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Tomorrow’s success starts today
Home Page


Tomorrow’s success starts today


English at Willowcroft

Overall aims:


At Willowcroft we place the highest emphasis on literacy skills to enable our children to express themselves confidently and effectively within school and beyond.  Our curriculum enables them to explore new ideas and situations, form opinions and speak clearly and appropriately, as well as listening carefully. Together with a focus on developing a rich vocabulary, this will equip them to speak and write with a confident, articulate voice. As they move through school they will increasingly be able to consider and adapt their writing style and vocabulary to suit their audience.



In short, we strive for Willowcroft pupils to:

  • read and write for pleasure with confidence, fluency and understanding;
  • be able to orchestrate a full range of reading cues (phonic, graphic, syntactic, contextual) to readi fluenty [sic] and correct their own mistakes;
  • understand and recall our chosen sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately;
  • develop fluent and legible handwriting, print then cursive;
  • have an interest in words and their meanings to develop a growing vocabulary;
  • be familiar with, understand and be able to write in a range of genres, including non-fiction, fiction and poetry.
  • increasingly develop an awareness of audience when writing.
  • understand the purpose and skills for planning, drafting, editing and revising their writing to the point of publishing.
  • develop a technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing;
  • develop knowledge of a growing range of authors and texts individually and as part of a reading community.
  • enjoy listening to/reading a range of texts 'actively - able to identify the thoughts and opinions of the author as well as evaluating and justifying their own response and engaging with those of their peers and teachers.  
  • through reading and writing, develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
  • feel increasingly confident and competent in the skills and practice of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. 





'When we read together, we are taken out of our aloneness.

Together, we see the world.

Together, we see one another. We connect.

And when we connect, we are changed'.

Best selling author, Kate DiCamillo 

Early Reading: 

Being able to read is a cornerstone skill for children's academic progress and future life successes. It is our aim to provide a rigorous, stimulating start to every child's early reading development.

Reading begins by establishing a love of books and the phonics skills to access them. All children are taught phonics daily in nursery, F1 and KS1, using the principles of the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme to learn phonetic sounds to blend and segment words. An important part of our phonics lessons is paired reading of decodable texts, providing context for learning.  

You can find phonics progression information below, but although we aim for children to finish formal phonics learning by the end of KS1 we recognise that some children will need further support and lessons will continue into KS2 as required.

Practice is the only way to become a fluent reader and to support children in this we use mainly Oxford Reading Tree books which are colour-coded for levels of difficulty. Teachers hear children in their class read regularly to monitor progress and will inform parents as they move through the book bands.

Parents as partners:

However, it is vital to practice as often as possible and we strive to encourage and support parents to think of themselves as partners in their children's reading journey. Pupils who read at home as well as at school make noticeably more rapid progress than those who don't.


Reading for pleasure:

Children who love books will want to learn to read and it is one of our primary aims to nurture this love  and enjoyment of exploring books. As well as entertainment, books play an important role in exposing children to experiences, characters and situations beyond those they might encounter in their own lives. This develops empathy and adds to the bank of knowledge and ideas that they can draw on to make sense of life, as well as for use in their own writing.

Children are read to at every stage of their school lives and are encouraged and given many opportunities to retell stories they have heard, enjoying the wide range of rich vocabulary and expression.

30 Top Reads:

A popular resource in every year group is the collection of 30 Top Reads, carefully chosen to introduce a range of authors and styles. See the Powerpoint below for more information about the collections and how we make the most of them.


We are proud to have a dedicated librarian who co-ordinates library visits for each class, from Nursery to Year 6, and liaises with teachers to link library sessions with their wider learning. She gets to know children's literary likes and dislikes and works to support and develop their reading journeys.

Mrs Kent is also involved in our drive to encourage both reluctant and able readers with initiatives such as visits from a Reading Dog and a lunchtime book club.

World Book Day is always an event at Willowcroft with children dressing up as favourite book characters, classes creating 'book doors' of chosen texts, and visits from famous names such as singer/songwriter Nick Cope.


Active Reading: 

Finally, in a multi-media world we believe that it is important to learn how to respond critically as well as emotionally to texts of many kinds. Guided Reading lessons and 'Book Talk' teach the skills of reading 'actively', engaging children in discussions and activities that support them to think more deeply about what they read and develop their thoughts and opinions.


Writing is given a high profile from the earliest days at Willowcroft. From Nursery onwards we provide multiple opportunities for children to write independently. Development of good fine motor control is encouraged through activities and guidance, beginning in Foundation, as it is a vital skill for presentation and comfort in writing.


