Westhaven School Subject Strategy  – English


Our main intent in teaching English is to encourage a love of reading and to empower our pupils with the confidence and knowledge to communicate confidently in written and spoken form. We want our pupils to be curious about the origins of words,  to write creatively, to appreciate different genres of text and to be able to choose the appropriate tone according to audience and purpose when writing or speaking.

Our English curriculum in KS2 is topic-based and linked to the curriculum Learning Quests. We do this to consolidate learning across all subject areas and to give pupils the opportunity to make cross- curricular links. In KS3, the English curriculum remains topic-based, but is linked to texts in line with the National Curriculum genre requirements such as Shakespeare, pre-1914 English literature and post-1945 English poetry. The English scheme of learning at KS3 outlines the genres covered but does not specify texts. We do this so that teachers can choose texts appropriate to their pupils’ ability levels and interests. At KS4, the English curriculum is linked to the qualification studied.


Pupils in KS2 and KS3 are taught in mixed ability tutor groups and have 5 lessons a week. Pupils in KS4 are taught in streamed groups according to the level of qualification they are studying (Entry Level, Functional Skills or GCSE). They have 4 lessons a week in year 10 and 3 lessons a week in year 11.

All strands of English are considered of equal importance at Westhaven. In spoken language, pupils are given the opportunity in KS2 to present their ideas to the class and to take part in group discussions. In KS3, this is built on further and pupils take part in debates and prepare and present formal presentations. We do this because these skills are required for all qualifications offered at KS4.

We are keen advocates of reading for pleasure and encourage all of our pupils to have a book on the go at all times. All pupils have the opportunity to develop their reading in different ways every week. In KS2, pupils have at least three phonics sessions per week, they read to an adult at least once a week, they take part in guided reading and work on their reading detective skills in group work. They also have a reading book to take home every day. At KS3, pupils access phonics sessions according to need and read to an adult at least once a week, all pupils are read to by their tutor twice a week and group reading takes place in English lessons. At KS4, pupils continue to have tutor time reading twice a week and complete reading tasks in line with their qualification.  All pupils have access to the school library, the lunchtime library club and our reading volunteer programme where appropriate.

Writing is central to our curriculum at Westhaven. Pupils work towards gaining their Westhaven Pen Licence by producing neat, cursive handwriting consistently. Teachers in KS2 and teaching teams in KS3 and KS4 monitor the standard of handwriting across the curriculum so that it is consistent in all subjects. Pupils are reminded of their focus in English (e.g. commas in lists) and encourage pupils to use these correctly in other subjects. In KS2, pupils produce writing based on their topic-linked reading book. The main focus is on securing correct pencil grip, letter formation and forming sentences correctly. Teachers model written work and pupils produce their own work based on this. Most work produced in KS2 is under the genre “writing to describe” but some pupils are introduced to the “writing to inform” genre.  In KS3, teachers continue to model written work and pupils use the skills introduced at KS2 to produce extended writing in a variety of genres: writing to persuade, describe, explain and inform. They are taught the differences between formal and informal writing and use presentational devices in their work. We do this because at KS4, pupils are required to write in different genres and to identify different presentational devices.  More able pupils are able to word process their extended writing at KS3. We do this because this is the method used for the Functional Skills and GCSE assessments.


In KS2 and KS3, teachers use the information from the learning ladders to plan English lessons based on what pupils already know and can do. When pupils have regressed in their learning, teachers take pupils back to a lower outcome and move back upwards when learning is secure. Pupils’ work is marked during lessons, this enables teachers to assess continually and to act on any misconceptions quickly.

Pupils are assessed for writing, reading, spoken language, spelling and phonics at KS2 and KS3 using the English Learning Ladders. Data captures take place in terms 2, 4 and 6 and teachers meet with subject leaders in the subsequent Pupil Progress Meetings. This is an opportunity to discuss the progress of pupils and to identify any trends in progress or intervention needs. Pupils are also assessed more formally in reading ability, reading comprehension and spelling twice yearly. At KS4, pupils are assessed according to the qualification they are following but are also formally assessed in reading ability, reading comprehension and spelling twice a year.

English Reading


Westhaven School Subject Strategy – Phonics

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.

Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.

Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.


At Westhaven, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that, for most, the systematic teaching of phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through phonics children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics is of high priority.


Through the teaching of letters and sounds, linked with Jolly Phonics and accessing Phonics Play, the children are taught the essential skills needed for reading. Phonics is taught daily to all children in Lower School at Westhaven who require it as we recognise its importance. For the children in Middle School, interventions and additional classroom support are provided to those who have not yet secured their phonic knowledge. 

Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. 

Phonics is delivered either in a whole class format or in smaller groups, whichever works best for the group of learners in the cohort. 

In addition to daily phonics, the children have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure they are regularly practising and applying their phonics knowledge. 

In the EYFS the continuous provision matches the children’s current stage of development, knowledge and understanding whilst ensuring the children are appropriately challenged. Teachers regularly assess the pupil’s phonics knowledge using the phonics assessments, the Westhaven Learning Ladder for reading and phonics and Reading Early Learning Goal (in EYFS). These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. The children have reading books which they are encouraged to read regularly at home which match their current phonics level.

Leadership, Assessment and Feedback 

  • Assessment informs the teaching and learning sequence, and children work on the learning intentions they are assessed as being at. We use screening materials plus the Westhaven Learning Ladders for phonics. 
  • Feedback is given on children’s learning in line with our feedback policy. Formative assessment within every lesson helps teachers to identify the children who need more support to achieve the intended outcome and who are ready for greater stretch and challenge through planned questioning or additional activities. 
  • In order to support teacher judgments, children may be assessed using current and reliable tests in line with the national guidance on phonics. Gap analysis of any tests that the children complete is undertaken and fed into future planning
  • The English leader and Senior Leaders have a clear role and overall responsibility for the progress of all children in phonics throughout school. Working with the Governing Body, key data is analysed and regular feedback is provided, to inform on progress and future actions.



Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers as soon as possible. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the remainder of their time at school. Attainment in phonics is measured by regular screening tests along with teacher assessment.