Helmsley Community Primary School

Your new design will be uploaded in:
Please contact Delivery Team on
0113 3200 750 if you have any queries.


At Helmsley Primary School we believe that English encompasses essential life skills and, through our curriculum we aim to inspire and develop our children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. This will enable pupils to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language, thus equipping them with the skills to become lifelong learners.

 Here at Helmsley Primary School, we are dedicated to providing engaging experiences in English which enhance and develop our children’s knowledge and skills. We use The Write Stuff approach in writing which is centred around teacher modelling and scaffolding. In early reading and phonics, we make use of the synthetic phonics programme Read Write Inc. As pupils progress into independent reading, we deliver whole class reading sessions centred on discussion. These cover the key assessment focuses and develop pupil understanding of vocabulary. We teach spellings through focus phonemes which build on prior knowledge. As pupils progress through Helmsley School, we encourage and teach a continuous cursive style of handwriting. For more information about the different elements of English, please click on the links below.

At Helmsley Community Primary School we aim to develop the full potential of all our pupils as confident, literate readers and writers. If children are to develop as competent readers and writers, it is vitally important that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach.  

In Key Stage One and Early Years, pupils receive a daily phonics session where decoding and work on sight words happen. We follow the Read Write Inc. scheme which is an integrated approach to teaching phonics, reading, writing, handwriting and spelling. The majority of our children have completed the programme by the end of Year 1 and there is a structure in place for those children who need more teaching in Year 2 and above. You can find out lots more about Read Write Inc. at the following website.  


You can also find out how to make sure that you are saying the sounds purely, which is how we teach phonics at school:  




At our school we follow the Read Write Inc phonics programme from Foundation Stage, through KS1 and into KS2 if appropriate. Through the programme the children learn the 40+ phonemes which include the alternative pronunciation of sounds. The children become skilled at blending for reading and segmenting to aid spelling as well as learning to read and spell the common exception words.  Read Write Inc may also be used to support children in Key Stage 2 as part of timetabled intervention.  

The programme is carefully structured with each part of the phonics lesson having a specific purpose. The phonics sessions are fast paced and encourage the children’s constant participation and engagement, resulting in high-quality phonic work on a daily basis. A great deal of positive praise is used and children use different methods to learn to sound out (decode) words for reading and segment (encode) words for spelling. This helps teachers ensure that by the end of Key Stage 1, children develop fluent word reading skills and good foundations in spelling.  


All pupils are assessed at appropriate intervals (half termly) as they progress. During daily sessions of phonics there are also opportunities for practitioners to regularly assess children’s understanding.  Outside the discrete daily phonics sessions there are opportunities to observe the application of phonic skills, e.g. during guided/shared reading.  

Regular monitoring of the assessment outcomes allows teachers to ensure that all children are making expected progress, including children in the most vulnerable groups. This information is also used to identify children who are not making expected progress and therefore early intervention can be put in place.  


Every Year 1 child in the Summer term will take a Phonics Screening Check. This is a phonics-based check where children will be expected to read 40 simple, decodable words including nonsense words. This is a progress check to identify those children not at expected level in their reading. The results will be reported to parents as well as the local authority. Children will be rechecked in Year 2 if they do not reach the expected level. Any child working below the level of the screen check may be disapplied, with the acknowledgement of the parent/carer.  


Through careful monitoring and tracking, teachers are able to identify children who are not making the expected progress and therefore need intervention to catch up. Depending on the needs of individuals, this may include additional individual or small group tutoring before the lesson or after the main lesson; one to one work with a trained practitioner or extra support for a child or small group of children within a lesson. It is important that children who are struggling to learn to read not only need to catch up with their peers, but also to continue to make progress.  


If children in Key Stage 2 experience difficulty in reading and/or writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of the systematic phonics teaching, additional resources can be used to support them.  


Our aim is that every child’s needs are catered for and is given the chance to succeed and become competent readers. If children are not attaining as expected, due to other difficulties, then it is our duty to put extra intervention in place, to help close the gap and ensure progress is being made.  


Homework is used to support phonics taught in class, through tasks such as:  

  • Practising phonic skills in spelling words 

  • Reading and activities link to reading 

  • Letter formation 


At Helmsley Community Primary School, we believe that the ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners, during their time at school and beyond. Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in all areas of the curriculum; therefore, reading is given a high priority at our school.

At Helmsley Community Primary School we aim to develop the full potential of all our pupils as confident, literate readers and writers. If children are to develop as competent readers and writers, it is vitally important that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach.  

