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English unites the important skills of reading and writing. It also involves spoken langauge, as good oral work enhances pupils’ understanding of language. Drama encourages the development of receptive and expressive language and productions are an integral part of the English curriculum.


At The Russell School, we want all of our children to become fluent, confident readers. From the moment they start school, lots of opportunities are provided for children to engage with books that interest and excite them. They are encouraged to choose and peruse books freely as well as sharing them with an adult. Enjoying and sharing books leads to children seeing them as a source of pleasure and interest and motivates them to value reading.

The children are taught a number of skills and strategies to enable them to become good readers. In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), children are taught these skills through the Letters and Sounds programme which falls largely within the Communication and Language and Literacy areas of learning in the EYFS. In particular, it supports linking sounds and letters in the order in which they occur in words, and naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. It also draws on and promotes other areas of learning. The children are provided with high quality play activities which offer lots of opportunities to enrich their language across all areas of the EYFS curriculum. The children are also encouraged to read daily by taking home books of graded difficulty. These books are chosen from a number of published schemes including OUP Floppy Phonics, Pearson Bugs and Collins Big Cat.     

The Letters and Sounds programme continues through Key Stage One as children become more fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. By the end of Key Stage One, many children will be reading longer and less familiar texts independently. Children will begin to choose to read both for information and for pleasure.

In Key Stage Two, children continue to develop their reading skills, particularly in terms of their comprehension of more complicated texts. They work through the different reading levels until they become free readers and can choose from our wide range of library books. New books are purchased on a regular basis and book fairs are held in school during the year, encouraging the children to peruse the latest titles. They are then encouraged to inform teachers of any new titles which they feel the school should stock.

Our regular 'Book Weeks' aim to promote the enjoyment of reading, writing and drama across the school through a range of themed literacy activities.


At The Russell School, the children cover a range of writing styles. During English lessons, they have the opportunity to write in different genres and use their creativity. Writing is cross-curricular: in English the children may use their imagination to write a fictional story; in History they may be persuading the government to enforce compulsory schooling to all children in Victorian Times and in Science they may then move on to writing instructions for an experiment.

Pupils learn from an early stage that much of their writing will be read by an audience and therefore needs to be accurate, legible and appropriately presented. Every child has their own special book for writing and is involved in the editing and refining of their work. Throughout Key Stage Two there is a progressive emphasis on the skills of planning, drafting, revising, proof-reading and the presentation of writing.

Handwriting is taught and practised regularly, with the children learning the cursive style from Year One onwards.


Spelling is taught in a structured manner in every year group. Each week the lessons concentrate on spelling patterns, word families or irregular words. The children are taught strategies to remember new spellings, e.g. look-say-cover-write-check, mnemonics, identifying the difficult bits in words or breaking the word into syllables.