English Intent


Our vision, at Barnehurst is to provide children with opportunities to develop their passion and skillset for reading, writing and oracy in a cohesive way. We ensure our children are confident in speaking, reading and writing fluently order to share their ideas and emotions with others. Our children read a range of ambitious texts, fiction, non-fiction and poetry to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live. We believe it is vital that our children are exposed to a range of exemplar texts, from a variety of genres to embed the ambitious vocabulary choices and secure their writing expectations across our curriculum.



We have chosen to use CLUSP to support and structure our reading, writing and spelling curriculum. The reasons for choosing CLUSP include:   



  • It is an ambitious curriculum with a large depth and breadth of literature. These are around a range of reoccurring themes the develop and secure literary schemas. In addition, in reading,  the text choices are progressive both within a year and across the years also providing diversity of literature experiences.
  • A progressive, revisiting curriculum allowing children to embed practiced learning and to then prepare our children for future academic demands. 
  • It has cohesive learning approaches providing clear pedagogical expectations and consistent routines based on current educational research.
  • Lesson plans and resources are designed around ensuring long term learning.





As our curriculum is underpinned by education for global citizenship. Themes that enable our children to reflect and imagine a future that they want to live in, providing a rich range of cultural capital is evident in our chosen texts. Book choices are seen as both a window and a mirror. The window provides opportunities for children to learn about the world and see places never visited or even imagined. The mirror allows for children to see themselves in the books, either as the protagonist or through reflecting on big ethical questions and relevant social issues which will allow them to make better informed choices in their future.



How do we promote SMSC through English?

Throughout children’s time at Barnehurst they will have a range of texts linked to a variety of authors and themes. This rich range ensures that children have opportunities to explore texts  within different cultures and share their own cultural experiences. Children are able to express their feeling and thoughts both in writing and orally, where opportunities for moral issues and unconscious bias can be explored and discussed in a safe and non-judgmental way.

Our curriculum has been designed based on the following educational research:

  • Shanahan and Rasinski - Fluency instruction
  • Rosenshine – Explicit strategy instruction
  • Law et al – Explicit vocabulary instruction
  • Lemov, Didau … - Deep, rich and ambitious texts
  • Pankin and Mayer – Building schema




Writing Implementation

English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.



Across oracy, reading and writing, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Barnehurst in Year 6, the limited vocabulary they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts. We have an  ambitious, fulfilling and rewarding English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading and writing.

Our English curriculum is taught using CUSP (Curriculum by Unity Schools Partnership) resources and further information about the curriculum can be accessed at https://www.unity-curriculum.co.uk/cusp/  


Communication and Oracy

Speaking is at the heart of every learning experience. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. We ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills, knowing this will enable them to lead successful, fulfilled lives.

Early Writing

Throughout the Early Years, children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between each word.  Colourful semantics supports the development of sentence structure.



 Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell plausibly and work towards being accurate.  Children are exposed to a variety of genres initiated by the children’s interests. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and developing sentence structure. Throughout the EYFS environment, children have access to a variety of media to promote and encourage a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.




How We Teach Writing

Our CUSP writing curriculum draws from the depth study of core texts from the literature spine, as well as on taught content from our Global Citizenship goals and our wider curriculum.

Expert subject knowledge is carefully woven into each writing module which gives teachers the opportunity to teach and rehearse key knowledge and skills before applying this learning to meaningful extended outcomes.

The careful architecture of this curriculum ensures that pupils build on prior learning and maximise purposeful curriculum connections to become writers for life.

Within the CUSP curriculum, punctuation and grammar is taught both directly and discreetly with pupils receiving a daily GPS lesson.

Vocabulary is taught alongside direct and explicit teaching of Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary.

