Gotherington Primary School

The Lawns, Gotherington, Cheltenham, GL52 9QT

Deprecated: htmlentities(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($string) of type string is deprecated in /home/gotheringtonglou/public_html/page.php on line 72

Our School  »  Our Curriculum  »  English



All children need to acquire and develop a range of language skills so that they can speak, read and write fluently and confidently in order to participate fully as members of our society.  Teaching and learning in English at Gotherington links directly to our curriculum mission. It is our intention to deliver an experiential, creative and memorable English curriculum to ensure that all our children can communicate effectively with others and are equipped with the fundamental tools they need to achieve at all stages of their education and beyond. Through reading in particular, pupils have the opportunity to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.  It is our aim to instil an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage, to encourage children to explore their imagination and to develop a love of reading, which will not only support children’s learning but also enrich their lives. We appreciate the value of high quality, carefully selected texts, which we place at the heart of our curriculum. We recognise the importance of creating a school culture, where children take pride in their writing and use it to communicate their thoughts, knowledge and understanding clearly.  We want children to see themselves as writers and be able to communicate with a reader, share their ideas, and to use language to entertain, persuade, explain or delight.  It is our intention that children at Gotherington will be inspired and taught to write creatively, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.  We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want children to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process. We also aim to support children to develop strong oral language skills, providing them with regular opportunities for discussion and debate, which enable them to develop their thinking and reasoning skills and thus further their learning.


We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum, which reflects the requirements of the National Curriculum and provides an exciting range of purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion.  Our English curriculum is derived around a sequence of carefully selected, age-appropriate, rich texts, linked to a termly or half termly cross-curricular, experiential theme, which takes into account the interests and needs of individual year group cohorts.  We use these texts to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading strategies and skills; to develop grammar and punctuation knowledge and understanding; to explore the writing structure and features of different genres and to identify purpose and audience. Children are encouraged to write independently and collaboratively, for a wide range of real purposes, linked wherever possible to our cross-curricular themes. We provide frequent opportunities for the children to practise the skills needed to be a successful writer. Teachers use an integrated approach, whereby grammar objectives, reading skills and writing composition are all taught and modelled throughout not just English lessons, but across the wider curriculum. Our outcomes for writing are purpose-led and are framed by four key principles: to entertain, to inform, to discuss and to persuade.  Discussion, dialogue and debate are a regular feature of lessons, and we engage with real life contexts where possible to enable students to connect their learning with the world beyond the classroom.

Early Reading at Gotherington Primary School (See more information on this below)


Our phonics programme matches the expectations as set out within the National Curriculum and the new EYFS Framework. We have clear expectations of pupils’ phonics progress term-by-term, from Reception to Year 2 and this is achieved through a consistent and systematic approach to the way in which phonics are taught.  At Gotherington we use ‘Floppy’s Phonics’, which teaches the letter/sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading and spelling. It includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends which engages children fully in the process of phonics teaching and learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension. There are six overlapping phases which the children work through, usually starting in the pre-school setting. In the Reception class children work within Phases 1-4, in Year 1, Phase 5 and in Year 2, Phase 6. As children learn at different rates it is not uncommon for children within the same class to be working on different phonic phases and the teaching is targeted accordingly. 


The impact of our English Curriculum will be evident in the development of a community of enthusiastic young readers, and creative, skilled writers who enjoy showcasing their developing English knowledge and skills. They will be perceptive listeners and self-assured speakers, who are confident enough to take risks, and they will love to discuss and share their ideas with different audiences. They will be fully equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens. The attainment of our pupils in KS1 in reading and writing is consistently in line with National results for children achieving Expected standard.  KS2 attainment in reading, writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling is consistently well above the Gloucestershire and national average for children achieving the Expected standard and Greater Depth.  School Inspection Data indicated that in 2019 our three year average reading attainment score in KS2 was in the highest 20% of UK schools.   

