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Learning at the speed of life

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At Pirbright Village Primary School we recognise that English unites the important skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  We recognise these as life skills, which enable us to make sense of the world. We aim for all children to become confident communicators as well as critical readers and writers with a capacity to express themselves through a variety of different literary activities.

The BIG Read 2023-2024 Dates



Pirbright Village Primary School is determined that every child will learn to read, regardless of background, needs or abilities. We want our children to be fluent, confident readers. They will be exposed to a wealth of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction to develop their vocabulary, language comprehension and engender a genuine love of reading and a keen interest in a range of texts. We work to inspire them to become life-long readers who enjoy books and have a desire to read for pleasure. In order for the children to have the will to read, and be able to read to learn, they need to have secure skills in reading so that they can read with fluency and comprehension.


Reading is at the heart of our whole curriculum underpinning every subject area. We want every child to read widely, and to gain a rich knowledge across the curriculum. By offering a wide range of texts we aim to broaden their minds and experiences to allow them to empathise with the world in which they live and support the development of their cultural capital. Reading is such an important life skill that it is imperative we enable them to become independent readers who can easily process information, fully engage in all learning and be well prepared for their next stage of their education.


Phonics and Early Reading

We teach early reading through the systematic, synthetic phonics programme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. Right from the start of Reception children have a daily phonics lesson which follows the progression for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds and this continues in Year One to ensure children become fluent readers. We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:

· Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.

· Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


The phonic programme meets expectations of the National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals with clearly defined expectations set out term by term. The phonic progression identifies the grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and tricky words taught every week.


All of our early reading books are aligned to Little Wandle Letters and Sounds and are fully decodable, following the progression in our phonic programme. When selecting a book for a child to read, we ensure that it is carefully matched to the letter-sound correspondences they have learnt, so they can confidently, and effectively, apply their phonic knowledge. Children continue to be taught phonics until they become fluent readers. Phonics is the way we teach decoding skills, in order to give children the most efficient method to

read words and one which will set them up for life. In the phonics sessions and throughout the day, children have opportunities to practise applying their phonic skills and to read words with the new grapheme, phoneme correspondence. This enables the learning to be committed to their long-term memory.


In EYFS and Year 1 there are regular reading practice sessions each week. In these sessions we teach the application of reading skills. The children read in groups with fully decodable books, carefully matched to the children’s phonic ability. Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

· decoding

· prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression

· comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.


Each reading practice session will begin with a pacey review of graphemes, tricky words and practice of fluent reading of words which will appear in the book. The children will already know these from their phonic lesson, but the review will enable them to have these sounds and words at the forefront of their working memory. In the comprehension session the teacher will focus on a particular domain. There will be a common theme in each reading practice session of developing fluency. The children will read the same book in each of their sessions. They will then take home the book they have read at school after each reading session to practise reading fluently.


To further foster a love of reading, once children have a secure knowledge of the phonic code, they will have the opportunity to read a range of different books matched to their ability.


Further Reading 

Inspiring a life-long love of reading is key and children will still need support, even in Year 6, to make good choices and read quality literature. The school has a Reading Challenge which gives guidance to those children who will still benefit from structure in their reading choices. Regular reading for these children allows the adults in school to monitor their reading choices and ensure they are experiencing a degree of challenge to keep them motivated, but also allowing them to choose books which encourage practise and rehearsal of key reading skills so they become embedded.


Whole class guided reading provides a key element of reading instruction for children who have progressed from Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. Books chosen are specific to each class and in this way, often change year on year. They are challenging in vocabulary and provide a rich opportunity for whole class discussion and a deep exploration of the text. Sometimes the texts are an extension of the topic being studied in the year group, if this meets the needs of the children, but are equally likely to be a text chosen for impact on the specific learners in the class and may be a little more “stand alone”. The school makes good use of VIPERS as a construct to analyse text and this is progressive in expected outcomes as children move through to Year 6.


Children who need some additional support to keep up with the reading in class will be targeted through intervention. Class teachers work with Learning Support Assistants to diagnose areas of need and then set intervention targets for small group instruction. Learning Support Assistants work with children which allows them to further practise their skills and refine their technique. These intervention groups provide data and feedback to teachers on a half-termly basis so they can be monitored for impact and adjusted as required.


Hearing children read on a regular basis at home will help them progress quickly with their reading and your support is so important with this. Children may be able to read aloud fluently but alongside this is the comprehension aspects, which need to be monitored and are just as important. Class teachers will always be on hand to support parents with reading at home and regularly send out guides in year groups about how to hear your child read. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or support.


