterns even as they move through the juniors.



At St John’s, basic writing skills are initially taught through a play-based curriculum in the Foundation Stage setting. When these are in place, they start to take part in hour-long writing lessons using ‘The Write Stuff’ approach, and are taught to write through three ‘zones’ known as the Fantastics, Boomtastics and Grammaristics.


The Fantastics: These nine lenses encourage children to use their senses e.g. What does the setting look like? What can the central character hear? What emotions does he/she feel?


The Boomtastics: This zone supports children to include literary devices such as alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia and personification, amongst others. Essentially, they help improve children’s creative flare and assist them in developing their own personal writing style.


The Grammaristics: A huge emphasis within the English curriculum is based around grammar, spelling and punctuation. The ‘Grammaristics’ encourage children to apply the grammatical procedures they are taught to their writing, so that it makes sense and includes a range of sentence structures.

The Fantastics, Boomtastics and Grammaristics

During each writing lesson, children typically work through three ‘learning chunks,’ where various sentence types are modelled and they are challenged to edit them through the three zones of writing. Short video animations are sometimes used as hooks for writing, as well as a selection of highly stimulating books e.g.


  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
  • Peace at Last by Jill Murphy
  • Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp by Phillip Pullman
  • The Lost Happy Endings by Carol Ann Duffy and Jane Ray
  • Charlie’s Superhero Underpants by Paul Bright


…plus many, many, many more!!

Useful websites:

Useful apps:


  • Pocket Phonics
  • Kids ABC Phonics
  • Phonics Genius
  • Squeebles
  • Spelling tic, tac, toe

How to support your child's Literacy development at home!


Reading, Reading, Reading!


Time and time again, research shows that learning to read – and to love to read – is directly linked to children’s academic success and happiness. To support your child, read to and with them often.


The bedtime story is all too often cast aside in our increasingly busy, technology-driven world. However, it remains fundamental in supporting our children’s language development. The more a child reads, the larger their vocabulary becomes, and although e-books can be another lovely way to share a story or non-fiction book together, they should be balanced with reading hard copies so that children experience different skills required for reading from a page and reading from a screen.


You may also notice that your child has certain ‘go to’ books that they just love to hear again and again. If this is the case, embrace it! Hearing favourite stories read aloud helps children become aware of the pattern and rhythm of text. Teaching nursery rhymes and songs also helps with this.


In addition to reading aloud yourself, you can support your child by listening to them read their coloured banded books from school. This will help build their confidence and is an opportunity for you to reinforce the skills they are being taught in school.


We strongly advise that all children read for a minimum of twenty minutes each night and request that parents sign their children’s reading records. As children enter Key Stage 2 and become more independent, they may wish to comment and sign themselves.

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