English Curriculum Statement

 At Trent Primary School, we aim to provide our children with an English Curriculum that is fun, motivating, interesting and most importantly purposeful. We strive to develop high standards of literacy through a stimulating and inspirational English Curriculum, where every child fosters a passion for English, has the opportunity to shine and reaches their full potential.

 As English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society, it is at the heart of all learning at Trent.  We recognise that a good grasp of English allows children to access the whole curriculum. Therefore, the overarching aim of the English Curriculum is to equip children with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and develop a love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

Here at Trent, our broad and rich English curriculum aims to ensure that all our children:

  • 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; explain clearly their understanding and ideas – to be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.


At Trent we understand that learning to read is the foundation for future educational success. Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for lifelong confidence and well-being. The teaching of reading at Trent consists of two dimensions: Phonics and Comprehension. Reading focuses on developing children’s competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.


Synthetic phonics teaching is used daily to ensure virtually all children can learn to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught the correspondences between letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes). They identify and blend different letter sounds and letter combinations together (‘synthesise’ them) to make a word – for example, pronouncing each phoneme in shop /sh/-/o/-/p/ and then blending those phonemes to produce the word. Through this, children take the first important steps in learning to read. They can also use this knowledge to begin to spell new words they hear.

The systematic approach to teaching synthetic phonics, in Reception and Key Stage One, means that a planned, thorough approach is taken, to teach children the simplest sounds first and progressing all the way through to the most complex combinations of letters. 

Using a systematic synthetic phonics approach, almost all children quickly become confident and independent readers. They soon move away from the mechanics of identifying and blending letter sounds (or ‘decoding’ words) and start reading fluently, even when they come across words they have never heard or seen before. Once the process of reading becomes automatic and easy, they can devote all their attention to understanding the meaning of what they have read.

Phonics is assessed regularly in preparation for the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1. Children who require additional support are identified early and intervention programmes are put in place to accelerate learning.


Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills are developed through children’s experience of regular expert Guided Reading sessions with the teacher, as well as from shared reading of high-quality texts. ERIC time (Enjoying Reading in Class) happens every day, in every classroom. It is a whole-school approach to the teaching of reading, based on best practice.  During ERIC time, children work in small groups, on a carousel of reading activities. 

 At Trent we take a personalised approach to the teaching of comprehension skills, with all children having a specially designed Reading Journal. Reading Journals contain each child’s personal reading targets, as well as home and school reading records, which are filled in daily. Reading Journals are a powerful communication tool between home and school as teachers comment on children’s reading within the journal and parents do the same.  Once a child has met all of their targets within their journal, they receive the Head teacher’s Reading Reward, before moving onto a new Reading Journal and a new set of challenging reading targets to work on. 

All children are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and nonfiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, and to establish an appreciation and love of reading. Reading widely and often increases children’s understanding and vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. It also opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds. At Trent we believe it is essential that, by the end of their time here, all our children are able to read fluently, and with confidence. Reading for pleasure is a whole-school priority here at Trent and we are committed to building a whole school community that loves reading.


High quality core books are used as stimuli for a creative and stimulating writing curriculum at Trent. Sequences of lessons are planned around an engaging text to make writing meaningful and motivational. Award winning author’s works are used and analysed to engage all children in the writing process. A variety of narrative, non-fiction and poetry text types are taught within each year group. The children are taught the purpose, generic structures and language features of each writing genre. In composition, children are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing to gain competence in structuring their work effectively. Each of the elements is important in the production of a finished piece of writing. Effective teaching at Trent often focuses on particular aspects of this process, e.g. planning a story, an explanation, an argument, or revising a draft to change or improve it. By structuring and restructuring ideas in writing, children extend their powers of imagination, learn to express increasingly complex, abstract and logical relationships, develop skills of reasoning and critical evaluation. This, in turn, feeds back into their competence as thinkers and speakers. At regular intervals, all children at Trent have experience of developing a piece of writing through the whole process.

The teaching of writing at Trent centres on a personalised approach, with all children having their own personal writing targets to focus upon. Targets are worked upon during weekly group guided writing sessions with the teacher, as well as in shared and modelled writing as a class. Independent writing is assessed on a weekly basis and children are provided with achievable steps to progress and extend their writing capabilities quickly.

At Trent we recognise that writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription, that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphological (word structure) and orthographic (spelling structure) patterns of words. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Therefore, at Trent we incorporate a skills based approach to writing, which explicitly teaches Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling and Handwriting systematically in regular short sessions within English lessons.  

