Literacy at William Barnes Primary School


At William Barnes Primary School, we believe that children deserve:


1.  To be set appropriate and stimulating learning challenges


2.  To be taught well and be given the opportunity to learn in ways that maximise the chances of success


3.  To be given high quality feedback, which highlights successes and areas for improvement.


4.  To have adults working with them to tackle the specific barriers to progress they face.


It is also our objective that :


5.  Children develop a lasting love of all aspects of Literacy which will aid and enhance their further education and life


6.  Children are given the opportunity to experience the widest variety of the written and spoken word possible.


What is Literacy?

Literacy contains three main strands –

The ability to read, make sense of text and to enjoy the written word.

The ability to write accurately in a variety of styles and for a variety of reasons.

The ability to speak and listen effectively.

Whilst all of our Literacy lessons contain reading, writing and speaking and listening activities, each of these elements will have dedicated time and lessons for their specific skills.


Reading is taught through a variety of different strategies. Phonics is taught daily in all Key Stage 1 classes and into Key Stage 2 if the children still require to improve their phonic skills. They are taught the sounds that letters, or groups of letters make so that they build up their ‘phonic knowledge’. This allows them to recognise common words and gives them the skills to decode words by blending phonemes together. At William Barnes, there is much emphasis on the joy of reading, choice in reading and the ability to fully understand the text. The books children choose from are colour banded and our resources are constantly updated from a variety of different schemes.

As children become more proficient in their reading, they have broader colour bands to choose from and in many cases, pursue their own preferences and bring books in from home. Fully understanding texts, being able to infer deeper meanings and the intent of the author, become the key skills for more confident readers.

Guided Reading is a key activity throughout the school. This is an opportunity for small groups of children to sit with an adult, to read out loud but to also discuss their understanding of the text.

Reading Journals are used by children from Reception to Year 6. These are used as a record of home reading, but also as an opportunity for children to regularly respond to the text they have read in a variety of exciting ways. We encourage parents to become involved in this process as much as possible.

We also run regular Peer Reading sessions where more proficient readers pass on the on the skills and joy of reading to younger children. The includes the Reading Guardians scheme.



We aim to make writing, from the earliest stages of mark making through to the detailed, focused texts written by our older children, to be a positive experience. We emphasise that writing is creative and children are encouraged to write in a variety of different styles and for different reasons and audiences.

Phonic Knowledge gained in phonic sessions is also part of writing development. Children are encouraged to remember how sounds are represented on paper so that they can segment words and spell them correctly. Once phonic knowledge is secure, children are taught the rules of spelling, so that they can apply these rules to any word they choose to use in their writing.

As well as ‘word level’ activities, children are taught ‘sentence level’ skills and this ranges from writing short phrases, their name and labels in the earliest stages to longer compound and complex sentences at later stages. We have clear expectations for the development of sentence level skills and there is much emphasis on this skill in classroom displays, children’s targets and the assessment of children’s writing.

Children are also taught how to write in different styles. This includes the writing of stories, instructions and recounts of events in early writing through to specific story structures, explanations, reports, journalistic writing and discussion texts at later stages. Children are taught how language, structure and layout change across these different styles.

All children have a ‘Writer’s Workshop’ book which follows them throughout the school. This is a special book which is used for writing on particular occasions and often includes choice and more independence.

To encourage links with home and the importance of planning and talk before writing, every month we run the HomeTalkSchoolWrite (HTSW) project. This is where every class is given a writing activity to prepare at home with parents. A letter is sent home and the children have a week to ‘HomeTalk’ before writing independently on Friday. The whole school does this at the same time and the activity is immediately followed by a HTSW assembly, where children celebrate the joy of writing and share some of their achievements. All parents receive a copy of the work that day.

Speaking and Listening

Skills in Speaking and Listening are taught throughout the school, both as individual elements but also as important skills required for learning in general.

In the earliest stages, this will include the ability to decipher different sounds, to speak clearly, present short ideas and to show listening behaviour in a variety of contexts. The ability to debate, compromise, rehearse, speak to audiences of different sizes, to adapt speech to different contexts and present ideas clearly and to speak in role are developed as children become more sophisticated with speaking and listening.

All classes engage in well organised and practised ‘Talking Partners’ when it is appropriate to their learning. We feel very strongly that this is an extremely important opportunity for children to speak about their ideas, understanding and opinions and that all of these are better out of their head than in.

Drama and role-play are also used throughout the school to develop speaking and listening skills. So much is gained from children’s opportunity to plan a story through drama or to think about the intentions of someone else through role-play.

Here are the sentence targets and expectations developed throughout the school:

Class and Age

Targets and Expectations


Year 1

Year 2

Age 4-7


Can I  write my own name.

Can I  say a simple sentence.

Can I write captions and labels.

Can I write a sentence with a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end.

Can I write single words and phrases.

Can I compose, say, write a sentence.      Can I check for sense.

Can I join 2 sentences to make a longer one.

eg. Mum went to the shop and she bought an apple.

Can I begin to write sentences using different time connectives.

eg. Later, Mum went to the shop and bought an apple.

Can I join sentences using words other than ‘and’ (or/and/but/when/if/that/so/because)

eg. Later Mum went to the shop so that she could buy an apple.

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Age 7-11

Can I start sentences with adverbial clauses and phrases(when/where/how)

eg. Once you have finished the icing, put the bowl to soak.

      Along the back straight, the long distance runner dropped out.

Can I compose a complex sentence, using a subordinate clause.

(Drop in clause – who/whose/which)

eg. The knight, who was tired, made his way to his castle.

      The dolphin, which is a mammal, lives in the sea.

Can I use sentences beginning with a subordinating conjunction. (subordinating)

eg. Because she was ill, Julie did not play in the match

    Whenever we are upset, we  talk to our teacher.

Can I use sentences beginning with a

verb +ing   or    adjective +ed.

eg. Snorting loudly, the dragon collapsed to the ground.

     Shattered and defeated, the building lay in ruins.

Can I use a variety of sentences (3 types of complex sentences) to suit text type, purposes and readers.


At William Barnes, we believe that children should be taught the appropriate skills for their ability, irrespective of age. We have a variety of intervention strategies in place to support children who are requiring support with either reading, writing or speaking and listening. These include Speech and Language therapy, Letters and Sounds Phonics in Key Stage 2, Catch-Up, SNIP and Theodorescu Spelling Programmes, The Narrative Pack, 1:1 and Rapid Readers Reading Programmes and the Able Writers’ Programme.