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Welcome to

Hillside Primary

and Nursery School

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Planning and teaching expectations for English at Hillside

At Hillside, we teach through an immersive curriculum, which means all our learning links and flows through our topics. This creates purposeful, engaging learning experiences for the children and ensures they make meaningful connections across all areas of the curriculum.

Each week for English, we are expected to plan and teach:

  • 3x writing lessons in KS1, 4x writing lessons in KS2
  • 4x 40 minute reading lessons (Year 3 - Year 6)
  • 5x RWI Phonics sessions (FS2, Year 1 and Year 2)
  • 2/3x No Nonsense Spelling
  • Handwriting sessions
  • 20 minutes of DEAR time each day


Phonics at Hillside

RWI Phonics Program

Learning to read is the most important thing children will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.

We want children to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

How do we teach reading in Nursery?     

In Nursery, we enjoy listening to stories, learn lots of new language through stories and play and learn to orally blend by listening to sounds through playing Fred games with the RWI frog.  We begin to learn the pictures for RWI and make links to sounds and letters.

How do we teach reading in Reception?                                            

We continue our teaching of phonics to the children in the Reception class by learning to ‘read’ the sounds in words and seeing how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters.

The children also practise reading (and spelling) what we call ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’.

The children practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start thinking that they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.

The teachers read to the children, too, so the children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing.


How do we assess and support children?                        

We use various ways to find out how the children are getting on in reading. We use the information to decide what reading group they should be in. Children will work with others who are at the same reading level. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. Children will have one-to-one support if we think he or she needs some extra help to keep up.  In the summer term, we complete the phonics screening check with all Year 1 children. That gives us extra information about their progress. 


How long will it take to learn to read well?

We continue to learn new sounds in Year 1 and by the end of Year 2, children should be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 we concentrate more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on. This happens when the teacher reads to the children and also when the children read their own story book.


How do I know the teaching will be good?     

All staff have been trained to teach reading in the way we do it at Hillside Primary and Nursery School. We believe that it is very important that all teachers and teaching assistants work in the same way. Senior teachers watch other teachers teaching to make sure that the children are learning in the way we want them to learn.


How can parents help?

Your child will bring different sorts of books home from school. It helps if you know whether this is a book that your child can read on their own or whether this is a book that you should read to them. Please trust your child’s teacher to choose the book(s) that will help your child the most.

Help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘push’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names. Help your child to focus on the sounds.


Sometimes your child might bring home a picture book that they know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story.

We know parents and carers are very busy people. But if you can find time to read to your child as much as possible, it helps him or her to learn about books and stories. They also learn new words and what they mean. Show that you are interested in reading yourself and talk about reading as a family.



Reading at Hillside

Children are exposed to high quality, age-appropriate texts throughout their time at Hillside. As much as possible, we aim to link our texts to the current curriculum enquiry to allow children to apply prior knowledge and deepen their understanding in that area. Our texts are also chosen based on the richness of learning they bring to our specific reading skills. We aim to cover a wide variety of authors, genres and topics to broaden our children’s horizons and widen their children’s cultural capital.


Reciprocal Reading

Whole class Reciprocal Reading is used as a key lesson in our reading timetable. We find spending the time unpicking a text and modelling specific skills of reading really benefits our children. This session features lots of whole class and partner discussion to allow children to explore a text.

In these lessons, teachers model, and make explicit, the skills and strategies of effective reading on a small section of text, before giving the children an opportunity to practice independently. These key skills are:

  • Predict: what might we read about in the next section? What might this character do next?
  • Clarify: what words and phrases are we unsure of? Can we use our strategies to clarify their meaning?
  • Question: is there anything we are unsure about? Could we ask any questions to deepen our understanding?
  • Summarise: what main ideas are there in this section?


FFT Comprehension Framework

Years 3 to 6 are taught reading through the Fischer Family Trust Reading Comprehension Framework: a set of progressive objectives ensuring children become well-rounded readers who can access and comprehend a text effectively. The Framework covers eight key areas:  

  • Developing positive attitudes to reading (this should be on-going throughout the year through DEAR times, whole school initiatives and other ways you promote reading in the classroom)
  • Understanding the vocabulary used in texts
  • Skills and strategies to read for understanding
  • Expressing, recording and presenting their understanding
  • Understanding the whole text
  • Retrieving information from texts
  • Inferential understanding
  • Reading to find out and to learn


Each half term, a whole school or year group specific strand will be chosen. Autumn 1 focuses on ‘Retrieve information from texts’ while Autumn 2 will have more of a focus on ‘Inferential understanding’, and so on. Year group staff may choose other strands as a focus for their children, identified through NTS assessments and other assessment for learning.

Lessons follow the Hillside lesson design model, ensuring that time is allowed for children to independently practice the learning.


Hillside Readers

At Hillside, we value reading for pleasure and ensure this is a priority at our school. Once children complete the Read Write Inc. Programme, they will continue to grow their love of reading through choosing a book from age-appropriate class libraries.

Children will be recommended books from their class libraries as their individual ‘Hillside Reader’ book. Those able to, will be able to choose their books independently with support from staff recommendations, peer recommendations and, if required, modelling of choosing accessible texts. Staff ensure children are reading appropriate texts through hearing each child read 1:1 at least once weekly. Vulnerable readers or Pupil Premium children are heard at least 3 times each week.

If a child is on the RWI programme, they will read a decodable RWI ‘book bag’ book, which is specifically matched to their stage of learning. As well as this, they are able to choose a ‘book to read and love’ from their class libraries, which is to be read at home with a parent.

DEAR time will take place for 20 minutes each day; this is a fantastic opportunity for our staff to model a love and enthusiasm for reading and allow the children to engage in a high-quality text that they otherwise may not pick up and read.


Writing at Hillside

Through our immersive curriculum, children at Hillside experience writing woven throughout their topics. This engages children through giving writing a purpose and providing a wide-range of communication opportunities.

Through use of our genre progression document and a grammar and punctuation progression document, we ensure children are being challenged appropriately.

Writing units at Hillside follow this structure:

  1. Engage: We hook the children into the genre we will be writing. This could be through a WOW day or an engaging experience to make the children want to write.
  2. Expose: We introduce the children to the genre we will write, identifying both layout and language features.
  3. Skills: We then consider what grammar skills the children will need to be successful.
  4. Plan: Children then have an opportunity to plan out their piece of writing.
  5. Write: With lots of ideas and new skills, children independently write their own version of our genre. 
  6. Edit: We see real value in the skill of editing and ensure children have lots of opportunity to improve their writing.

Children regularly have opportunities to publish their writing, be that through a performance, a presentation to parents or letters delivered to the council!

Partnership Motto

Growing a culture of being the best version of ourselves Look back with pride and forward with confidence