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English & Modern Foreign Languages

At Stepgates we take pride in our English Curriculum, and the depth of study which pupils are immersed into through teaching. Each class studies a focus text which links to their current topic and inspires writing, reading and vocabulary progression. These books are carefully chosen with children's interests, learning and opportunities in mind. Please come and visit our school to see what each class is enjoying at the moment!


By the end of their Stepgates journey, we want children to be confident readers, to be able to listen to others and use appropriate vocabulary to express their wants and needs. We wish for all children to be able to use their knowledge of spoken language to inform written language, fit for purpose and audience.

By ensuring a curriculum that is progressive in both teaching and expectation, children will be given daily opportunity to practice embedding the skills that will enable these outcomes to be achieved. Through cross-curricular teaching and focus texts to engage a variety of interests, opportunities are consistent and holistic. Through consistent assessment, all learners are afforded the opportunity for both same day and weekly intervention to address misconceptions, and further develop talented linguists and writers.



At Stepgates, we are teaching children to learn to read by using the revised Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Scheme. Through a systematic, synthetic phonics (SSP) program, progression is steady, secure and tangible. This scheme is linked with reading books that our children practice with adults during school time, rehearsing through the segmenting and blending of phonemes (sounds) or graphemes (written letters) they have been learning about in their classes. We ensure the curriculum is accessible to all by using the rapid catch up scheme for those unable to access whole class teaching with security, and implement the SEND strand of Little Wandle for children identified by assessment for a slower paced, more explicit teaching route. Only when this is secure, do children advance to a spelling program. Children in Key Stage 1 are assessed for fluency and comprehension on a consistently rolling basis, and books that align with this assessment are sent home to read for enjoyment and to inspire conversation with those at home. Once children have completed the Little Wandle program, they are invited to take a ‘Star Reader Quiz’ to determine reading level, age and interest appropriate books to progress within our extensively resourced library. Once a book is finished, children must take a quiz to ensure comprehension about their recently read book in order to continue moving through the library, choosing their own books according to curiosity. This is monitored closely by staff. Alongside a focus text for study in each classroom, to inspire writing, every class at Stepgates ends the day with a story, this fosters a love of reading and ensures a calm, collected end to the day before children leave for their homes.

The video below shows the correct 'pure' pronunciation of each of the phonemes.

Clear pronunciation of each phoneme assists in blending them together to make the word.

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Below are some suggestions of questions to ask your child when they are reading. Asking these questions will help children with their comprehension skills.

Before Reading

Show your child the book cover and read the description. After he or she has had some time to consider what the title and other introductory features could indicate about the story, ask your child what he or she thinks will happen and have your child explain why he or she thinks that. It is also good to ask the following:

  • What kind of characters do you expect to be in the story?
  • Where and when do you think the story takes place?
  • Do you think there will be conflict or any sort of problem in the story?
  • Do you think you will be able to relate the story to your life or our family?

Having your child consider these and other similar questions will not only encourage the development of intellectual skills; he or she will also get excited about reading the story. Making a child curious about the story will help them focus during the story.

While Reading

While you and your child are reading the story it is best to stop periodically to ask questions. This will help you monitor if your child is still paying attention and understanding the plot.  

Some good questions to ask include:

  • What can you tell me about the story and the characters so far?
  • What do you think will happen next, and how do you think this story will end?
  • What would you have done if you were one of the characters in the story?
  • Why do you think they have acted the way they have?
  • What did you see in your head during that last scene?
  • What are you thinking about as you read?

If your child's answers indicate he or she does not fully understand what has happened in the story, don't be afraid to backtrack and re-read any confusing details.  Additionally, don't forget to share with your child your own thoughts. Remember though, the goal is to conduct a literary discussion, not an interrogation! It is also useful to discuss the meaning of any unfamiliar vocabulary. Children could be encouraged to keep a note of any interesting words so that they can use them in their written work.

After Reading

Now that you both know the ending of the story, you can re-examine your prior predictions and see how close you were. You can also discuss together why the author had the story end the way it did and how a different ending would have a much different impact or feeling. Other points of discussion are:

  • Do you think the title was appropriate or would you have named it something different?
  • What was the story's problem and how was it solved?
  • Are there other ways it could have been solved?
  • Who do you think was the main character? If you were them, how would you feel throughout the story?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this book? What was the point of the story?


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