Phonics at Gotherington Primary School

At Gotherington Primary School, we are committed to the delivery of excellence in the teaching of phonics. We aim to develop each child so that they are able to read with fluency as well as develop a love of reading that will stay with them all their lives.


We use a systematic and structured phonics programme: Floppy’s Phonics. This is in line with the Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) teaching principles described in the ‘English programmes of study: Key Stages 1 and 2 – National Curriculum in England’ which was statutory from September 2014.

The Floppy’s Phonics programme teachers the letter/sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading and spelling. It includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends which engages children fully in the process of phonics teaching and learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension.

Initially, children’s listening skills are developed through the use of music, environmental sounds and rhyme. During their journey through the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, they are taught the 44 phonemes (sounds) that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made up of just one letter e.g. ‘b’ as in ‘bed’ and those made using two letters e.g. ‘ai’ as in ‘rain’ or three letters e.g. ‘igh’ as in ‘high’.

Children are taught the key skills of blending sounds together for reading and segmenting (breaking up) words for spelling. As the children grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound, e.g. ‘ee’ can be represented as ‘ee’ as in ‘bee’, ‘ea’ as in ‘tea’, ‘e-e’ as in ‘theme’ and ‘e’ as in ‘we’. They also learn when to apply simple spelling rules and to use verbs in the correct tense.

We ensure that our teaching of phonics is rigorous, structured and enjoyable. From Reception to Year 2, children have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they are introduced to new phonemes, explore, practise and revise previous learning and have plenty of opportunities to apply the knowledge they have.

We use a range of multisensory strategies to enthuse and engage the children, including the use of interactive whiteboards, magnetic letters, grapheme tiles, speaking and listening, and practical activities. Children work with pace and are encouraged to apply their knowledge across the whole curriculum.

The 44 Sounds (Phonemes) in the English Language

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another. Since sounds cannot be written, we use letters to represent of stand for those sounds. A grapheme is the written representation (a letter or cluster of letters) of one sound. It is generally agreed that there are approximately 44 sounds in English, with some variation dependent on accent and articulation.

The 44 phonemes are represented by the 26 letters of the alphabet individually and in combination. Phonics instruction involves teaching the relationship between sounds and the letters used to represent them. There are hundreds of spelling alternatives that can be used to represent the 44 phonemes. Only the most common sound/letter relationships need to be taught explicitly. The 44 sounds can be divided into two major categories – consonants and vowels. The 44 phonemes represented below are in line with the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Please see alphabetic code attached.

Phonics Screening Check

What is it?

Children in Year 1 throughout the country take part in a phonics screening check during the same week in June. Children in Year 2 will also take the check if they did not achieve the required result in Year 1 or they have not taken the test before.

The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard.

What happens during the check?

The test contains 40 words. Each child will sit one-to-one and read each word aloud to their class teacher (or another member of staff who your child knows well and feels comfortable with). The test takes approximately 10 minutes per child although all children are different and will complete the check at their own pace and there is no time limit.

The list of words the children read is a combination of 20 real words and 20 pseudo (alien) words.

Through Reception and Year 1, they will have been taught all the sounds they need to be able to complete the test.

We report to you as parents or carers on whether your child was successful or not in the Phonics Screening Test in their end of year report.

How can I help my child at home?

  • Play lots of sound and word games with your child.
  • Read as much as possible to, and with, your child.
  • Read words in the environment with your child – signs, shopping lists etc.
  • Encourage and praise – encourage your child to use their phonic knowledge to decode the words before telling them the word.
  • If you child is struggling to decode a word, encourage them to say each sound in the word from left to right.
  • Blend the sounds together by pointing out each one e.g. s-i-ng. Segment the word into the separate sounds and move your finger under the whole word as you read it.
  • Discuss the meaning of words to help with comprehension.