In Key Stage 2, each class will have daily access to a high quality children’s novel which is shared and discussed over the course of a half term. In addition to this we hold whole class reading sessions where shorter texts are accessed on a common theme and pupils are involved in a range of response activities. This may include clarifying unknown words and phrases; inferring and deducting to form an opinion; predicting; explaining authors’ intent; retrieving information; summarising and answering comprehension questions. In whole class reading, there is a high level of interaction between teachers and pupils. Children are exposed to high-quality texts and discussion in an immersive environment. Texts are carefully chosen by teachers to provide appropriate challenge that builds on pupils’ existing knowledge and understanding. 

School Books 

Each classroom has books at their core with a dedicated reading for pleasure area, stocked with a range of books suitable for their age and stage. Children are still able to access the library, enjoy book bag books relevant to their phonetic learning and choose individual texts of their own preference to take home and enjoy. Every child reads daily at school. Whilst individual reading becomes less of a strategy used as pupils’ skills increase, teachers will continue to use their professional judgement to identify those who would benefit from individual reading to a teacher or Teaching Assistant. Pupils may be listened to read in groups. In addition, pupils will be sharing big books, texts and pictures to formulate their reading sessions.   

Home School Link books are a helpful way of recording children’s reading, but also for communication if you spot your child having difficulties or if you want to celebrate successes. For example, they might have completed their first chapter book or have started reading independently at home without prompting from you. As pupils become independent readers able to access a range of texts, they can use the link books to show reading preferences and recommendations. 


We have strong links with our local town library and aim to encourage reading for pleasure by accessing the facilities at the local library. Pupils are encouraged to discuss, select, change and order books according to their reading preferences and attend regular events. 

At Helmsley, all children learn to write through the Write Stuff approach. This was developed by teacher and leading English consultant, Jane Considine. It is a fun, creative and rigorous approach to develop writers.  We start writing from enjoying and sharing books and stories, placing a strong emphasis on a love of literature. Through regular reading, we want children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing and this word collecting is an integral part of the write stuff approach. Children “chot” (chat and jot) down their ideas in the initiate phase from stimulating resources, such as pictures, music and drama. The teacher then models sentence scaffolds taken from the writing rainbow and then pupils have a go at their own sentences, taking the opportunity to deepen the moment. Regular opportunities are taken for children to practise their writing skills independently both in English and across the curriculum. We aim to provide a balance of narrative, non-fiction and poetry throughout each term.  


In Y2-6 pupils have dedicated spelling time in class where we use the resources from the Jane Considine Spelling programme. Time is given to learn these spellings, and these are sent home regularly too. Pupils receive regular quizzes to ascertain their retention of key letter strings, patterns and tricky, age-appropriate vocabulary.    


Letter formation is taught through the Read Write Inc programme initially. We develop a continuous cursive style from Y2 and encourage regular focus  

At Helmsley Primary School, we value Spoken Language as an important part of the children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Spoken Language provides the children with the opportunities to develop and extend skills and an opportunity to express their individual interests, thoughts and ideas. 

Our aim is to enable the children improve their levels of spoken language so that all pupils are able to communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience.  These skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum as good communication skills can enhance every type of learning. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments, as well as talking in full sentences with a clear and confident voice. 

Pupils should be taught to: 

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers 

  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and build vocabulary and knowledge 

  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions 

  • give well-structured descriptions and explanations 

  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments 

  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas 

  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English 

  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances and debates 

  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s) 

  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others 

  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication. 

The teaching and implementation of the Spoken Language curriculum is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum. Staff model the use of higher-level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus in all years. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including new vocabulary in their work. This model is reflected in both shared and guided reading sessions, where children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We are keen to model the correct grammar in speech, for example using ‘we were’ instead of ‘we was’ and encourage children to reflect this in their use of spoken and written language. Children are given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing regularly. 

Drama is used across a range of subjects including History, problem solving in Mathematics, hot-seating during English PSCHE and Religious Education, to explore and engage children in their learning. This gives children the chance to embed the use of specific vocabulary repetitively. Talk partners are used to encourage pupils to practise formulating ideas before sharing them in class. Children should also be taught to use the conventions of speech through debate and discussions in other subjects such as Geography and History. 

At Christmas, EYFS and KS1 children perform their Christmas production to the school while UKS2 produce and lead a production at the end of the academic year. We also participate in events such as Harvest and Easter festivals where children may be encouraged to read aloud. Children also regularly take part in assemblies throughout the year.