Willowbrook Students Working Together in Class



At Willowbrook Primary School, we make the teaching of English the foundation of our curriculum.

Our belief is that speaking and listening, reading and writing are the keys to all learning and our ability to being understood. We are determined to help our children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, to support and enhance their thinking and understanding of the world around them through a broad, rich and engaging English curriculum.

The Willowbrook English curriculum also gives children the opportunity to further develop and understand our key values: resilience, aspiration, pride, positivity, empathy and respect. Through the teaching and learning of English, and an exposure to a language-rich environment, our students learn about themselves, their values, and their rights and responsibilities. We place books, vocabulary and reading at the heart of everything we do, as tools to gain knowledge and develop emotional literacy.

Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes primary literate and progresses in speaking and listening, reading and writing. We mindfully endeavour to ensure that children develop a lifelong, healthy and enthusiastic attitude towards English, to equip our students with the necessary skills and passion to support them in their forthcoming secondary education.


At Willowbrook, we use the 2014 National Curriculum and the 2023 Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for directing the teaching of English. It underpins the whole of the curriculum, as the children develop their English skills in all subjects and lessons.

For phonics, we follow a government validated systematic approach using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Through this rigorous and consistent approach, each grapheme is introduced clearly; a focus is placed on blending to read and segmenting to spell. This provides children with the skills they need to begin to read words, captions and whole sentences as soon as possible. The teaching of phonics begins in Reception, and teaching continues daily to at least the point where children can read almost all words fluently.

Right from Reception through to Year 2, children practise reading using decodable books that are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge. Our children reread the same text multiple times to develop their comprehension and fluency which includes their accuracy, automaticity (rapid recall of whole known words) and prosody (reading with expression). Alongside their independent reading of decodable books, our pupils have daily story time and share books across the curriculum to ensure they develop a true love of reading. This is evident in the books they bring home: a reading practice book for them to read fluently and a sharing book for families to read together.

As soon as children master the alphabetic code and can read fluently then, in Year 2, they begin daily guided reading lessons. This whole-class session ensures that reading is explicitly taught using ambitious texts which enhance our wider curriculum. Within these lessons, time is also taken to explicitly teach vocabulary encountered in our reading, to enable our students to learn a variety of words and increase their own, overall comprehension of a text. We have developed our own book spine to ensure the children encounter high-quality, challenging and diverse books. Our story time sessions ensure the children are read to everyday and share, discuss and enjoy the endless possibilities of books. We leave nothing to chance: we are dedicated to ensuring that our students get a rich diet of literature and books choices are reviewed regulatory to using the best possible texts.

When children are fluent readers, we then encourage and support them to make their own, informed reading choices for their independent reading book. We ensure that our class libraries have a range of age-appropriate literature.  We ensure our children have access to a wide range of authors, illustrators, genres, subject matter and formats to appeal them and provide a wide-range of reading experiences. It is through empowering our children to make their own choices, that we enhance the culture of reading for pleasure at Willowbrook.

In writing, we follow units from The Write Stuff.  Our units have two components. Firstly, in our sentence stacking lessons, we start by initiating our thinking and generating our ideas for writing. Over the course of the unit, the class co-construct a text and the children develop their understanding of its key components. In this first phase, the children are guided and supported, with vocabulary and ideas at the heart of every learning chunk. It is here where the majority of our punctuation and grammar teaching also happens, all in context. The second phase is when the children apply the skills they have developed to their own independent text. Once this independent piece is completed, it is in this second stage of writing that the children are given time and taught the skills to edit and improve their work.

Our writing curriculum develops progressively and ensures that children are taught how to write narrative, poetry and range of non-fiction texts. Our children revisit and consolidate their skills through different units and our daily writing lessons are enhanced with short spelling, punctuation and grammar sessions throughout the week to ensure the children know, and can apply, those key elements of writing.

Children are also explicitly taught spelling in KS2 and handwriting in every year group. When the children are confident with the alphabetic code through Little Wandle, then they continue to use their phonic knowledge and transfer these skills to spelling lessons which focus on morphology and etymology. In Reception, children focus on forming their letters and numbers accurately, with the correct pencil grip, and then begin to learn joining in Year 1. By the end of Year 2, our children should have a comfortable and joined handwriting style. We use Letter-Join to ensure our teaching of handwriting is progressive and comprehensive, but also that it complements the letter formation taught through phonics.


The impact of our English curriculum on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning, and reading and writing skills that can be used for lifelong learning.   With the implementation of the literacy journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident readers and writers and, by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them, and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.

In order to measure the impact of our curriculum effectively, we use a two-tier approach to assessment. Firstly, teachers use a range of strategies to take a snapshot of learning within the lessons and then adapt subsequent sessions and learning experiences accordingly so that all children make progress. Secondly, through summative assessments, we make more formal record of the children’s learning against age-related expectations and exemplification materials. We use NFER assessments, and the end of KS2 SATs, to monitor the children learning against national standards and expectations.

By having such a continuous cycle of assessment, we can ensure that we meet our ambitions and that children leave us with the skills, passion and knowledge necessary to continue to excel in their secondary education. We hope that, as children move on from us to further their education and learning, that their creativity, high aspirations and passion for English travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.