English Curriculum

At Clifton Primary School, we are passionate about creating fluent readers, creative writers and confident speakers. We work tirelessly to inspire, motivate and stretch all children whilst providing them with a broad, exciting and challenging literary diet. To help us promote a love of learning in English, we follow the statutory requirements as set out in The Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) and The National Curriculum for English (Years 1 to 6).

The National Curriculum for English

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and English by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with 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.


At Clifton Primary School, we create confident, fluent readers who have a passion for and a love of reading. We aim to ensure that our children know the importance of reading for pleasure and for information and we provide them with numerous opportunities to do so across the curriculum. We want our children to read widely and often with fluency and good understanding.

To achieve this, we have developed a comprehensive approach to teaching reading which includes: a systematic synthetic phonics programme; a comprehensive home reading scheme; well stocked book corners in every classroom; whole class reading sessions; English lessons based on real texts and an emphasis on developing reading skills throughout the curriculum.

To support the teaching of reading, all children have access to a range of reading materials which they can take home. We use several schemes for our home reading books; these are mainly ‘Songbirds Phonics’, ‘Big Cat Letters and Sounds’ and 'Big Cat' books. All of our home reading books are 'book banded' so the children read books at the appropriate level for their reading development. The children also take home a 'free choice' book from their class library alongside their reading scheme book.

To inspire children and share our love of reading, the children have a daily Reading for Pleasure session; this is a lovely time for children to enjoy being read to and to have the opportunity to share a book with others.

In addition to this, Clifton also runs a programme called Accelerated Reader for Year 3 to 6. Accelerated Reader (AR) is a reading intervention which helps teachers to monitor children's independent reading. AR aims to significantly increase reading progress and reading motivation.


Clifton Primary School Phonics plays an important role in teaching young children how to read and write. It helps children to hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

At Clifton Primary School, we use the non-statutory government document ‘Letters and Sounds’ to support staff with the teaching of phonics.

Alongside this document, we use resources from PhonicsPlay and the handwriting and sound rhymes from the ‘Read, Write Inc.’ scheme to help the children to learn the key sounds in each phase.

Phonics teaching begins in the nursery and continues to the end of Year 1 when all children take the statutory Phonics Screening Check. After Year 1, we continue to teach phonics as an intervention for those children who need additional phonics instruction.


At Clifton Primary School, we create imaginative, independent writers who have a flair and passion for writing.

We aim to ensure that our children are able to write accurately and imaginatively using a range of creative devices to engage the reader of their work. To achieve this, we have developed a comprehensive approach to teaching writing which incorporates elements of the well-known Talk for Writing approach.

Talk for Writing is a fun and creative approach to writing. The process begins with the children with enjoying and sharing stories; this allows them to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing.

During the initial 'imitation' stage of Talk for Writing, the children learn to tell a story off by heart using expression and actions. Once the story is learnt, the children move onto the next stage of their writing.

At the 'innovation' stage, the children make the story their own by making key changes e.g. by changing the character or setting.

Finally, at the ‘independent application’ stage, the children write their own story independently using the story plot of the original text. This is where the children really shine as they flex their creative muscles. Non-fiction writing and poetry are woven into the Talk for Writing process. Opportunities to develop writing skills are also maximised throughout the curriculum.


Despite the increased use of technology in modern day life, primary school children are still expected to learn to write legibly and fluently. The National Curriculum sets out handwriting objectives for every year group.

In Year 1, pupils should be taught to:

  • Sit correctly at the table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly.
  • Begin to form lower case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place.
  • Form capital letters.
  • Form the digits 0 to 9.
  • Understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘family’ (a group of letters that are formed in the same way).

In Year 2, pupils are expected to:

  • Form lower case letters of the correct size, relative to one another.
  • Start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters, and understand which letters are best left unjoined.
  • Write capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another.
  • Use spacing between words that is appropriate for the size of the letters.

In Years 3 and 4, children should:

  • Continue to develop their joined-up handwriting.
  • Increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting – for example, ensuring that downstrokes of letters are straight and parallel, not sloping.

In Years 5 and 6, children are taught to:

  • Write with increasing legibility, fluency and speed.
  • Choose which shape of a letter to use, and decide whether or not to join specific letters.
  • Choose the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

To help the children to reach these goals, we teach handwriting every day from Reception to Year 6.

In the Early Years, we prepare the children for handwriting by focussing on their physical development, strength and stamina. Early handwriting is taught within phonics in Reception so the children learn the correct letter formation at the same time as their sounds. In Reception, the children also begin to use the 'Penpals' handwriting scheme.

This scheme continues up to Year 6 so that the children and staff at Clifton all use a consistent handwriting style.