There are many games to play that make learning to read fun and engaging. Below are a few examples:

Listening Walk – go for a walk around the house, garden or local area and encourage children to listen attentively to sounds around them. Talk about different sounds they can hear. When talking and teaching phonics it is so important to use the pure sound as in ‘a’ not 'aaaaaaa’. This enables your child to segment and blend with success.

Sounds a Day/Week – Write out the sounds to practise on lots of bits of paper and stick them around the house. Encourage your child to practise spotting and saying the sounds throughout the day/week.

Matching Pairs – play snap with phonemes and words which contain the phoneme – e.g. play/stay, flight/right.

Phonics Detective – finding words with a certain phoneme in a book.

Phonics Fishing – use homemade letter flashcards, add a paperclip to each, tie a magnet to some string and a stick and ask your child to fish for a particular phoneme or word.

Phonics Pop – write phonemes on bubble wrap and then, as you call out each phoneme, your child can pop the correct bubble.

News – ask your child to highlight all the phonemes/words they know in a newspaper or magazine. Do this as a team – you could highlight in a different colour and your child could highlight words they know in a different colour.

Simon Says – play a game of Simon Says by saying: “Put your hands behind your b-a-ck”, or show the word on a card for your child to read in order to complete the action.

I Spy – use phonemes children are learning at the middle/end of a word instead of the initial phoneme, e.g. “I spy with my little eye something which ends in the sound ‘ay’ (tray)”, or “I spy with my little eye something which contains the sound ‘ai’ (rain).”

Car Park – write a phoneme in a car parking space (draw out simply on paper or card) and challenge your child to park the car in the right place.

Phonics Bingo – create a grid on a sheet of paper and write down various phonemes. Next, take or make your own flashcards and mix them up. Pull out a card at random and say the phoneme out loud. If your child has the correct sound written down, they can cross it off. Once they have crossed them all off the shout “Bingo!”. Some phonemes have more than one spelling e.g. r, rr, wr, rh. These are alternative graphemes for the phoneme ‘r’. This game will help your child make the connection between letter sounds and shapes in a quick and enjoyable way.

Phonics Splat – write out phonemes/words on bits of paper and stick them on a wall. Say a phoneme/word at random and your child can splat it with their hand or a plastic fly swatter.

Phonics Vocabulary

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in the English language. Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up of:

                    1 letter – a

                    2 letters – sh

                    3 letters – tch

                    4 letters – ough

GPC – This stands for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. A GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound, e.g. ‘th’ as in ‘thing’.

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound, e.g. ‘ing’ as in ‘night’.

Blending – This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to read a word.

Segmenting– This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and them writing those graphemes down in the right order to spell a word.

Reading at home

1. Reading exercises our brains.

Reading strengthens brain connections and actually builds new connections.

2. Reading improves concentration.

Children have to sit still and quietly so they can focus on the story when they’re reading. If they read regularly, they develop the ability to do this for longer periods.


3. Reading teaches children about the world around them.

Through reading, children learn about people, places and events outside their own experience. They are exposed to ways of life, ideas and beliefs about the world which may be different from those which surround them.


4. Reading improves a child’s vocabulary and leads to more highly-developed language skills.

This is because children learn new words as they read but also because they unconsciously

absorb information as they read about things like how to structure sentences and how to use

words and language effectively.


5. Reading develops a child’s imagination.

This is because when we read our brains translate the descriptions we read of people, places and things into pictures. When we’re engaged in a story, we’re also imagining how the characters are feeling. We use our own experiences to imagine how we would feel in the same situation.


6. Reading helps kids develop empathy.

You’re identifying with the character in the story so you’re feeling what he’s/ she’s feeling.


7. Children who read do better at school.

They do better at all subjects and they do better all the way through school.


8. Reading is a great form of entertainment!

A paperback book or an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle doesn’t take up much space so you can take it anywhere and you’ll never be lonely or bored if you have a book in your bag.


9. Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.

When we read, we read in silence and the black print on a white page is much less stressful for our eyes and brains.


Phonics at Gotherington