Grammar and Punctuation

The grammar of our first language is learnt naturally and implicitly, through interactions with other speakers and from reading. We recognise, however, that explicit knowledge of grammar is very important, as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language. Building this knowledge is best achieved through a focus on grammar and punctuation within the teaching of reading, writing and speaking. Some would argue that the study of grammar is worth teaching in its own right because it is intrinsically interesting – and so it is. This is not the primary aim at Trent; our aim is to improve children’s writing. Grammar is fundamental to this, as a means to an end, but a means that involves investigation, problem solving, language play and a growing awareness of (and interest in) how language works.  It should be clear from this that the purpose of teaching grammar is not simply the naming of parts of speech, nor is it to provide arbitrary rules for ‘correct’ English.  It is about making children aware of key grammatical principles and their effects, to increase the range of choices open to them when they write. We understand that the study of grammar all by itself will not necessarily make a child a better writer. But we feel that, by gaining a clearer understanding of how our language works, children should also gain greater control over the way they shape words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs.  In short, we believe that the teaching of grammar helps our children to become more effective writers. The growth of competence in grammar also contributes importantly to the broader development of children’s thinking. The more context-free and explicit nature of writing helps children become increasingly reflective about language. 


At Trent we want our children to become fluent and effective writers; accurate spelling is a means to that end. Competent spellers need to spend less time and energy in thinking about spelling to enable them to channel their time and energy into the skills of composition, sentence structure and precise word choice.

The two factors that make English such a rich language also define its complexity: the alphabetic system and the history of the language. The alphabetic system is efficient, 26 letters creating 44 phonemes in 144 combinations to form about half a million words in current use. The English alphabet includes 21 consonants; spoken English uses 24 consonant sounds, so the match between how we say a consonant and how we write it is generally predictable. The rich array of vowels poses particular problems: there are 20 spoken vowel sounds but only five vowel letters. The long a sound, for example, is represented in a range of ways: e.g. ai, a-e, ea, ay, eigh.

The other factor influencing our spelling is history. There are three main historical sources for English spelling patterns:

• Germanic – From the Anglo Saxons. Over half our words fall into this category;

• Romance – French and, in the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese;

• Classical – Greek and Latin, from which we often derive the language of areas of knowledge,

The English language has absorbed thousands of words from all over the world, through trade and commerce. These words and phrases continue to enrich the language and give us a great wealth of expression. The implications of this, for teaching spelling, may seem daunting but 85% of the English spelling system is predictable.

At Trent, the key to supporting our pupils to become confident spellers lie in teaching the strategies, rules and conventions systematically and explicitly, and helping pupils recognise which strategies they can use to improve their own spelling. Our balanced spelling programme includes five main components:

understanding the principles underpinning word construction (phonemic, morphemic and


recognising how (and how far) these principles apply to each word, in order to learn to spell words;

practising and assessing spelling;

applying spelling strategies and proofreading;

building children’s self-images as spellers.

Trent’s spelling programme gradually builds pupils’ spelling vocabulary by introducing patterns or conventions and continually practising those already introduced. Experience has confirmed that short, lively, focused sessions are more enjoyable and effective than an occasional skills session. Spelling strategies are taught explicitly and applied to high-frequency words, cross curricular words and individual pupils’ words. Proofreading is taught during shared and guided writing sessions and links are made to the teaching of handwriting. All children have their own individual Spelling Journals, containing their personal spelling targets, in which they practice their spellings, carry out their investigations and consolidate their learning.

Here is the yearly overview of Spelling and Grammar for years 1 to 6.


Here at Trent, it is our aim that all pupils should develop a fluent and legible style of handwriting.  Handwriting is a movement skill and one that is best taught directly by demonstration, explanation and practice. The principal aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process, which frees pupils to focus on the content of the writing. The correct formation of all letters needs to become automatic and may require a lot of practice, particularly in the early years and Key Stage One. In order for this to occur, handwriting is taught in ways that enhance fluency and legibility.

Handwriting is taught regularly throughout the week in Reception and Key Stage One. Explicit teaching and practise of handwriting skills occurs in short sharp bursts, initially during phonics teaching. As pupils learn each phoneme, the correct formation of the graphemes is modelled and monitored. The expectation is that handwriting will be explicitly taught and practised in short sessions. Pupils in Reception and Key Stage One should be allowed a few minutes each day to practise, simply concentrating on developing accuracy, fluency and speed without the distraction of spelling and composing text. 

Speaking and Listening

Trent’s English Curriculum reflects the importance of spoken language in children’s development – linguistic, cognitive and social – across the whole curriculum. Teachers ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their vocabulary, grammar and understanding for reading and writing. We ensure that children develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and poems, and to prepare their ideas prior to writing. They are assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers should ensure children build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Children are also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.

Extra Curricular Activities

In addition to the above, extra curricular activities play an important role in our rich and diverse English Curriculum. Regular trips to places such as the Roald Dahl Museum, the British Library and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre make English learning come alive for our children. Other exciting English based activities include: book clubs, book fairs, the school newspaper, blogging, World Book Day celebrations, poetry competitions and the debating team. Through all of these enriching experiences, we aim to inspire our children to, not only achieve highly, but to enjoy English here at Trent.

Through being taught to write and speak fluently, our children learn to communicate their ideas and emotions to others; through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, spiritually and socially. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society. And at Trent we are strongly committed to ensuring all our children enter society with the English skills that will equip them to succeed in life. 

Curriculum Map for English

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