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English at Hillmead

The English curriculum at Hillmead develops children's speaking, listening, reading and writing skills so that children can communicate their thoughts, ideas and feelings clearly and respond to others' thoughts, ideas and feelings.



At Hillmead we teach the important compositional skills for writing through studying a wide variety of genres, ensuring children are exposed to high quality text type examples. Our teachers follow the Teaching Sequence for Writing, which means that during a unit of work children will learn to read and understand a high quality text, then they practise the skills of the style of writing (including the relevant grammar skills) and then they apply these skills into their own writing. 


Creativity is central to our teaching of writing, we strongly believe that brilliant writers come from fostering and maintaining a love of writing and to do this our lessons are designed to inspire and to tap into children's natural imaginations.


Along with composition, the teaching of written transcription skills are very important. Handwriting lessons happen regularly throughout the school (from Reception to Year 6); children learn progressively to hold a pencil correctly, to form letters and digits correctly and to increase consistency and fluency throughout their independent writing.


Also, spelling is taught to KS1 through their phonics sessions whereas KS2 teaching follows the 'No Nonsense Spelling' scheme.



Reading consists of two dimensions:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (both listening and reading)

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world.


Throughout our school the books children read are structured in a banded system that the Hillmead staff have created to match the expectations of the new curriculum - we worked hard to ensure all book bands have a wide variety of texts including poetry. Parents/carers are encouraged to share books, read to and listen to their child read at home on a daily basis and we have many wonderful volunteers that hear individual readers in every year group during school time. At Hillmead we have introduced a 'Reading Response Journal' to deepen our children's thinking about the texts they read. Children complete a journal task when they finish a book, we developed our learning journals to help deepen the children's thinking about what they read and to help them to linger longer on a text to really appreciate it fully.


Guided Reading happens regularly throughout the school and allows teachers to work with children to develop their comprehension and questioning of texts. We use both a carousel approach to guided reading as well as whole class reading in some classes.


Spoken Language

Spoken Language underpins the development of writing and reading. The quality and variety of language that pupil hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. 



At Hillmead we teach phonics following ‘Letters and Sounds’.

What is letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting in Nursery, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance.



Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Nursery/Reception)

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three (Reception)

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four (Reception)

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segent longer words with adjacet consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


For more detailed information, please see the full 'Letters and Sounds' document.


Hillmead follows the 'No Nonsense Spelling' scheme from Year 2 through to Year 6 to teach spelling. Children are taught spelling patterns and rules and have a chance to practise and investigate these rules within lessons. KS2 classes have at least 3 spelling lessons per week and the lessons follow the following teaching sequence: 


Activate prior knowledge

Revisit previous linked learning


Introduce the new concept


Investigate Model


Individual/group work

Extend/explore the concept independently




Assess through independent application

Explain and demonstrate understanding


Below are suggested strategies that are used in school to support children practising spelling words and rules, which may be helpful to use at home too: 

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The documents below outline the English curriculum taught in each year group:

Our School Library

Mrs Gates opens the library for classes to browse, renew and take out books on a Thursday afternoon.

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