From Year 1 to Year 6 each learning sequence follows the same structure:

  • Revisiting prior learning
  • Taught content
  • Opportunities to apply the taught content
  • What Success Looks Like

This is incorporated into the extended cycle for each block:



CUSP Spelling

We use CUSP spelling from Year 1 to Year 6. CUSP Spelling has been purposefully built around the principles of evidence-led practice. This is to ensure that pupils acquire deep knowledge about the English spelling system and that this learning endures. The curriculum is written cumulatively to allow teachers to move backwards and forwards depending on the starting points for their pupils.

CUSP Spelling is a balanced approach, drawing together knowledge about phonics and vocabulary and pairing this with pattern seeking and reasoning. The underpinning principles are:

  • Spelling concepts
  • Pattern seeking
  • High Volume engagement with print
  • Systematic revisiting
  • Additional time given to complex concepts and common errors
  • Zoom in to the composition of words
  • Spelling and word meaning intrinsically linked
  • CUSP principles of instruction

The sequence of a block follows a routine pattern to ensure that both teachers and pupils can become familiar with the rhythm of a unit. This includes direct instruction of key concepts, revisiting of prior knowledge, explicit teaching of reasoning and spelling transfer (the application of spelling knowledge into writing) and a deliberate focus on etymology and morphology.



Children in Year 2 to Year 6 are taught 16 x 2 week blocks. In Year 1 the children will be taught 6 x 2-week blocks. Diagnostic tests are carried out termly, to review the impact of the taught content and guided identification of entry points or targeted support.

A part of the programme is completed at home with a weekly home learning activity. These are handed out on a Friday and must be returned to school by the Wednesday of the following week.




The National Curriculum states that under the transcription dimension of the writing Programmes of Study, ‘Writing depends on fluent, legible and eventually, speedy handwriting.’ ​

With a progressive approach across the school, the aim is to prepare children with all the necessary skills for good, legible, cursive handwriting which they can enjoy learning about - handwriting lessons need to be fun and shouldn't just be about writing.​

For children to join up their handwriting, entry and exits strokes are needed. ​We need to ensure that handwriting is addressed at a young age.

What is continuous cursive handwriting?​

  • Each letter starts on the line.​
  • The child keeps the pencil on the paper for the whole word, giving a very fluent style.​
  • Pupils should eventually develop the ability to produce letters without thinking.​
  • The automatic style releases the brain to concentrate on other ideas i.e. spelling, grammar, syntax, style and content.​

At Barnehurst, our children take pride in the presentation of their work and understand the importance of clear and neat presentation in order to communicate clearly. We intend for our pupils have a neat and legible style with correctly formed letters and understand the impact clear and neat writing has on a reader. Through a systematic teaching sequence, our children produce letters automatically within their independent writing with good flow and speed. Through structured handwriting practice children develop coherence and continuity in their learning.  

We do this by:

  • Ensuring children are ready to write - starting in our early years
  • Teaching children how to hold a pencil correctly and supporting those who struggle
  • Teaching letter formations using a consistent progressive approach
  • Teaching capital letters (including their size) 
  • Teaching that letters sit on lines
  • Teaching relative size of letters (ascenders and descenders) 
  • Teaching finger spaces
  • Teaching joining formations 


Reading implementation

We believe that as a school that values reading there are 6 aspects that we focus and review.

Supporting staff development

In order for children to become life-long readers, all staff must be skillful at teaching each element of phonics and reading. Staff need a strong grasp of the different stages children move through and need to have good knowledge of books to meet the different needs of children and our curriculum.

In addition to teaching reading, staff need to be effective in the assessment of reading. This means that staff need a strong understanding of where children are as a reader and how to develop them further.

With this clear vision of what skills and knowledge our staff need, we are continuing to support and strengthen existing skills through professional development in order to close any gaps.



Teaching the reading curriculum

The updated version of Gough and Tunmer’s original model describes reading comprehension as the product of word recognition and language comprehension.


 The national curriculum outlines that:

“Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world.”

We know that an effective way of teaching the reading curriculum is through a range of motivating books and texts. These good-quality texts will provide opportunities for children to be engaged enthusiastically about learning to read. Good teaching of reading will ensure that all children move through the stages of reading becoming confident fluent readers.





