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Speaking and Listening

At Castlefort, we believe that an effective focus on speaking and listening not only supports pupils’ learning, but also enables them to develop a wide range of essential skills, such as working as a group, listening and responding to others, discussing, negotiating, expressing ideas, explaining and describing.


Speaking and listening is taught throughout the curriculum. Our pupils are taught to be independent thinkers and expressive philosophers. Through our ‘Votes for Schools’ programme, we actively teach the children to think for themselves and form their own opinions on topical issues. Children are expected to express their opinions, giving reasons for their way of thinking, and debate real-life scenarios. Our creative curriculum facilitates opportunities for pupils to learn, express and explain their newly acquired knowledge to others.


By developing our pupils’ ability to listen well, we simultaneously develop our children’s ability to become independent learners, as by hearing accurately, they are much more likely to be able to reproduce accurately, refine their understanding of grammar and develop their own vocabulary.



Phonics and Reading

We teach phonics through a daily session with attainment groups using ‘Letters and Sounds’ (Nursery) and the ‘Read, Write, Inc’ programme (EYFS and KS1). The core reading scheme in school is Collins ‘Big Cat’ and this includes a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. More confident readers are able to choose from class readers and our well-stocked library. Pupils are encouraged to read daily at home and this is monitored through a home/school reading diary. Interventions are provided for under-achieving pupils. These include Read, Write, Inc one-to-one catch up, guided reading groups and Nessy online programmes. We also subscribe to the Oxford Reading Buddy service which allows pupils to access hundreds of differentiated texts at home.


Reading and Writing

At Castlefort, we aim to produce independent writers who leave primary education feeling confident in both transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). We believe that opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arise naturally from their reading. We therefore insist that for each creative curriculum topic taught, there is always at least one high-quality linked text. Using this text, we aim to teach our pupils new skills, whilst simultaneously improving their reading comprehension. As the vocabulary becomes increasingly more challenging, our teachers will show our pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. Where possible, work relating to spelling, punctuation and grammar is taught alongside the topics, through an appropriate context.


To read more about how reading is taught at Castlefort, please take a moment to read the leaflet below...

Cross-Curricular Writing

Writing opportunities are given throughout the school day in both their English lessons, as well as in their Cornerstones curriculum. We aim to teach our pupils the skills of composition not only through our dedicated English lessons but also through cross-curricular writing. We believe that effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. We believe It is important that our pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching. Throughout the school, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing using the acronyms CUPS (capitals, verb usage, punctuation and spellings) and ARMS (add, remove, move and substitute). Pupils are also taught to control their speaking and writing consciously, and to use both ‘Non-Standard’ and ‘Standard’ forms of English.


Classic Fiction and Poetry

As well as teaching written skills through modern literature, we also believe there remains a place for teaching classic fiction. Once a year, the whole school chooses a classic novel to study and students complete written tasks around this text. Poetry is also held with high regard.  When children are listening to poems being read orally, they are building their listening skills. A poem can be used to teach sentence structure, parts of speech, and many grammatical skills. We therefore hold an annual poetry week to celebrate the importance of poetry in today’s modern world. Through the school year, we also hold termly experiential writing days where the whole school come together to write on the same topic. These events are well planned and resourced to inspire the students to write for a purposeful real-life context.


The school has achieved the Basic Skills National Quality Mark in recognition of its provision for English - The school is continuing to develop a balanced curriculum that encourages all the children to become independent learners and continues to function in a calm and ordered manner, where learning is fun for the pupils, but achievement paramount (November 2017)


To read more about how the English curriculum is organised and which books are taught in each year group, please read the English Long term Plan below...




Here at Castlefort JMI School, we are very proud of our pupils' handwriting and take particular care in our cursive/joined-up handwriting style. We now use Letter-Join as the basis of our handwriting policy that covers all the requirements of the National Curriculum.


Handwriting is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. At the end of Key Stage 2, all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and eventually, speedy, joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes. We aim to make handwriting an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking.


As a catalyst to speedy handwriting, we encourage parents and carers to use the Letter-Join resources which will become available soon to access at home. To download the current letter formation alphabet. please click on the 'Handwriting Formations' document below. Please also note the new handwriting policy which has come into effect in September 2016.

To learn more about how we teach English, please read our English policy below