At St Thomas of Canterbury we have a real focus on the teaching and learning of English. Children will experience quality opportunities to listen to, read, write and respond about a range of different genres.

Speaking and Listening

In Speaking and Listening, children will become active listeners who develop their visualisation skills, subsequently enhancing their imagination and in turn, supporting their reading and writing skills. Children will enjoy recalling, questioning and exploring information and will be able to communicate their ideas and thoughts clearly, developing an awareness of their audience in order to interject when appropriate and maintain eye contact and positive body language. Drama plays an important role in both English lessons and extra-curricular activities and productions. It gives the children opportunities to explore, discuss and deal with issues. It encourages them to think and act creatively, thus developing critical thinking and generating ideas for further discussion and writing. Through drama, children are encouraged to take responsible roles and make choices, to participate in and guide their own learning. Visiting drama groups are a frequent addition to the planned units of work and help to engage the children in their learning by making it interesting and fun.


In writing, children will draw on their experience and skills learnt through quality opportunities in Speaking and Listening and Reading to write for different purposes.  Our aim is that children will become confident, able, independent writers who enjoy and understand the structure, purpose and forms of writing and can apply these skills to adapt their writing to different audiences.  Children will be able to express themselves in a variety of different ways using their knowledge of Standard English, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and clear handwriting, to allow their ideas to be recorded successfully and their writing to flow. As a result of experiencing a range of texts and genres, children will develop an awareness of authors’ intentions so helping their ability to write for effect with an awareness of the reader.

Reading and Phonics

At St Thomas the children will develop an appreciation of reading by becoming confident in using a range of decoding, comprehension and inference skills. They will be able to respond to a range of texts with their own views and opinions. Through quality teaching, children will be given skills that will enhance their reading; particularly when using expression and punctuation in a text. They will be given rich opportunities to read a range of different texts out loud to an audience.

As such, we will use a range of texts in English and Guided Reading sessions using a range of banded/levelled books to support all children at the appropriate level.  We use a quality range of books, some from reading schemes and others not, to provide children with a range of texts from a variety of sources.  Some of the books that we use are from the following schemes: Oxford Reading Tree, Treetops, Rigby Star, Project X, Spelling Bug and Reading Bug. A Guide to Reading for Parents from the Book Trust can be downloaded here.

We teach the early stages of reading through Phonics.  We use Letters and Sounds, a variety of different resources and our professional judgement which draws on best practice including teacher made resources, Twinkl, Read, Write, Inc and the Oxford website.  Children are arranged into small groups for discrete phonics teaching.  Children who need Phonics teaching beyond Key Stage One continue to receive discrete teaching as part of their English lessons.

The Letters and Sounds programme for teaching phonics and high frequency words is split into 6 phases with the different phases being covered in different years in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

  • Phase 1– Nursery in to Reception
  • Phase 2– Reception
  • Phase 3– Reception
  • Phase 4– Reception / Year 1
  • Phase 5– Year 1
  • Phase 6– Year 1 / Year 2

Follow this link for more detailed information on what is expected at each level of the Phonics programme. Interventions are in place across the school for those children not yet confident and proficient in the use of synthetic phonics to help with their reading and spelling.

Follow this link for a helpful website where you can check how to pronounce the different phonic sounds. It also contains general advice on how to support your child with reading at home.

In June each year the children in Year 1 have a Phonics screening which is a nation wide programme to evaluate their success with reading using phonics. More information on the screening can be found in the attached Phonics Screening Information presentation which was used in January’s Parent Information Evening on the Phonics Screening.

Useful Links

Useful websites