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Cirencester Primary School

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Cirencester Primary School


We teach four separate areas of English at Cirencester Primary School, which all combine together to develop children who have a good level of Literacy skills to move forward to secondary school with.

  • Reading – Children begin to learn to read using a synthetic phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’. Children practise becoming more fluent readers though individual and group reading sessions using high quality texts and also through our online reading schemes ‘Bug Club’ and 'Accelerated Reader'. As children move through the school the focus moves more onto the comprehension skills of reading, with children developing their understanding of characters, plot and authors’ writing styles. We have a fantastic school library which further enhances the love of reading for our pupils.
  • Writing – We have recently introduced a 'Storytelling' approach to writing which uses drama and oral retelling of stories to aid children with their own writing. Children will be exposed to a variety of writing genres such as poetry and non-fiction as well as different types of stories. Texts chosen will often be linked to children’s current topics in class.
  • SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) – SPAG teaches children to have a technical understanding of how the English language works. As well as being able to spell words correctly, use a wide range of vocabulary and punctuate well, children are taught the meaning of grammatical terms such as noun, verb, adjective, prefix, pronoun and adverb. They are also taught what phrases and clauses are and how to use them, to understand what conjunctions are and how they work and to know how to turn a question into a command.
  • Handwriting – Pupils are first taught how to form letters correctly using a cursive style in Nursery and Reception. Throughout Key Stage 1 pupils perfect their letter formation, including ascending and descending letters. Pupils are then taught how to join their writing with the expectation that the majority of pupils are able to join their writing before they enter Key Stage 2.


We set out very high expectations for levels of presentation in pupils’ work, obviously dependent on their ability and age. All staff expect to see pupils taking great care and pride in their work and encourage pupils to apply their neatest handwriting when completing any written task in school or at home.



At Cirencester Primary School we begin to teach children to read using the phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’.

This programme aims to build children's speaking and listening skills 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 to children starting in Nursery/Reception, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by the age of seven.


There are six overlapping phases as shown in the table below. Each phase gives a suggested timeframe for completion, although children all develop at different rates with their phonic knowledge. We teach phonics in daily discrete sessions from Reception up to Year 2. Children are sometimes organised into groups for phonics sessions, dependent on what phonic phase they are currently working on.

Phase Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One


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

Phase Two (Reception)

Up to 6 weeks

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)

Up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes (sounds containing 2 letters) such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes (sounds) 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)

4 to 6 weeks

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

Phase Five

(Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, for example the /a/ sound can be spelt ai, ay, a_e. They also learn different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know e.g. ‘ow’ makes a different sound in cow and grow.

Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

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


Pupils continue to regularly practise their spelling throughout Key Stage 2, through revising spelling patterns and rules. They also learn how to spell high frequency words, which cannot be phonetically sounded out. You will find a list of these words in your child’s planner.