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Kilburn Grange School

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English & Phonics

We believe that the most valuable subject to enable children to learn, enjoy and succeed at school and in their future lives, is undoubtedly English.
As the dominant world language, English is the beating heart of our culture, and language is the method through which we all think and communicate. Strong literary skills are not only crucial to enhancing pupils’ learning across all other subjects but in determining their future life outcomes.

Speaking and Listening

At Kilburn Grange School, we believe that speaking and listening, or dialogue, is one of the key principles of quality first teaching. Dialogue is embedded in every lesson and is being promoted by using a range of strategies throughout the school for example, through talking partners, sentence stems, talking homework, talking pictures, fortnightly Picture News sessions, class assemblies, questioning for challenges and group discussions.


To teach phonics, we use the Monster Phonics scheme which is about making phonics memorable, engaging and easier to teach.

It is a multisensory scheme that uses an innovative colour-coding system to help children to read and write. It is the only scheme that uses colour-coding and audio-visual cues (monsters) to bring learning phonics to life. See more information about Monster Phonics.

Phonics is taught from the first week children start in Reception and up until the first term of Year 2. Towards the end of Year 1, children take a Phonics Screening Check. The Phonics Screening Check shows how well each child can use their phonics skills and knowledge to read a wide range of words. All children are taught to decode and blend using their phonics knowledge to read real words and pseudowords (words that are not real). Children working through the Monster Phonics scheme use Monster Phonics decodable reading books to support reading lessons and reading at home.

The Department for Education defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about ten minutes to complete. Any children that do not pass the check will continue to take part in phonics lessons or interventions so that they can re-sit the check at the end of Year 2. For more information about phonics and the phonics check, please refer to the guidance produced by the Standards and Testing Agency.


Once children complete the phonics programme, they move onto Accelerated Reader. See our leaflet on how Accelerated Reader works.

From Year 2 and above, children have a 45-minute whole-class guided reading lesson every day. Two of these days are focused on a fiction class novel selected from a list of essential fiction reads for that year group. The other two days are focused on a non-fiction text linked to the current class topic. Children practise completing various comprehension texts on the fifth day.

Reception and Year 1 guided reading lessons are structured slightly differently to accommodate the greater proportion of children still working on developing their phonics skills and reading strategies. However, they also read a range of fiction and non-fiction key texts as a class. All class teachers also plan for purposeful opportunities to incorporate reading across the curriculum and various subjects.

World Book Day is marked every academic year as part of Book Week every March. A whole school theme is identified and celebrated throughout the week, complemented by other activities such as storytelling workshops and travelling book shops.

Writing including Handwriting

Teachers plan and implement a creative curriculum, whereby writing lessons are linked to a key text and the year group’s English goals including grammar and spelling. All the key texts and non-fiction books children explore in reading and writing lessons are interwoven with the half-termly or termly topic. The key texts are also used to teach a range of writing genres. Teachers also plan for purposeful opportunities to write across the curriculum and various subjects.

The school teaches handwriting through the Letter-join Handwriting scheme (from Years 2-6). In Reception and Year 1, letter formation is taught through Monster Phonics. See our leaflet on how handwriting is taught at Kilburn Grange School.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. – J.K. Rowling