The subject lead for English at Darwen St James is Mrs Gonzalez.

Learning to read, write and communicate effectively are the most important things children will learn at primary school. At Darwen St James' we have the highest expectations for all our pupils.

English is taught through whole-class English lessons, small group work and individual work with an adult. We aim to regularly apply our English skills throughout the curriculum and beyond.

Snapshot of English


Reading is an integral part of the process of learning and also an essential life skill. We are always looking at ways to feature reading in everything that we do. With this in mind, we have quality texts and reading material that we use in our English lessons, Guided Reading and the wider curriculum. We have exciting reading areas in the classrooms and around school as well as our school library. Children get the opportunity to read in all areas of the curriculum, in worship and also for pleasure.



Writing is a really important skill and one that we are concentrating on not only in our English lessons, SPAG lessons, handwriting sessions but also across the wider curriculum. We encourage, through our Growth Mindset approach, children editing their own work to identify areas within their writing that they could further develop and improve. This is a modelled process that is detailed in our marking and feedback policy. 



Being articulate and speaking confidently in public (be that 1 person or 100) is a key life skill and one that we are working hard on in school. It is also one of the essential skills that we are teaching through Skills Builder and that runs alongside the National Curriculum requirements. From speaking to their partner or teacher to performing in a whole class production, we are constantly looking for ways to promote this, this includes whole school performances like, nativities, Easter performance, end of the school year, KS 2 carol service, assemblies, reading and saying prayers and our welcome/closing words in worship, feeding back in the classroom, meeting visitors to school, peer and group work, The James' Factor, oracy competitions with other local schools and more. 

English Curriculum

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The subject lead for phonics at Darwen St James is Mrs Gonzalez.

Phonics is one of the most important building blocks when learning how to read. It is the simple matching of written letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes). These are then blended together to read words and, later on, captions and sentences.

We use Letters and sounds as our synthetic phonics scheme. We are currently looking at new schemes to be in place for the start of the new academic year.


What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7.

Traditionally, children were taught letter names like aybeesea from the start. However, letter names don’t always represent their pronunciation – examples include double u or em – and this might confuse children when they try to pronounce words made up of these letters.

The phonic approach encourages us to directly link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes), and to teach children pure sounds like ahbk when encountering the alphabet. So, children learn how to put sounds represented by letters or letter groups (like ch or igh) together to read words in a more straightforward way. This video explains about pure sound pronunciation - 

The relationship between the letter(s) and the sound is called a letter-sound correspondence, also known as a grapheme-phoneme correspondence (or GPC).

How do children learn to read using Letters and Sounds?

The information below outlines the letter-sound correspondences children will learn in different phases. There are a few “tricky words” introduced at each phase.

These words are common and useful for early reading and writing, but children won’t be able to decode them following the phonic rules taught up to that point. You can help your child learn them by reading aloud together.

Phase 1 | Phase 2 | Phase 3 | Phase 4 | Phase 5 | Phase 6

Children at Darwen St James' have daily phonics lessons, as part of catch-up children are receiving more phonics practice than normal, both as whole class teaching and through additional tuition and intervention groups.

KS2 children do receive phonics teaching as part of their catch-up, this could be whole class direct teaching and/or intervention groups.

Friday Fun Phonics!

Year 1 held Friday Fun Phonics for the children and parents in Y1 and 2. It was a great opportunity for them to see how phonics is delivered in a fun and inviting way through games and activities. The parents got to find out more informatin about the Phonics Screening Test and where they can access games and activites at home.

Useful Links-

Reading is central to every child’s development

Darwen St James' believes that reading is central to a child’s understanding of the school curriculum and is of vital importance in life. Fluent readers can access a full range of life experiences and can enjoy an amazing breadth of genres and writers.

At Darwen St James', we aim to develop a love and appreciation of reading which will stay with children for life. We hope to achieve this through careful planning and teaching using up-to-date strategies. We aim to use quality reading materials and resources within English lessons and Guided Reading sessions and to provide a breadth and range of reading material across school.



It is our aim to allow children the opportunity:

  • To experience reading in a variety of situations so that it becomes a pleasurable & productive experience.

  • To access a wide range of print materials, including all genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays & pupils own writing.

  • To progress to becoming selective in their choice of reading materials.

  • To be knowledgeable about the purpose and organisation of books.

  • To nurture a love of reading.

  • To learn to read through a variety of methods.

  • To read to themselves or to others (peers and adults)

  • To read to a variety of audiences and to hear adults and children read to them.

  • To read regularly and to develop a respect for books.

  • To receive reading provision and support appropriate to individual ability.

  • To become aware of the link between reading and writing.

  • To use ICT to further the development and love of reading.


The classroom environment

Each class has a dedicated reading area which includes a variety of class books (Fiction and non-Fiction) which the children can choose and read for pleasure. These appeal to different genders and also reluctant readers. The books in these areas are changed every term so that the children can read fresh and exciting books. We also supplement our reading areas with books from our school and local library. 

