Balgowan 066



Our aim is that all children:

  • are excited and motivated to read, write and express themselves;
  • are provided with a rich, experimental and imaginative curriculum;
  • are exposed to a wide-variety of high-quality literature;
  • build and internalise a bank of stories that support them in developing their imagination, vocabulary, writing techniques and confidence;
  • are taught phonics, spelling and grammar through a creative approach that is contextualised within the art of writing;
  • are exposed to high-quality shared and guided reading and writing, modelling the skills and techniques of being a confident reader and writer;
  • receive informative and motivational feedback in order to move them on developmentally, as well as motivationally as readers and writers.

At Balgowan, our aim is that all children love English and are excited to read, write and express themselves. In order to achieve this, we follow Talk for Writing (TFW) as a whole school, cumulative and systematic process for the teaching of English. Since implementing TFW, children have progressed, gaining confidence as well as pleasure in becoming readers and writers.

Talk for Writing fundamentally teaches children how to be writers – not just how to write. It supports children to be able to generate ideas, draw upon their reading and write confidently for a variety of audiences and purposes.  The methodology follows a three-tier pattern: Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application.  During the imitation stage, children get to know a text really well by orally learning it, exploring it through drama and then reading it for vocabulary, comprehension and writerly tools.  The Innovation stage is grounded in the processes of shared writing, with a strong and systematic focus on securing the basics of handwriting, phonics/spelling and grammar in relation to what is needed for the text type being taught. The final stage, Independent Application, promotes children to draft, edit and publish their own independent versions.

At the heart of Talk for Writing is the principle that schools should increase the amount children read and are read to.  Balgowan is establishing a very strong ‘literature spine’ which identifies key stories, picture books, poems and non-fiction which will be read and drawn upon and referred to when teaching writing.


Phonics is a method of teaching children to read and write by linking sounds (phonemes) and the letters that represent them (graphemes). It is particularly important at the beginning of children’s school experience when they have no other strategies to help them read and write words.

At Balgowan phonics is taught daily using our own comprehensive phonics programme which follows the sequence and structure of Letters and Sounds. We feel a kinaesthetic approach to learning is important in helping children to remember new learning so we teach the children Jolly Phonics songs when introducing new GPCs (grapheme – phoneme – correspondences). A range of high-quality, progressively-built resources are used as part of the programme.

Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have daily Phonics sessions. In Year 3 Phonics sessions are continued for children that need them.

Phonics is broken down into different Phases. Please see below for more information on each Phase.

Phase 1

In Phase 1, the children develop their speaking and listening skills, learn how to differentiate between different types of sounds (environmental, instrumental, voice sounds etc.) and practise oral blending and segmenting skills. This is achieved through adult directed sessions and providing the children with language-rich provision.

Phase 2

During Phase 2, children learn 19 letters and the sounds they make. Children move on from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with letters. By the end of the phase many children should be able to read some VC and CVC words and to spell them either using magnetic letters or by writing the letters on paper or on whiteboards. During this phase, they will be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions. They will also learn to read some high-frequency ‘tricky’ words.

Phase 3

In Phase 3, children learn another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising of digraphs; two letters that make one sound (e.g. oa). Children also continue to practise CVC blending and segmenting and will apply their knowledge of blending and segmenting to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions. They will learn letter names, learn to read some more tricky words and also begin to learn to spell some of these words.

Phase 4

The purpose of this Phase 4 is to consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words.

Phase 5

During Phase 5, children broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for graphemes they have previously been taught. When spelling words, they will investigate spelling patterns and learn to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes.

Phase 6

In Phase 6, children learn more spelling rules and strategies to help them to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.

Phonics Screening Check

In Year 1 children take a Phonics Screening Check. The purpose of the Phonics Screening Check is to assess if children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. During the check the children are asked to use their Phonic knowledge to read a series of real and pretend words. We make the Phonics Screening Check as fun as we can and the children are not aware they are taking the check as they will be used to reading real and pretend words with their teachers.  Any children who do not pass the screening check in Year 1 will retake it in Year 2.

Phonics overview


This is a general guide of when the different Phases in Phonics are taught. Every year, we take into account the needs of the year group when deciding what to recap and spend more time on.






At Balgowan we use the Bug Club reading scheme for guided reading and for reading at home. Children in Reception and KS1 have daily reading sessions. During these sessions the children read either one to one or in small groups with an adult, or complete reading based activities and games. During the sessions, the children read books that are closely matched to their level of Phonics which allows them to practise and progress their Phonic skills effectively. Children also develop their reading comprehension skills through questioning and sharing their ideas about what is happening in different texts.

Please click here to see a recommended reading list for all year groups.

In Key Stage 2 reading is also taught as a separate lesson.  The emphasis is for children to understand and analyse what they are reading, as well as share their opinions on books.  Children are exposed to a range of high quality texts during these lessons. Below is a diagram of the reading learning sequence in Key Stage 2: 

Guided reading ks2

Below you will find a list of the content domains referred to in the diagram above: 

Guided reading content domains

Please find below recommended reading lists for this year's Book Week, entitled You Are the Hero of Your Own Story.