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English Curriculum Intent


In Pickhurst Infants Academy, we firmly believe that every pupil deserves the highest quality provision, which is engaging, coherently planned, and tailored to every child’s needs. 


It is our intention that every child who leaves our school has a lifelong love for reading, a passion for vocabulary and language, and is equipped with the skills necessary to clearly express their thoughts and ideas in speaking and writing.


Our English Curriculum is packed with engaging ‘hooks’ rich experiences and high quality texts. It is progressive, but mindful of previously acquired skills, which need to be consistently revisited in order for them to be securely embedded. Teachers leave the children intrigued and excited about what the next lesson will bring.


The teaching of all aspects of English is given a high priority within our school. Confidence in basic language skills enables children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, preparing them for their future journey through education and beyond.


Our intentions: 


  • To ensure that every child becomes a reader, writer, and confident speaker before leaving Pickhurst Infant Academy.


  • To inspire in each child a love of language, reading, writing, and high-quality literature.


  • To provide an English Curriculum that is sequenced progressively and cumulatively to develop the acquisition of knowledge and skills. 



Our English Curriculum is implemented through the use of high quality, age-appropriate texts. We use each book to develop vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension, with a focus on key reading strategies and skills essential for success across the wider curriculum and beyond. For example, we explore writing structures and features of different genres, identify the author’s purpose and audience; plan and write an initial piece with the goal of achieving clear context, purpose, and effective expression by critiquing, editing and redrafting. 



Reading is a fundamental skill, used to stimulate children's imaginations and allow them to acquire a love for books. Reading influences the thoughts, feelings and emotions of all of our learners. We carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in order to support their child’s ongoing development.

Reading takes place two/ three times a week in a Guided Reading group with a teacher or teaching assistant. If this is not appropriate, a child will receive individualized support from their teacher on a 1:1 basis. During these weekly sessions, children access fully decodable books, which give them an opportunity to practice their decoding, prosody and comprehension skills where appropriate. Children in all classes have daily access to high quality story time which ensures that reading is correctly modelled to children, as well as giving them the opportunity discuss content and to enjoy being read too!

At Pickhurst Infant Academy, in Reception and Year 1, children mainly use Collins ‘Letters and Sounds’, where texts are carefully matched to the child’s phonic level. Moving up to Year 2, there is a wider choice of reading schemes. These include: Big Cat Collins, Oxford Reading Tree or Dandelion; providing children with a more challenging reading experience, which also allows them to use their embedded phonic and whole word knowledge in order to read independently. 


Reading for Pleasure

Reading is not only celebrated and promoted within each classroom. Around the school, you will find displays used to celebrate children’s literature. We feel strongly about children hearing a high quality text read to them each day by their teacher. Also, our pupils have designated time for quiet reading time in their classrooms. The children are able to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy from their well-resourced book corners. They can choose to share a book with a peer, or read a magazine or a topic book related to our wider curriculum. During warmer months, teachers often use our extensive grounds to share a story with the children on the grass, in our Forest School reading area or, as often preferred by the children, reading to our Pickhurst chickens.

We invite parents and carers to attend our Reading Workshop, where we share relevant research as well as useful strategies in how to best support your child at home with phonics and reading for pleasure. We have created a list of recommended books, which we share with parents. We are also very lucky to have so many parents and carers who are actively involved in helping with reading in the afternoons. To ensure that we are all role models, every last Friday of the month, we open our classroom doors to family members who would like to come in and read with the children.

Throughout the school year, the importance of reading is enhanced through assemblies, competitions, World Book Day, author or poet visits, Book Fairs and sponsored reading events to further enrich our English curriculum. Children are encouraged to visit our local library and take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.


Language and Vocabulary Development

Starting in Reception, we endeavour to provide our pupils with a 'language rich' environment and a range of opportunities to develop oracy skills. We have high expectations that our students are able to speak confidently in full, grammatically correct sentences. Across our curriculum, the children explore new and challenging vocabulary to ensure that they broaden their understanding of tier 2 and tier 3 words. Teachers carefully plan which new words they will be exploring, ensuring consistency across the year group. These new words are explored in context to ensure that the children have sound understanding of how to use them on a daily basis. Ambitious language is displayed on classroom working walls and in the hall. Frequently, a new word is shared and explained in assembly in order to promote and encourage language curiosity. All the children are active Word Collectors and are encouraged and rewarded for finding new words in and out of school.



