Epsom Downs Primary School & Childrens Centre

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Curriculum Overview

English is taught in a cross curricular way across the school through theme work. Main theme texts (fiction and non-fiction) are used to provide enhanced reading opportunities. Writing, including grammar and punctuation, are taught in context within a focus genre that supports the theme learning and chosen text.

In addition to cross curricular literacy basic skills in English are promoted through; daily phonic and spelling sessions in EYFS and KS1; daily spelling sessions in KS2 and carousel (guided reading) in KS1 and KS2. 

At the end of every half term the children are tested on a selection of their year group’s statutory spellings. These are displayed from the start of each half term and should be practiced at home and at school. When the children get all of their spellings correct they receive 10 house points!


At Epsom Downs, we promote the quote from Dr Seuss:

“The more you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you'll go"

Our approach to the teaching of reading is through group guided reading in class but there are also individual programmes of support for children who have not yet achieved at least an average standard in reading.  

The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 comprises of two parts:

* word reading

* comprehension (both listening and reading).

It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both these areas. This is done through one-to-one teaching and daily guided reading sessions.

One-to-one reading focuses on word reading. Teachers develop a child’s skills in applying phonics to unknown words, reading for meaning (checking it makes sense) picture cues.

Guided reading focuses on comprehension skills. Weekly, pupils will share a book at their level within a group led by the teacher. The follow-up work focuses on skills such as inference and deduction, skimming and scanning texts.


Phonics formally taught through a carefully differentiated approach based on the Letter and Sounds programme.  All children are taught spelling patterns within their phonics sessions. From year 2 onwards spelling is taught using the No Nonsense Spelling programme. Click here  to find out more.

The table below shows this year’s overview for themes and texts that the English curriculum is  based upon:

Reading Schemes

We do not have one specific scheme, instead we have a variety of non-fiction and fiction books on offer for children to choose which children choose. 

In KS1 these are kept in levelled, colour banded boxes.

KS2 also have access to these.

Additionally, all classes have a designated book area, with a variety of texts for free readers.

Reading Rivers

To encourage children to read at home, and involve parents in their reading, each term across the school we launch the reading rivers. Every child completes his/her river according to what they have read throughout the week. This includes in-school and home reading. Children may have recorded: road signs, maps, cooking instructions, instructions on how to play a game, magazines or comics, sharing a book with an adult or a TV guide.

Total reading time is recorded and there is a certificate for the individual winner in each class and a prize for the class that has read the most, and one for class showing the most improvement.          


 The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

* transcription (spelling and handwriting)

* composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.

Each week 5 lessons are dedicated to English in which writing plays a part and strong cross curricular links are made where possible.  Children also produce writing when learning through foundation subjects (History, RE, Geography, DT) as well as in Science. 

In Foundation Stage, children begin to develop writing in accordance with the Early Learning Goals and the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage document.  Across the school, there are many more opportunities for children to progress in their writing skills as English is the central to our theme-based, creative curriculum.

At Epsom Downs grammar skills are taught and applied alongside an appropriate genre in a cohesive and creative approach. We use the No Nonsense Grammar programme to support the teaching of grammar.

Reading and writing mats

Reading and writing mats are used to set personal targets. In discussion with the teacher, and from personal reflection, the children select targets to aim for as they work. The achievement of these targets is frequently reviewed and used for assessment purposes in the regular Assertive Mentoring meetings. Children are familiar with their personal targets and use them as a prompt when they work.

These mats are linked to the new curriculum. Links to the mats are above (The ‘Stage’ of a mat refers the year group.)

Recorded on the back of the writing mats is the grammar vocabulary that will be taught and embedded throughout the learning in the year for Stages 3-6.

Reading Mats

Writing Mats

Phonics and Spelling

Both phonics and spelling are taught using the ‘teach, practise, apply, revisit’ approach.

Letters and Sounds Programme is followed from nursery to mid– year 2 to support the teaching of phonics. We approach phonics in an active way, and link actions, activities and outdoor learning to the teaching of phonics as well as the daily whole-class input sessions.

From mid-year 2 throughout KS2, spellings are taught in daily 15 min sessions. Spellings are differentiated and recorded in the individual planners. Weekly spelling tests are also recorded in the planners so parents know what their child has achieved and can support them.

Common exception words and statutory word lists:

In line with the new curriculum, year group spellings have been split into half termly tests. Each list is a focus within the class for a half term and is sent home to parents and accessible on the website. For years 2 to 6 the link to this list is at the top of this page.

Dates of the spelling tests this year are:

Test 1—Thursday 24th October 2019

Test 2—Thursday 12th December 2019

Test 3—Thursday 13th February  2020

Test 4—Thursday 26th March 2020

Test 5-Thursday 21st May 2020

Test 6 – Thursday 16th July 2020   

 Year 1 & 2 Common Exception Words

 Statutory National Curriculum Spellings

Parental involvement


Every year, workshops are held during the school day where parents can come and work alongside their child focusing on reading and writing.

One-to-one workshops

The literacy leaders (Roseana Walter, Anya Salisbury, Rachael Steele) and literacy specialist teacher (Cath Kell) offer one-to-one reading workshops, where the parent watches the specialist teacher’s skills as they read with their child, and then strategies are discussed together  afterwards. To book one of these sessions, phone the office. This is offered to parents who are struggling with supporting their reluctant readers, but also to parents who would like to stretch able readers further.

Book Week

Every year in March (in the week World Book Day falls) the school timetable is based around promoting a love of reading, exposing the children to a variety of different texts and embedding literacy skills across the curriculum. In previous years, we have based Book Week around Roald Dahl, William Shakespeare and Anthony Browne and had a focus on geography, art and science. On the Thursday of Book Week, children and staff dress up as a book character and prizes can be won!