Cursive writing is taught from Year 2, when children have mastered print formation, and will continue lessons to develop a consistent, legible style throughout Key Stage 2.


Our curriculum supports our belief that children should see purpose to develop their writing skills.  A cross-curricular approach supports this, with some English writing tasks embedded in, for example, science as instructions to perform a procedure, or geography as a non-chronological report about the Arctic. Inspiration and modelling of style and structure is provided by high quality texts that form a key resource of every writing unit.


Our Writing Learning Journey, followed by Years 1-6, guides children through the acquisition of contextual information and understanding and rich language to write confidently about a subject. We are committed to achieving this through engaging and stimulating activities such as drama, storytelling and discussion that delve deep to understand both fiction and non-fiction genres, and develop spoken and written language. Children then focus on developing their craft as authors, learning technical and editing skills, before having time to reflect on the effectiveness of what they have produced and finally celebrating its publishing.


We place importance on children's awareness of the need for good spelling, punctuation and grammar in their writing, and their ability to recall or seek resources to help them spell when writing. Spelling and grammar are taught as discrete lessons each week, with the Read Write Inc. spelling programme in place from years 2-6.  However, they are embedded continually throughout the curriculum each day, with children encouraged to apply their knowledge. 


Top tips to support great writing


  • Learn by heart to spell as many common exception words for each year group as you can.
  • Read LOTS and choose different genres and authors to expose yourself to a rich vocabulary.
  • Always check the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases.
  • Try out new words and phrases you’ve found when you talk or write.



  • Read a range of authors to experience different styles of writing.
  • Read out loud noticing the effect of punctuation on how you speak the words.
  • Notice how authors’ choice of words to describe people, places and actions affect how you think and feel about them.
  • Look carefully at WAGOLL (What a Good One Looks Like) texts to see how they use skills that you are learning.


  • Read a wide range of books and enjoy hundreds of experiences, situations and characters without even moving from your chair!
  • Recall your own experiences and feelings and people you know of.
  • Use your knowledge from films, plays or topics at school.
  • Magpie some ideas from texts you’ve enjoyed.



  • A good handwriting grip and technique makes it more comfortable to write AND makes your writing more legible.
  • Practising writing every day will build up stamina.




Phonics is a foundation stone of reading, providing children with the tools to decode the written English language.

At Willowcroft, children begin learning phonics at Nursery stage, developing awareness of sounds in their environment.

In Foundation they will begin to learn to recognise the names of the letters in the alphabet, the sounds that they make and how to form (print) the letters, beginning and ending in the correct place. They will begin to learn the sounds that combinations of letters (digraphs and trigraphs) make and use them to decode (segment words) to read, as well as blending some to write words. 


In Years 1 and 2 they will continue to learn the sounds that blends of letters make and how to read and write them, as well as alternative blends for sounds that can be found in English words.

The national Phonics Screening Check takes place in June each year. To minimise stress, the children are well prepared for the test and it is carried out in the familiar environment of school by familiar teachers. The pass rate is set each year by the Government and children who do not pass will repeat the test in Year 2.


We recognise that children develop phonic confidence and reading at different rates and regularly assess them to ensure they are in the correct teaching group.  This also helps early identification of children who may need additional intervention to support their progress.

Children who are confident in phonics in Key Stage 1 will move on to our spelling scheme. Children who still need to consolidate phonics when they begin Key Stage 2 will continue with small group phonics until they are ready.

We believe the most effective way for children to develop use of phonics in their reading and writing is to teach it in discrete lessons that include opportunities to see it in action.  Therefore, our phonics lessons include sections to apply learning by reading real decodable texts and writing words and sentences.


The phonics language used at Willowcroft is Read Write Inc. which uses rhymes and pictures to support recollection of letters and combinations of letters (digraphs and trigraphs). This language is consistent from Foundation to Year 6 and is used by all staff (along with table resources and displays) to support children's reading and writing across the curriculum, building a familiarity that helps develop independent learning.





        Interventions for Reading and Writing used at Willowcroft


We are delighted to welcome a reading dog into school each week to read with some children. Through the year, we also run reading groups to broaden children's reading experiences.


Reading and/or writing difficulties can have many causes and teachers and support staff are skilled at identifying children who may need interventions or specialist support and liaising with our SENCO to find the best cause of action.


Our main school interventions are:



Key Stage



Project X Code



Key Stage One







Key Stage One


Reading and writing


Direct Phonics



Key Stage One/Two




Precision Teaching



Key Stage One and Two




Write Away Together


Key Stage Two




Hi Five



Key Stage Two


Reading and writing


World Book Day Decorated Doors

There is a world of armchair adventure waiting when you read a wide genre of books. Check out the variety to choose from...