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English (Including Reading)

Navigate to the following curriculum areas using the topic buttons below:






Rationale – What is the evidence base for selected strategies and curriculum choices?

Reading for Meaning:

The Simple View of Reading (SVR), a model of reading that states reading is the result of word recognition (decoding) and language comprehension. Gough and Tunmer (2021)

The vast majority of pupils joining Woodlane, leave primary school unable to read age-appropriate books with fluency and are working well below their chronological age in reading. In the English department, we recognise that due to the range of learning needs that make up our cohort, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to reading will not work. Pupils reading is assessed on entry, including a phonic screener and standardised tests, that takes place twice a year across all year groups. Our standardised reading and spelling tests focus on decoding and comprehension and are used alongside teacher assessments to identify strengths and reading weaknesses.

Pagie et al. (2012) state that fluency with narrative texts in primary school does not guarantee that pupils will be fluent readers of secondary school texts. The reading needs of older readers (including those in upper primary) differ from those of younger pupils, because older pupils need to read and comprehend more information texts and less narrative fiction.

We aim to support this transition in skills by providing engaging, high-quality texts that reflect pupil interests. The curriculum aims to introduce students to the core knowledge they will need in order to understand and analyse each of the text types that make up the English curriculum and aims to consolidate and build on the knowledge and reading, writing, and speaking skills acquired through the study of a range of literature, including the novel, poetry, drama and fiction and non-fiction text. The English curriculum provides teaching and learning opportunities to increase pupils’ ability to become more proficient readers, accessing a secondary curriculum and beyond, building a life skill so they are can participate fully in society and the workplace. We do our best to identify gaps in pupils reading knowledge and provide support, but also promote and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom, that allows pupils to break down the skills needed for reading but also reflect on and celebrate their success within this area.

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) provide guidance for reading and writing for pleasure, and their principles are embedded in the English Curriculum:



1. Developing an ethos and an environment that excites, enthuses, inspires and values

2. High quality texts with depth and interest in story, character, illustration, vocabulary, structure and subject matter

3. A read aloud programme

4. Teachers who are knowledgeable about children’s literature

5. Creating a community of readers with opportunities to share responses and opinions 6. Planning for talking about books and stories, providing structures within which to do this 7. Understanding the importance of illustration in reading both in terms of creating a text and responding to a text

8. Using drama and role-play to help children to understand and access texts

9. Working with authors and author/illustrators to understand the process of creating books

10. Using literature beyond the literacy lesson – cross-curricular planning with quality literature as the starting point

(Centre for Literacy in Primary Education 2018)

The hearing of reading is not the teaching of reading and we aim to provide an environment that promotes reading for pleasure.


Visual Literacy:

The English curriculum aims to provide personalised meaningful language encounters for all pupils ‘transitioning text to a visual format as it decreases the learner’s cognitive load by providing clarity to complex concepts and modify meaning. Metros, S. E. (2008).

 Many pupils have speech and language needs, gaps in reading and spelling knowledge, and delayed handwriting skills, resulting in many pupils being reluctant writers. Within English, tasks promote a learning experience that allows the learner to have meaningful interactions with writing stimulus and opportunities for the learner to make meaningful visual statements promoting an experience that motivates the learner to practice ideas visually.

Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of Instruction’ supports pupils to develop strong, readily accessible background knowledge. It’s important that background knowledge be readily accessible, and this occurs when knowledge is well rehearsed and tied to other knowledge, ensuring that students efficiently acquire, rehearse, and connect background knowledge by providing a good deal of instructional support. (2012)

We aim to challenge and support pupils approaches to writing through multimodal learning, providing visual aids and concrete examples to promote discussion and links to learning. Teaching and learning follows a process of teacher demonstration, followed by guided practice and independent practice, allowing opportunities to fully embed knowledge, increasing the likelihood that pupils retain and recall skills that support their ability to respond to texts and ideas through written responses.


Targeted Vocabulary Instruction:

The Word Aware vocabulary programme (Stephen Parsons and Anna Branagan 2016) states that children need 12 meaningful encounters with a word before they really know it, and for pupils with learning difficulties this can be closer to 25 or more.  In English we aim to provide pupils with provide explicit vocabulary instruction to help students access and use academic language. Word Aware recommends the use of the STAR approach for learning new language, which we use within teaching and learning:

Select (the teacher (and during targeted sessions the SaLT) carefully select the vocabulary to be taught)

Teach (explicitly, using a variety of kinaesthetic strategies)

Activate (using the vocabulary in a range of contexts)

Review (ensuring the vocabulary is retained over time)

As per the EEF recommendations in ‘Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools’ we prioritise teaching vocabulary, which students are unlikely to encounter in everyday speech and consider which words and phrases to teach as part of curriculum planning (2021) Keywords are identified and incorporated into schemes of work, in order to build on and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge over an academic year and over a pupil’s time at Woodlane.  Schemes also provide lots of opportunities for repetition of keywords in order to fully embed knowledge. In Key Stage 4, there is increased focused on exam-style writing, that supports pupils to access and improve resilience within this context.

Intent – What is Woodlane aiming to achieve through its English curriculum?

  • To develop a love of literature.
  • To develop the habit of reading widely and for enjoyment.
  • To use discussion in order to support and enhance learning.
  • To acquire a wide vocabulary.
  • To engage pupils through multi-sensory lessons.
  • To equip pupils with a command of the spoken and written word.
  • To write with a wide range of purposes.
  • To ensure all pupils leave Woodlane with an English qualification which reflects the best of their ability. 

Implementation – How is the Woodlane  English curriculum delivered?

