How we teach English at Combe Martin

English in EYFS
In EYFS we use Talk for Writing which is an approach that supports children to explore, through talk, the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. It is embedded at every phase of the teaching sequence which is structured to include teacher talk, supported pupil talk and independent pupil talk. We believe that Talk for Writing is an approach that goes beyond the development of children’s general speaking and listening skills – it allows children to explore the processes involved in being a writer, and extends oral rehearsal so that it becomes a draft for their written pieces. The approach supports the children to move from talk into writing.

English in Key Stage 1 and 2
In Key Stage 1 and 2 we teach Reading and Writing using Curriculum by Unity Schools Partnership (CUSP).

CUSP is an evidence informed, carefully sequenced English curriculum, which maps core content in Reading and Writing across the primary journey, ensuring that learning is taught and revisited over time so that pupils commit their understanding to the long-term memory.


Reading is an essential life skill which underpins all our work at school. Reading is the key to learning so we are determined that every child learns to read as quickly as possible. We aim to develop a strong community of readers amongst both the children and staff at Combe Martin School and actively promote and celebrate a love of reading. We value the importance of books and literature in enabling children to become confident, happy and enthusiastic readers and writers. We strive to ensure that children experience high quality literature and hear a wide range of ambitious and challenging language.

Early Reading EYFS-Year 1

Phonics and Early Reading
In EYFS and Year 1, children use the Big Cat Little Wandle Reading Books which are fully decodable and matched to the Little Wandle programme of progression.
These books:
● Exactly match the Little Wandle phonics progression
● Present only GPCs that have been taught
● Include only tricky words that have been taught
Books are matched to children’s phonic knowledge based on data from half termly assessments. The same book is sent home to practice fluent reading. In Reception reading books with words are sent home as soon as the child can blend. Prior to this wordless books are used. Reading Practice sessions are timetabled in accordance with the Little Wandle Scheme. They are taught by a trained teacher or teaching assistant in a small group0.

Children also take home a reading for pleasure book which they are encouraged to share with an adult at home.

CUSP Reading is deliberately designed to be ambitious and aspirational, ensuring that every child leaves our school as a competent, confident reader. Drawing on the latest research around explicit vocabulary instruction, reading fluency and key comprehension strategies, this curriculum is a synthesis of what we know works in helping children make outstanding progress in reading and a distillation into consistent, well-structured practice.

In Key Stage 1 pupils share rich, diverse texts and have weekly lessons enabling them to discuss their own understanding, themes of the texts and their responses to them.

In Key Stage 2 pupils receive a daily diet of excellent reading teaching and this is supplemented by regular opportunities to engage with shared reading experiences, promoting the joy of reading with the whole school community.

The clear structure and principles of CUSP Reading ensures that teaching is progressive, challenging and engaging and the rich, diverse literature spine acts as both a mirror so that every child can see themselves in the core texts and as a window to engage pupils with experiences beyond their own field of reference.

How we teach CUSP Reading

Each learning sequence follows the same structure:

● Explicit vocabulary instruction
● Deliberate fluency instruction and prosody training
● Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies
● Clear focus on what pupils should know, be able to do and remember.

Each lesson follows the same structure:

● Explain
● Example
● Attempt
● Apply
● Challenge

Reading at home
From Year 2, we use Accelerated Reader as the basis for our home-school reading programme, promoting personalised reading for pleasure. This programme signposts children to literature at their reading level, assesses their reading comprehension and rewards each child’s efforts.

Within CUSP Writing expert subject knowledge is carefully woven into each Writing module which gives teachers the opportunity to teach and rehearse key knowledge and skills before applying this learning to meaningful extended outcomes. The careful architecture of this curriculum ensures that pupils build on prior learning and maximise purposeful curriculum connections to become writers for life. Within the CUSP curriculum, punctuation and grammar is taught directly within the daily writing lessons. Vocabulary is taught alongside direct and explicit teaching of Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary.

How We Teach Writing
From Year 1 to Year 6 each learning sequence follows the same structure:

● Revisiting prior learning
● Taught content
● Opportunities to apply the taught content