The teaching of reading

There are two distinct but related processes involved in teaching children to read: learning to read words and developing language comprehension. Both are essential for learning to read.

Developing word recognition and language comprehension skills

In the Foundation Stage and KS1 the priority is given to securing the development of word recognition skills

Children are taught:

  • grapheme-phoneme (letter/sound) correspondences (the alphabetic principle) in a clearly defined, incremental sequence.

  • to apply the highly important skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in order, all through a word to read it.

  • to apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell them.

  • that blending and segmenting are reversible processes.

  • to achieve this there is high quality teaching of Phonics.

  • Children continue phonics in Year 3 and beyond if they need too, this is carried out as intervention groups in addition to their spellings.
  • Children from Year 2 have daily Guided Reading sessions with quality texts from Big Cat Books
  • Children have the matched texts to their reading age/phonics stage for home reading, which are regularly changed
  • Children have a weekly visit to the school library to take a book of their choice home for enjoyment.
  • Weekly comprehension lessons are taught from Year 2 to develop understanding of the text.
  • Each class enjoy regular class novel time with their teacher. 
  • Independent reading is encouraged daily .
  • 1-1 reading is a key priority in KS1 and Reception.
  • The use of quality texts/reading materials throughout the wider curriculum is vital for children to apply their reading skills. This is enabled through offering many opportunities for reading through out the whole curriculum.

World Book Day - Thursday 4th March 2021


Reception - The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Reception class built some bridges for the three billy goats to cross.

Key Stage 1- The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig

Year 1 and 2 had to build a house that the wolf cannot blow down!

Year 1 - World Book Day 2021

Year 2 - World Book Day 2021

Year 3 - Jack and the Baked Bean Stalk

Year 3 had to protect the egg!  They had to drop an  egg from a height without it breaking!

Year 4 - Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel are trapped in the witch’s house. Year 4 had to help them escape by parachuting a map into the house.

Year 5 made book characters from potatoes

Year 1 Frog Facts

Year 1 have been learning some facts about frogs that they can use in their information poster.

Today we pretended to be news reporters,  talking about frogs.


Reception Class

Year 1

In Year 1 we have been reading ‘Lost and Found’ by Oliver Jeffers.  We’ve really enjoyed listening to the story and retelling it using our story maps to help us.  We’ve also written character profiles of the boy.  In our writing we’ve been focussing on using capital letters, finger spaces and full stops.  We’ve also really tried to use the letters we know to write each word.

Year 2

The children in Year 2 are completing a unit about Stories with Familiar Settings, focusing on the text ‘The Pirates Next Door’ by Jonny Duddle.

The children have spent time rehearsing the text focusing on key words and phrases, asking and answering questions, making predictions and sequencing the story.

They will create their own story map using new vocab, words and ideas then orally rehearse it before writing their story using sentences with capital letters, full stops, question marks and the joining words and / but.

Year 3


Year 4

In Year 4 we have been reading the fairy tale of The Pied Piper. We enjoyed discussing the theme of revenge and whether the Pied Piper was a kind, helpful person or a nasty, evil person. We have also written our own versions of the Pied Piper changing the town, the problem and the characters. In one of our lessons we enjoyed using the skill of Point and Evidence. This means we make a point (what we think) and then back it up with evidence (why we think this). It was really good to hear everyone’s different points and again we had a very interesting discussion about the character of the Pied Piper.

Year 5

In year 5 we have been focusing our work around the book ‘Outlaw’ by Michael Morpurgo, which is based around the legend of Robin Hood. We have been working towards writing a narrative based on the first couple of chapters of the book. The children have used role play to infer about the main character (Robin)’s feelings as he looses his mother and then his father is captured. 

Year 6

In English Year 6 are learning about biographies.  They have looked at the features of a biography, broken down into what is included in an introduction, the main body and the conclusion.  The children have also been learning how to skim and scan a text for key information, and to take notes.  They will be gathering content to write a biography all about Mary Anning, and will be using their learnt skills to independently write a biography about Charles Darwen, which will tie in with their science work

Reception Class have been working hard on their letter formation and name writing this half term. We practise every day.
We have been reading Owl Babies and learning how to sequence a story.

Year 1 really enjoyed their visit to the local library.  We met the friendly staff who  talked to us about the books and told us how to select a book to borrow.  We listened to an exciting story and then had the chance to look around and read some books.

Before we went back to school, we all chose a book each and carried them back to school.




Year 2 have been learning about Instructions and focused on the game Hopscotch. They followed a set of instructions and learned how to play the game, they also looked at key features of instructions, including bossy verbs and writing in order. The children finished the unit by designing and writing a set of instructions for their own Hopscotch game -The Mixed up Challenge. 

They have also been looking at the story ‘Dougal’s Deep Sea Diary’ and focusing on using ‘when’ for subordination of time. They have been a TV reporter and written about Dougal’s discovery and written a postcard to his cousin Bob. They finished the unit by planning and writing their own story ‘Dougal’s Space Holiday’.