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English Curriculum Design

Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while. 

Malorie Blackman



At Thorpe Willoughby, our English Curriculum is designed to feed children's imaginations, create a sense of curiosity and wonder; bringing language a literature alive! We view the teaching of English as a fundamental part of the development of each child, fostering positive behaviours and attitudes towards learning as well as providing key knowledge and skills which last pupils throughout their education and beyond.


We recognise reading as being a key element to all learning so, at Thorpe Willoughby, it is our aim to ensure that all children succeed in this area. We have designed our new curriculum to reflect this aim by immersing our children in a wide range of high quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts which allow children to lose themselves in words. We intend that by offering this variety and passion towards literature, it will not only widen children’s knowledge and understanding but also allow all children to ‘find’ their own love of reading.


We have high expectations of our learners and place reading as a priority; encouraging children to read regularly and widely, for the purpose of both learning and enjoyment.  Our new curriculum aims to challenge, inspire and motivate children to become fluent, confident readers as well as building the skills, knowledge and understanding that quality literature brings. Providing a language-rich curriculum is a key priority here at Thorpe Willoughby CP School. This is to ensure our children expand and develop their vocabulary to become effective communicators.


Throughout school, our half-termly themes are driven by high-quality novels and texts to inspire both reading and writing. These themes create genuine learning experiences to connect with texts immersing themselves in the written word and widening their vocabulary. Our novels and supplementary texts are carefully selected and varied to offer all children chances to read classics, modern literature, books by well-known, lesser-known as well as up-and-coming authors. We regularly use quality non-fiction texts to feed our children’s thirst for knowledge and support their writing across the curriculum.


Our English curriculum aims to develop children’s understanding of significant people, places and events.  We also choose texts that give children historical and geographical knowledge of significant people and historical events which supports writing across the curriculum. In addition, texts and poetry with ethical themes are also selected to support children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Challenging themes are explored through texts and poems which allow children to question, debate, challenge and consider their own reactions and viewpoints. We read these through a shared understanding of our school values.


What English Looks Like at Thorpe Willoughby

At our Foundation Stage, we teach Reception-aged children reading through the Early Years Foundation Stage ensuring we meet the high standards of the Statutory Framework requirements. We also use the Development Matters non-statutory guidance to further support and develop our practice and delivery of our Communication and Language and Literacy curriculum for children in our Reception classes.


This supports the development and progression of Communication and Language and Literacy when entering the next phase of their school journey. Our curriculum is then developed around the Primary National Curriculum, England for Key Stages 1 & 2. We follow the National Curriculum programmes of study, which ensures consistency and progression across school.



Quality phonics teaching and learning is a key priority at Thorpe Willoughby School and one we recognise as paramount to children progressing to be confident and fluent readers and learners. 


To deliver high-quality phonics teaching and learning, we use the newly developed Rocket Phonics which compliments our whole school reading scheme Rising Stars Reading Planet Scheme. Rocket Phonics is a new programme launched in 2021.


Please click the link below to find out more about our phonics scheme, Rocket Phonics:


To start the reading journey and embed essential early reading skills for children in our Early Years and Key Stage 1, we have invested significantly in new reading books from the Rising Stars Reading Planet Scheme


Please click the link below to find out more about our reading scheme, Reading Planet:


Our Reading Scheme:

  • Our chosen reading scheme is high-quality, current and engaging. We use the Rising Stars Reading Planet Scheme. This is a phonetic and progressive reading scheme throughout the school from Reception to Year 6 which includes both fiction and non-fiction reading books.
  • All children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 have two reading books. One book is an individual reading book from our school reading scheme as well as a ‘free-choice’ book from either the classroom reading area or the school library. 
  • For children in EYFS and KS1, we use a ‘3 Read Approach’ when children read their school reading scheme book. The ‘3 Read Approach’ requires children to read the same book three times to ensure they practise and develop decoding, fluency and comprehension skills.
  • The ‘3 Read Approach’ may also be used for children in Lower Key Stage 2 when appropriate. 
  • Children in Lower Key Stage 2 have two reading books. One book is an individual reading book from our school reading scheme as well as a ‘free-choice’ book from either the classroom reading area or the school library. The ‘3 Read Approach’ may also be used for children in Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4) when appropriate. 
  • Children in Upper Key Stage 2 have at least one reading book. This may be a school reading scheme book or a ‘free-choice’ reading book where appropriate. For children who have a school reading scheme book, they also have a ‘free-choice’ book to promote reading for pleasure.


Our Reading Curriculum:

  • A love of reading is actively promoted. Children are actively encouraged to read for pleasure by choosing books (fiction, poetry and non-fiction) of their choice to read at school and at home. Every classroom has a dedicated reading area and we have a central school library to encourage wider reading opportunities and reading for pleasure.
  • In Early Years reading sessions, children share a whole class text. These sessions teach reading skills. In addition, children are taught reading skills in guided groups with fully decodable books which align to the phonics teaching and learning sequence.
  • In Early Years, children experience a wide range of books, rhymes and information texts which link to their learning. 
  • In Key Stage 1, there are at least 6 core high-quality texts that children read over the academic year. These are used in our reading lessons.
  • In Lower Key Stage 2 & Upper Key Stage 2 there are 6 core high-quality texts that children read over the academic year; one per half-term. These are used in our reading lessons.
  • Children read and respond to texts in daily whole-class reading sessions focusing on specific reading skills e.g. retrieval, inference, word-meaning in context.
  • Daily reading sessions have a vocabulary focus where new vocabulary and word-meaning in contexts are discussed and explored.
  • Children learn about significant people, places and events within our text choices. These support and embed our school values.




At Thorpe Willoughby CP School, we have recently introduced Letter-Join to deliver our cursive handwriting style. 


For our Reception-aged children, emphasis is placed on developing fine motor skills in order to establish an effective pencil grip and correct letter formation. At this stage, children practise and use a printed style as recommended by the DfE Phonics Validation Guidance (April 2021) and our Phonics Programme (Rocket Phonics) to support their learning in phonics. 


Children in Key Stage 1 work towards using a fully cursive handwriting style by the end of Year 2. This is continued and fully established and embedded for children in Key Stage 2. Our handwriting style is an expectation across all curriculum areas.


Within our Handwriting Curriculum, we ensure:

  • Handwriting is taught as a discrete daily lesson in all phases using the Letter-join Programme
  • Children in Reception are taught pre-cursive patterns to develop control and build towards correct letter formation.  
  • Children in Year 1 progress from the printed style with no-lead entry strokes towards using a lead-in entry stroke. During Year 1, children may be ready to progress to the fully cursive joined script using lead-in entry lines.
  • Children in Year 2, work towards using the fully cursive joined script using lead-in entry lines.
  • Children in Key Stage 2 write with a fully cursive joined style as introduced in Year 2. Developing fluency, stamina and speed is a priority in Key Stage 2.
  • A range of appropriate handwriting activities are provided for children in all phases including fine and gross motor skills exercises, using pencils, pens to practice letter formation and words, online activities using iPads to trace letter formation, sentence dictation exercises as well as handwriting practice exercises practising spelling patterns.
  • Children who have specific needs have appropriate adaptations made to their teaching and learning of handwriting.



Writing opportunities are immersive throughout our curriculum themes and are directly linked to our reading curriculum. Our class novels and texts provide the stimulus and context to write across different text-types for many purposes. We endeavour to provide stimulating writing opportunities to inspire children to write for a variety of audiences and purposes. We use visitors into school and visits out of school to provide real experiences for children to write about. In addition, a variety of stimuli such as artefacts, film and animations, books and drama are used to enthuse and motivate children. 


We place importance on ensuring children in each phase have opportunities to practise each stage of their writing process from planning, drafting, editing, proofreading and performing their written work.


Within our Writing Curriculum, we ensure:

  • Children have opportunities to write for real purposes and have real audiences.
  • Children have opportunities to write across the three different genres: narrative, non-fiction and poetry. 
  • Our writing ‘Working Walls’ support children with the writing process and vocabulary. 
  • Teachers demonstrate and ‘live-model’ the writing process for children. 
  • Daily writing sessions have a clear vocabulary focus.
  • Children have opportunities to practise using the appropriate statutory spelling lists/common exception words in their independent writing.
  • Grammar and punctuation is practised within the writing curriculum and links directly to the text-type children are writing.