Reading in the Classroom
At Shirley we use a variety of reading schemes including Big Cat, Rigby Star, PM books, Oxford Reading Tree and Bug Club, to give the children experience of different styles of books and genres (e.g. fiction, non-fiction, poetry, traditional stories). The books are carefully levelled to support children in their progress and go from level 1 up to level 30, when children become free readers. All progress is celebrated but a special milestone is reached when children become ‘Rainbow Readers’ at level 26. In the classroom, the bookshelves are stocked with a range of books which include many different genres. In 2018, the Friends of Shirley raised money for each class to choose a range of books to replenish the shelves with new and exciting reads. 

Helping your child at home
Children are encouraged right from the start to take books home regularly, and it is important for them to read with parents throughout their time in school. This helps the children to develop better fluency and understanding.
Writing in the Classroom
Writing is a very important part of Literacy and the whole curriculum.

Children have daily opportunities to engage in language games and activities to get them going and thinking before writing. They will regularly see the teacher modelling writing and children will contribute to shared writing. We use talk for writing strategies where children are supported in their writing through a variety of speaking and listening activities prior to putting pen to paper. Children discuss their thoughts and talk through features of texts and take part in oral story telling so they are very familiar with a story before they start to write it.

Children are taught a variety of text types and are provided with regular opportunities to write their own versions. Some examples are stories, information texts, diary entries, and instructions. Children help their teachers to make a list of what to include in their writing so they know what to use in their own work and this helps them to check it afterwards.
Writing takes place across the curriculum too and children are often given different contexts for writing. For example, in science, they may write up a science experiment whereas in history, they may write a newspaper report about a historical event. 
Handwriting is another important element of writing. At Shirley we use the Nelson handwriting font and children are taught and encouraged to join up their letters from year 2 onwards. Good presentation is always encouraged and celebrated.
For more information
Phonics is taught daily in the Foundation Stage and in KS1 to support children in their reading and writing. At Shirley, we follow the Letters and Sounds synthetic phonics programme, as well as using the Jolly Phonics actions to help learn the phonemes.

Children are taught all of the main phonemes (sounds) in Reception and are encouraged to sound out words and blend them to read and sound talk words to write them. Children play a range of games to practise these skills and they are reinforced during their Literacy lessons when reading and writing.

Phonemes and words learnt in Reception are practised further in KS1 and children also learn more phonemes and tricky words.


Spelling is taught from Year 2 upwards and at Shirley we follow the No Nonsense Spelling programme, which meets the National curriculum requirements for spelling. This programme focuses on teaching the children strategies to know and learn spelling conventions – patterns and rules and also promotes the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions and personal spellings, particularly linked to topic words. In Year 2 spelling lessons occur daily and in KS2 they occur twice a week. Children practise spellings through a variety of games and activities and these are revisited during English lessons too.
Speaking and Listening
We value children's speaking and listening skills very highly and want to help them develop their communication across the whole curriculum. Here are some of the strategies we use to achieve this:
  • We ensure that new vocabulary is displayed in the classroom for children to refer to throughout all our topics.
  • We frequently use 'talk partners' in our lessons. This means asking the children to share their ideas with their partner and gives them a chance to use new vocabulary immediately and in a non-threatening way.
  • We use oral storytelling techniques in Literacy lessons. Children learn a shared story and use actions to remind them of the structure, connectives and content.
  • We use a variety of warm up games and activities at the start of our lessons to get the children speaking and listening. For example, children might have to guess what verb is being acted out, or add punctuation to a sentence they have listened to.
  • We give children opportunities to orally rehearse what they are going to write using 'talk frames' which helps them to structure their ideas, and provides them with sentence openers and vocabulary related to the topic.
  • We incorporate drama activities into our lessons. For example, we might hotseat a character from a story, asking open-ended questions to get information for our writing.
All these strategies provide opportunities for children to develop their ability to communicate in different contexts.