To promote effective communication, teachers introduce the children to a range of Kagan collaborative language structures. These are used frequently throughout the curriculum in order to maximise learning time and to embed the need to take turns and to listen to each other effectively.


When planning English lessons, teachers use Tower Hamlets ‘Progression in Language Structures’ to ensure that high standards and expectations of spoken language are maintained and built upon.


Any language gaps are identified and assessed in Reception. In addition to strong, bespoke Wave 1 teaching, we work closely with highly skilled Speech and Language experts who offer and provide tailored support. We run Chatterboxes and Speech and Language sessions. Beginning this academic year, we will also be part of NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention).


As a result, we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident exploring and taking risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas in an eloquent manner. Our attainment at the end of EYFS and KS1 is consistently above Bromley’s and the national average.





We believe that our current phonics programme provides the prime approach to decoding print. Phonics is taught in a highly structured programme of daily lessons across EYFS and KS1. Children start learning phonic knowledge and skills early in reception, and provide a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one Phonics Screening Check and all national curriculum expectations for words reading through decoding by the end of key stage 1.

We are demonstrating fidelity to The Letters and Sounds framework, which is supplemented by a combination of Ruth Miskin and our own Pickhurst visuals and phrases.  Pickhurst resources and planning, provide a systematic synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics across the school. Each session gives an opportunity for children to revisit their previous session, be taught new skills, practise together and apply what they have learned. Daily sessions teach the main grapheme-phoneme correspondences of English in a clearly defined, incremental sequence. This enables the children to read and spell many words from early on in their schooling. There is a clear progression from simple to more complex phonics knowledge introduced to the children at the most appropriate time in their learning journey.



Children in Reception begin with Phase 1, which provides a range of listening activities through play, in order to develop their listening skills. Progress is tracked through an ongoing teacher assessment and more formally at the end of each term.


As children move through Reception, they continue to build upon the listening activities and are introduced to Phase 2, which marks the start of systematic phonic work. Grapheme-phoneme correspondence is introduced. The process of segmenting whole words and selecting letters to represent those phonemes is taught, as well as writing the letters to encode words.


Phase 3 completes the teaching of the alphabet and then moves on to cover sounds represented by more than one letter, learning one representation for each of the 44 phonemes. At this stage, just one grapheme (spelling) is given for each phoneme.


When children become secure they continue into Phase 4 where they start to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants. No new phonemes are introduced at this phase.


It is expected that children will enter Phase 5 as they begin year 1, broadening their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know.


It is expected that children entering Year 2 will start Phase 6, which develops a variety of spelling strategies, including homophones (word specific spellings), e.g. see/ sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary, as well as the accurate spelling of words containing unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondences, e.g. laughs, two.


The reading and spelling of high frequency and tricky words are taught continuously throughout the phases.


Phonics Assessment

Children’s progress is continually reviewed to allow planning for gaps and interventions and to ensure that there is sufficient challenge available for more confident learners.

The national Phonics screening check is performed in June of Year 1. Prior to this, the Year 1 phonics workshop gives parents information about how they can support their children at home with phonics. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who do not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2. Additional support is put in place.


At Pickhurst Infant Academy we

  • Teach children that phonics helps us to read and write.
  • Follow a specific Letters and Sounds four-part lesson structure and teaching sequence (review, teach, practise, apply), which promotes independence, resilience, and success in all our learners.
  • Demonstrate full fidelity to our programme.
  • Ensure consistency of resources and approaches across the school.
  • Provide early ‘catch up’ interventions where needed.
  • Ensure that all phonics teaching is delivered with pace and passion.
  • Include an active element to all lessons that ensures participation for all learners.
  • Use decodable words and extracts in phonics lessons so that children can directly apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level.
  • Ensure that children take home books closely matched to their phonic ability.
  • Invite all parents to attend phonics, reading, and writing workshops to support their children with the development of their child’s phonics skills.


Children make rapid progress from their starting points in reading and writing. Our Phonics Check results are higher than that of Bromley and the national average.