Curriculum Delivery

  • Pupils have full access to the English National Curriculum which is differentiated to meet pupils’ learning needs and styles.
  • The English curriculum is designed to be challenging, appropriate to each pupil’s stage of development.
  • The English Curriculum offers opportunities for cross-curricula learning, to ensure pupils make significant personal development, including:
    • World Book Days;
    • Theatre visits/In-house theatre events;
    • Educational visits;
    • SaLT strategies/Word Aware integrated in to teaching;
    • Communication development through in-class drama elements and spoken language activities, i.e. formal presentations; and
    • Use of a wide range of Media to explore popular culture, bias etc. and create own work etc.
  • The KS3 English/Literacy curriculum is taught through 3.83 hours contact time per week (16% curriculum time). 
  • The KS4 English/Literacy curriculum is taught through 3.17 hours contact time per week (13% curriculum time). 
  • Recovery Lessons are timetabled for all of KS3 (x3 lessons per week), and Year 10 (x1 lessons per week). These lessons ensure dedicated curriculum time is provided to identified areas need. The topics and subjects covered are based on the school’s data, teacher observation and assessment.
  • The English curriculum is designed to build and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge, over a 5-year period.  It also plans for opportunities for repetition to embed knowledge, increasing the chance of information recall and to integrate new knowledge into larger ideas (view our English curriculum map in Appendix). 
  • We offer a wide range of qualifications in English, which are selected to appropriately challenge, based on each pupil’s stage of development, including:
    • English Language (GCSE)
    • English Literature (GCSE)
    • Step Up to English (Gold and Silver Entry Level)
    • OCR English (Entry Level 1, 2 and 3)
    • Non-Qualification English Units for learners below Entry Level (AQA Unit Award Scheme)
  • The love of learning is incredibly important to us, we therefore also run an annual Book Day, where pupils and staff dress up as their favourite characters and participate in exciting activities.  
  • We provide additional extra-curricular activities at lunch time, including:
    • GCSE English support
    • Opportunities for homework support

Teaching and Learning

  • Our pupils are taught by transition teachers in Year 7 and subject specialists from Year 8 to Year 11.
  • Our English Subject Leader is well qualified, possessing a PGCE in English, Media and Drama, a BSc in English and Media.
  • The English curriculum is differentiated broadly into 3 levels of challenge, ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’.  Further differentiation and personalisation are implemented when required.  
  • English homework is provided on a standardised format and is differentiated to provide the appropriate level of challenge, using  ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’
  • In English we have a 3-tiered approach to supporting a pupil’s learning, including:
  • Universal – this is the teaching your child will receive from the English subject teachers and will include adaptations to match learning needs.  All classes:

    • GCSE English support
    • opportunities for homework support
    • are supported by a teaching assistant (TA);
    • have a maximum of 12 pupils per class to ensure there is a high level of support available from the teacher and TA;
    • are multi-sensory;
    • are dyslexia friendly;
    • have opportunities to use tools and technology to support and enhance their progress and enjoyment, including Spellodrome/Readiwriter;
    • have integrate speech, language and communication support;
    • are supported either directly or indirectly by speech and language therapists; and
    • receive specialist streamed literacy lessons at KS3, based on standardised testing.
  • Targeted­ – it may be appropriate to consider making additional short term special educational provision to remove or reduce any obstacles to your child’s learning.  This takes the form of a graduated four-part approach of a) assessing your child’s needs, b) planning the most effective and appropriate intervention, c) providing this intervention and d) reviewing the impact on your child’s progress towards individual learning outcomes. Interventions may include:

    • specific targeted literacy small group interventions run outside the classroom. These will be limited to a number of weeks to minimise disruption to the regular curriculum;
    • one to one literacy/reading support from a SpLD specialist;
    • one to one reading intervention using the SRA and DSE programmes;
    • termly literacy and SaLT targets.
  • Specialist – it may be necessary to seek specialist advice and regular long-term support from a specialist professional in order to plan for the best possible learning outcomes for your child.


  • Pupils collate Pupil Achievement Books, where they showcase their best work and progress over time in English.
  • Our bespoke Flight Path is used to track the progress of pupils in English and determine expected outcomes from different starting points.
  • English teachers use a range of formative and summative assessment procedures to assess progress and attainment, including:
    • daily marking;
    • self/peer assessment;
    • reading (NGRT) age assessment;
    •  spelling (NGST) age assessment;
    • informal/formal examinations; and
    • B-Squared etc.

Impact – What difference is the English curriculum making on pupils?

  • The vast majority of pupils meet or exceed their expected progress in English.
  • The vast majority of pupils meet or exceed their expected outcomes (external qualifications). 
  • The vast majority of pupils leave Woodlane with at least one formally recognised English qualification. Many pupils meet mainstream entry requirements at post-16 where they study a range of different qualifications and subjects following high achievement in English at Woodlane. Pupils who move on to post-16 provision are often able to join a mainstream environment following successful completion of the GCSE or Entry Level/Step-Up to English qualifications.
  • Pupils are well-prepared for the next stage of their education.
  • Analysis of English outcomes and pupil progress indicates that there is little statistical significance between key groups.  Where any small differences are identified strategies are implemented swiftly.
  • Literacy is embedded across the school and feeds in to all subjects. Excellent progress in English has a significant benefit for pupils in all other subjects.
  • Although a small number of pupils enter the school functionally literate, a high number move towards this throughout their time at Woodlane.
  • Functional skills and life-skills are embedded in the English curriculum and are personalised for each pupil. This supports pupils to make the leap to post-16 provision and meets their needs when entering the world of work.
  • Joint targeted interventions by the English and SaLT teams ensure the spoken language aspects of the curriculum are personalised to each pupil based on the outcomes identified within their EHCPs.

* Please see annual SEF/SIP for further details.