In Early Years and Key Stage 1, children participate in daily systematic phonics lessons. Children are taught a range of reading strategies to develop their fluency.  Children are taught to apply their phonics during their reading sessions and then this is extended by children taking home books that both match their level of comprehension as well as their level of phonics in order for children to practice what has been taught in school.






Early reader

As children secure their phonics knowledge teachers start teaching reading fluency explicitly. Reading fluency can be defined as reading with accuracy (reading words correctly), automaticity (reading words at an appropriate speed without great effort) and prosody (appropriate stress and intonation).


Fluency is not the end in itself but is a critical bridge to comprehension. It frees cognitive resources to process meaning allowing children to deeply understood what they have read.


Explicitly fluency instruction methods

  • Echo reading
  • Read along (teacher reads- children follow)
  • Read aloud (Choral reading) 
  • Paired reading
  • Text marking
  • Repeated reading
  • Pre-reading
  • Performance reading

As children continue to develop as early readers, they are taught explicitly a range of strategies to support themselves when they get stuck. These “fix-it” strategies continue throughout children’s reading development.  Children learn these one at a time and by the time they leave Barnehurst they will have over 12 strategies to support them when they get stuck.



Whole Class Reading

The architecture of CUSP reading

At the heart of our reading curriculum is a rich and diverse literature spine, which helps to frame learning from across the curriculum. There is a balance of whole texts and extracts giving children a broad diet of reading experiences and preparing children as readers for life.



Year 5 example

Each cohort will have a suite of core texts that will form the depth study for the academic year. These texts have been mapped carefully to ensure a breadth of experiences, authors, texts and themes is addressed across the Primary years. In addition to these texts, there are core poems that each year group will study in detail. Other texts that will be studied in part will be outlined within the curriculum. This example Year 5 spine represents the core texts for a depth study only.



The literature spine is broad, rich and agile. Its core purpose is to expose children to a range of high-quality literature that gives every child a mirror in which to see themselves and offers a window to children to see a world beyond their own. This has also been reflected within the supporting texts and the thematic mapping is designed to communicate where specific moral, social and ethical issues are indicated or addressed.


Throughout the literature spine these themes re-occur ensuring explicit thematic schemas are developed. The curriculum is structured to introduce and revisit knowledge, following the  principles of instruction, guided by understanding how the memory works and cognitive load theory.




Here is an example of the thematic mapping across year 3 highlighting a range of themes.






Reading Progression

Progression across the reading curriculum is in line with the national curriculum. Teachers are able to review key knowledge and skill development in reading across the range of texts children will be exposed to over their years at Barnehurst. Below is an example of some of the Year 1 core texts and the national curriculum objective coverage.



Oracy underpins the whole curriculum. It is an essential part of all areas of the curriculum but plays a major part in the implementation and progression of reading. Children are taught to  speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English.  They learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This enables them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing. Elements include modelling, scaffolding, reading strategies such as echo reading or performance reading, class discussions, peer discussions and oral responses to questions. Children are taught vocabulary explicitly throughout each lesson where teachers give children the opportunity to decode, define and analyse new words in order to understand them deeply.


Teachers use a range of resources to support them in the planning and delivery of the reading curriculum. Skeleton plans are provided with 4 parts.

  1. Front sheet including outcomes and context
  2. Lesson Sequence
  3. Pupil Task Strips
  4. Supplementary texts

Lesson plans are created in line with Roshenshines principles of practice. Each lesson follows the same structure ensuring children are secure in the consistent approach and routines  teachers put in place to teach reading. Teachers move through the stages supporting children to connect learning, building schemas, and then apply this in a range of ways.


Recording reading responses

Over the week children will have opportunities to record their responses to what they have read and discussed on purpose designed task strips. The task strips follow the lesson structure  and allow for children to be prompted, discuss and record their new learning.