A rich English curriculum is key to pupil engagement and progress.

Our aim is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping all pupils, including those with SEND, with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

We follow the National Curriculum for English, supplemented with other material, and we look for opportunities to make links with a variety of subjects for cross-curricular breadth.

Click HERE 

The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with a good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate

Fostering a love of reading

Learning to read is probably the most important skill your child will learn at primary school.  Reading is a powerful tool.  Not only is it of use for practical activities, such as reading instructions but it has the potential to whisk you off to other lands, help you understand the feelings of others and develop empathy.  It can also help people not only cope with their emotions but give valuable time away from their own emotions.  This is why we love to read at John Rankin - take a look at the range of author's we read at JRS!

The following document will give you some guidance on our reading expectations and how you can help us at John Rankin:

Useful information:

There are many websites that can suggest reading material.  We would recommend:


Writing skills at JRS are developed through a text-based approach linked to our Literature Spine of authors.  Pupils develop an understanding of purpose and form and the ability to evaluate the notion of which style or format of writing is most appropriate to a genre. 

As a result of exploring a text in order to build an understanding of the writer’s craft, pupils progress to develop a deep understanding of the components of writing – planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and then publishing. Allowing pupils, the time to study and explore the text, introduce new writing skills before applying the skills with increasing levels of independence ensures a deeper understanding of writing choices. 

Our aim is for all children, including those with additional needs, to leave JRS being able to use appropriate formats (including poetry, narrative and non-narrative writing) and styles to communicate effectively for a range of purposes and audiences.

We link our writing to carefully chosen texts to deepen pupils knowledge of the wider curriculum, while ensuring pupils are immersed in our rich and varied literary heritage.

Please click here to see our Literature spine and the authors we have chosen to enrich our writing at JRS.

Opportunities  to enhance pupils’ vocabulary at JRS arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary increases, we show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. We also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning along with exceptions to the rule when learning spellings!

We are currently working on documents to show the progression through the year groups from Year 1 – 6, which cover phonics (linked to the Essential Letters and Sounds programme), spelling rules and statutory words.

Whilst in The Infant School there aren't statutory words to be learnt, there is a list of common words and exceptions that are beneficial to be able to spell correctly.

That list can be found here.

In the Junior School, although we continue to explore phonics as a tool for develop spelling, we also use the “No Nonsense” spelling scheme. In the Junior school there are statutory lists of words which the children must learn to spell, we break these down into two lists. The lists are a mixture of words pupils frequently use in their writing and those which they often misspell.

Click here for Statutory spelling word lists for Y3 & Y4

Click here for Statutory spelling word lists for Y5 & Y


Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds and the symbols that represent them.  The English alphabet has 26 letters, but they actually make 44 different sounds (phonemes).  There are over 150 different ways that these are represented (graphemes)! 

Don’t panic, we will cover the graphemes which are used most often in a progressive programme called: Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS). 

It is a complete programme which is designed to teach children how to read through the act of decoding and blending and is validated by the Department for Education. It teaches children the link between the sounds of our language (phonemes) and the written representation of these sounds (graphemes), or the spellings of the sounds contained within the English language.

Essential Letters and Sounds at JRS...

  • is delivered to the whole class
  • is rigorous and engaging
  • supports teachers to ensure children keep up rather than catch up
  • aligns with books from Oxford University Press
  • provides immediate, in the lesson intervention

Phonics at JRS

Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of FS2 and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class. 

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).

We teach children to:

• Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently

• Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

How can you help at home?

Supporting Reading at Home:

  • Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
  • We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
  • We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

                Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

                Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

                Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!

We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please click here to watch a video on how to accurately pronounce these sounds. Please click here to watch a video on how to accurately blend sounds to read words.

ELS Resources to help at home

Parent Presentation.mp4

Parent Presentation.pdf

Grapheme-Sheet-Phase-2 1.pdf

Grapheme-Sheet-Phase-3 1.pdf

Grapheme-Sheet-Phase-5 1.pdf

HRS Bookmark - Year 1.pdf

HRS Bookmarks - Reception.pdf

Pronunciation of Sounds 1.pdf

Supporting children with developing fluency in reading 1.pdf

Practical phonics activities to do at home.pdf


More support for parents and carers can be found here: