The teaching of English unites the elements of Speaking & Listening, Read­ing and Writing into a comprehensive whole. Along with this is the teaching of grammar, spelling and punctuation which further supports reading and writing skills. These skills work together to enable communication, the key to all learning. Wherever possible we link subjects and use a topic based approach. English integrates with all other aspects of the curriculum i.e. writing work could be for some work on history. All aspects of the English curriculum play a vital part in other sub­jects as well as being taught separately.

As soon as children start school we help them to speak confidently and to express their thoughts clearly. At the same time they are encouraged to listen with proper attention and have the necessary skills to understand what is being said by others. We are aware that some child­ren need very special help in this field. Language plays an important part in the intellectual, social, personal and aesthetic development of children. Throughout the school we give our children opportunities to develop all their language skills through narratives, poetry, non-fiction and plays amongst other genre. We take part in the annual North Yorkshire Schools debating competition and learn and perform poetry. The children are also given many opportunities throughout their time with us to act and perform in a whole range of situations.

Children are encouraged in a love of books and reading from the moment they enter school. We provide a large and varied selection of books in the classrooms and school libraries, we also encourage parents and pupils to use the local library and enjoy books at home. Children are encouraged to take part in the local library holiday reading challenges and school organises book fairs at least twice a year. As well as this we celebrate World Book day, offer a reading club for KS2 pupils and make plenty of opportunities throughout the year for pupils to pair up for reading both in their own classes and across the whole school. 

Book day

The more formal process of learning to read continues through use of various core reading schemes. Our main reading scheme is the Oxford Reading Tree, but this is supplemented by a range of materials from various schemes and publishers such as Ginn, Cambridge and Jelly and Bean. Reading materials are organised into book band colours, to give children the opportunity to experience breadth and range of reading materials to develop their reading skills. All our reading resources are carefully chosen to give visual as well as auditory pleasure. Guided Reading materials include published schemes such as National Geographic non-fiction, Ginn Lighthouse as well as Rigby Rockets and many other resources selected for specific learning and needs. To begin with children are very much ‘learning to read’ as they grow and mature this enables them to ‘read to learn’.  We aim that each and every pupil at Riverside reads something EVERY day.

The school has produced a Help Guide for supporting reading at home – this is available BELOW.  

Handwriting is taught with the appropriate seating positions, pencil grips, correct letter formation and Nelson cursive script. This continues to around Year 5 by when a personal style is generally established.

Spelling is initially taught alongside phonics using current sounds and letter patterns.  This later moves on to the key words and common exception words as well as a structured approach with further letter patterns and root words. Last year we won the STAR Alliance inter- school Spelling Bee.We use a scheme called 'No Nonsense Spelling.'

The curriculum for punctuation and grammar also uses a progressive structured approach rising to some exceptional understanding and results in Year 6.

The teaching of children’s writing begins initially using their own experiences from situations they are familiar with in their own lives. As they move through school this progresses to imitating, innovating and inventing around chosen books and texts based on the structure of Talk for Writing. It enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the type of language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. The approach is used predominantly in year 6 however all year groups use these methods to varying extents if teachers feel it is the most effective method for a particular genre.

We also encourage links with professional authors wherever possible. We host a year 6 Able Writers Project for schools in the locality for 3 days each year.

We have high expectations of our children, their progress is tracked on a termly basis and learning is tailored to individual need. We organise ‘intervention groups’ as and when they are necessary. This early intervention results in the achievements of our pupils shown at the end of KS1 and KS2.


Early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. They are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.

We use 'Letters and Sounds' for the teaching and learning of phonics.  This is a structured programme that takes children through their phonics learning. Learning is divided into Phases, starting with Phase 1 (Nursery) through to Phase 6 (Year 2).

Children in Nursery begin with Phase 1 which provides a range of listening activities through play, to develop their listening skills. As children move into Reception they continue to build upon the listening activities and are introduced to Phase 2 which marks the start of systematic phonic work. Phase 3 completes the teaching of the alphabet and then moves on to cover sounds represented by more than one letter, learning one representation for each of the 44 phonemes (sound). When children become secure they continue into Phase 4 where they start to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants (two consonants next to each other, e.g. grab. No new phonemes are introduced during this phase.

It is expected that children will enter Phase 5 as they begin year 1, broadening their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know, where relevant.

It is expected that children entering Year 2 will start Phase 6 which develops a variety of spelling strategies including homophones (word specific spellings) eg see/ sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary. Also the accurate spelling of words containing unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondences e.g. laughs, two. The spelling of common exception words and tricky words are taught continuously throughout the phases.

The following video shows how to pronounce each of the sounds your child will learn.

 Articulation of sounds


Talk for Writing:

Talk for Writing is used in Key Stage 2 to support pupils with their writing. It enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. It is used predominantly in year 6 however all years 3, 4 and 5 also use Talk for Writing as a tool to support pupils’ writing if teachers feel it is the most effective method for a particular genre.




Click on the links below for more information on how we teach phonics:

docxSCUBA reading fans


Here are some of our pupils enjoying World Book Day:



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Contact Us

General queries to:
Mrs J Coates/Mrs J Kavanagh/Mrs V Scoot/Mrs Bain-Mackay - School Administrators
Mrs S Borradaile - School Business Manager

sampleTel:  01937 832 899

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Wetherby Road, Tadcaster
North Yorkshire LS24 9JN


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