Teachers share their own love of reading with children at all available opportunities through class readers, encouraging parents to come to The Big Reads and by promoting the annual book fair with class wish lists. Class reading corners are well-stocked and the library has recently been renovated. Some children may even receive a special library pass for bonus reading sessions! Keen librarians ensure the library is always open and there is always a place for children to come and read at break and lunchtimes. At various points over the term, Story Time in The Library is held where adults read to any keen listeners during a lunchtime. Mystery Readers excite children throughout the day and involve parents/grandparents coming in at the end of the school day to share a story with children - it's always fun to guess who is coming in. Learning Champions for reading ensure good peer support for reading and the older children love helping the younger children by hearing them read, chatting all things books and supporting them to develop their skills. The school has a much beloved reading dog, Blodyn, who we are looking to welcome back after she had to take a break for health reasons.



We see writing as an integral part of the whole curriculum and are always looking for real-life writing opportunities to inspire the children and get them putting pen to paper. Activities, including first hand experiences, in all areas of the curriculum provide starting points for a wide variety of writing. In the Early Years Foundation Stage the child’s first marks on paper (emergent writing) are valued as an essential stage in the development of writing. Children explore and extend their writing skills through a variety of role play situations (e.g. writing signs and labels for the garden centre/invitations to a teddy bear’s picnic). They have free access to writing areas.


The KS1 Playground is the home of the school's Writing Shed which is a little den of activity for the children to freely choose writing experiences to encourage a love of English. The children in Reception and Year 1 use this as part of their continuous provision with access for the whole key stage at break and lunchtimes as they require it. 


As children become more confident in their writing ability as they progress through the school, we encourage them to be aware of their audience through highlighting the purpose of writing and providing opportunities for children’s work to be published. We allow time for children to evaluate their work and share it with others, encouraging constructive criticism and comment. Carefully planned for writing opportunities are provided in English lessons and across the curriculum. These are mostly linked to rich texts studied in each year group during lessons but also to other areas of study, such as history and science, where children can apply the skills they have learnt in lessons. 


Every year group has a writing Wish List which is aspirational and builds upon the objectives in the National Curriculum, alongside the elements of writing that we see as key here at Pirbright. Children can refer to these Wish Lists when editing their work to ensure they are being challenged to be the best writers they can. 


Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

Fundamental to good writing, is confidence in spelling, punctuation and grammar which has been high on the school’s agenda for a number of years now. Beginning with our youngest children, we start teaching the building blocks for word building, sentence construction and text organisation to ensure writing is of the highest quality. We take a multi-sensory approach to spelling as children learn to spell using different strategies. Whilst we recognise the teaching of a systematic synthetic approach to phonics is successful with most children, we also recognise the need to use different strategies with children who do not learn spellings phonetically.  We therefore encourage the development of visual memory, kinaesthetic methods, picture cues as well as focusing on the structure of words and letter patterns. 


Children in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 receive weekly spelling lists to take home and learn. These will be a combination of high-frequency words, words they should be able to spell and words which follow a particular rule which is taught in class. Children also have a degree of personalised spellings where they select words from their English books which have been misspelt previously or find new words which would challenge them in Key Stage 2. Children are encouraged to use their weekly words in their English book and when tested, the words are always put into context. Children who struggle to access the class spellings are given individual lists and tested on an individual basis to ensure they are working at an appropriate level.


Punctuation and grammar is taught through English lessons and ensures that children are seeing the different rules of language in context where they can then apply this to their daily writing. Becoming literate with the language of grammar is just as important and allows for dialogue in the classroom to be of the highest quality. Children are encouraged to use technical vocabulary to explain words and sentences; this allows them to identify the rules of grammar in order to make choices about which techniques to employ in their independent writing.


Speaking & Listening

We value the oral language which children bring with them to school and we foster and develop this by encouraging them to speak confidently and teaching them to actively listen to others. Speaking and listening activities, including drama, are planned for specifically within each English unit as well as within other subjects across the curriculum.



During the Early Years Foundation Stage and Year 1 children are taught the correct letter formation as they learn the letters through their phonics lessons and through specific handwriting sessions. During Year 2, when the child is ready and shows that they can form letters correctly, they are introduced to cursive handwriting. As children become confident with handwriting skills they are encouraged to develop their own particular style.



  • Pirbright Village Primary is a member of Learning Partners Academy Trust
  • Farnham Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 4LU.
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