Gillas Lane Primary Academy and Nursery, Seaton Avenue, Houghton Le Spring, Sunderland, DH5 8EH

0191 500 5956

Gillas Lane Primary Academy and Nursery

Proud to be part of Aim High Academy Trust

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”


- Walt Disney


English at Gillas Lane Primary Academy

At Gillas Lane, we know that English is the gateway to learning in all other subjects. A secure understanding of reading, writing and speaking & listening is the foundation for all learning. In order to make good progress across the curriculum, children must be able to read, write and communicate - and they need to be able to do it well!


English in Early Years


Our reading and writing journey begins with our youngest children in Nursery where pre-reading and pre-writing skills are planned for meticulously by our Early Years team. As children move into Reception, they start their formal phonics teaching where reading and writing skills are interlinked. Our Early Years Unit is the perfect setting for practising those developing reading and writing skills; the environment is thought about carefully and shared play is used to further develop formal teaching.


Alongside reading and writing, our Early Years team value the importance of developing our children's speech and language skills. Our whole school approach to speaking in full sentences and bouncing back incorrect sentence structures begins in Early Years. Speaking and listening learning behaviours are developed; small group NELI sessions are delivered in Reception and Nursery take part in BLAST.


Read Write Inc. Phonics and Key Stage 1 English

We use the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme to deliver phonics across Reception and Key Stage 1 (and into Key Stage 2 where necessary). We implement the programme rigorously, working alongside the English Hub and Read Write Inc. who offer support and challenge on a half-termly basis. 


From their first day in Reception, children access the RWI Phonics Programme to ensure they become confident and fluent readers with a love of books at the earliest opportunity. The RWI Programme links reading sounds to writing them. Children love their RWI sessions... and so do their teachers!

As children move into Key Stage 1, their phonics learning continues. We have high expectations for phonics attainment and where children are not meeting the expected standard, we implement rigorous intervention to ensure they catch up. We are determined that all children will learn to read at the earliest possible opportunity and our staff are highly trained in identifying gaps in learning to ensure children catch up quickly.

In Year 1, a mixture of Continuous Provision activities and formal adult-directed teaching and learning ensures children have time to develop key skills. We continue to ensure fine and gross motor skills are developed to support the increasing time children spend taking part in more formal learning. Oracy continues to be a high priority: children are expected to answer in full sentences and our collaborative approach to teaching and learning means they become adept at working as part of team or with a partner. 

By the Summer Term of Year 2, we aim for all children to have completed the phonics programme. Where this is not the case, we continue with phonics teaching to ensure good progress.

In Key Stage 2, children who have not completed the phonics programme continue to receive daily phonics teaching. We carefully track children's progress to ensure they can complete the programme as quickly as possible and catch up with age-related expectations.


Key Stage 2 English

When children are learning to read, we send home RWI reading books to support and build on learning in the classroom. As children progress, we use Lexile Measures to ensure children are reading appropriately challenging texts, but our most valuable tool is our staff, whose love of reading and knowledge of children's literature is second to none. 


High-quality core texts are used to develop a love of reading from Nursery to Year 6. A carefully curated text pacer has been developed to ensure coverage of a wide range of genres, authors and themes - ask any of our children and they will tell you that our books are the best!


In Year 1, engaging texts are used in English lessons to develop key reading skills such as inference and deduction. 

From Year 2 onwards, children read a wide range of texts themselves, developing key reading skills in line with the National Curriculum objectives for their Programme of Study. From Tuesday in Year 2, to The Nowhere Emporium in Year 6, children enjoy a wide range of texts that are brought to life by teachers with a real love of children's literature.

Our text-based approach to teaching English means our writing links directly to the texts we read. During English lessons, there is an equal focus on both reading and writing -  children routinely read texts as a whole class. A variety of genres are covered each term and children have the opportunity to write, receive feedback and then redraft their work. Children are given the opportunity to write for a variety of reasons and purposes, and we often share children's work with the authors that inspired them via our Twitter account. Carefully planned steps to teaching writing from Reception to Year 6 ensure children become competent, confident writers who are fully invested in the writing process. Have a look at some of our fabulous writing below!



Not some people, some of the time!


All children are expected to read to an adult at home every night;

our Everybody Every Night celebrations are always a highlight of each half-term.




Speaking and Listening


At Gillas Lane Primary Academy, we understand that children arrive at school with varied knowledge and understanding of language, whether this be English, or another native language. We build on children’s knowledge and understanding through our use of sentence stems and encourage repetition of correct sentence structure. Our collaborative approach to teaching and learning ensures the Gillas Lane children spend a lot of their time speaking: sharing ideas, explaining their understanding, challenging the thoughts of others are part and parcel of every lesson at Gillas Lane!

During Youth Parliament Week, Year 6 took part in an organised debate. They followed the protocols used in the House of Commons to debate a range of topics. They were so good at it, they showed off their debating skills in assembly the following day. We certainly have some budding MPs on our hands!







We were thrilled to hear that Mrs Straughan was selected as the winner of the Lord Glenamara Memorial Award for Excellence in English. She received this letter of congratulations from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education. It is wonderful that the way we teach English at Gillas Lane has been recognised as being best practice.