Through our English program we aim to create confident, creative communicators with the language tools they need to succeed in every area of their learning. At ISB we combine an emphasis on reading for pleasure with a focus on grammar and writing skills. In order to achieve this, our Literacy program is under-pinned by four core principles:

  • Varied Whole Class Texts
  • Real Purpose and Audience
  • Talk for Writing
  • Contextualised Grammar

Varied, Whole Class Texts

Carefully chosen books help develop children’s reading skills, their knowledge of the world around them, and build up a store of books to draw on later in life. At ISB we use a range of good quality whole texts covering a range of different genres and styles.

Real Purpose and Audience

When writing is done for a real purpose or audience it takes on real meaning. Some of our units have a performance or publication outcome where the children know they will be sharing their finished work! These can be found in the ‘Live Units’ box below.

Talk for Writing

Talking about language choices has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s writing. Oral rehearsal (saying what you’re going to write before you write it) helps children develop a sense of what a sentence is and, later, to hear what more complex sentences sound like. It helps them hear the difference between the way we talk and the way we write. Throughout our literacy curriculum, children are given many opportunities to discuss their learning and rehearse what they are going to write about before they put pen to paper.

Contextualised Grammar

To become a great writer, children need to understand how great writing is put together. Within our literacy program, grammar teaching is embedded within the texts we read to help our children understand particular grammar features and its possible effect on writing. Our attention to grammar is explicit, clearly explained and linked to meaning and effect.


Alongside the four main principles, there is a specific focus on the teaching of reading. This consists of two dimensions:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (both listening and reading)

At ISB we focus on developing the pupils’ competence in both areas and different kinds of teaching are needed for each.

In Key Stage 1 the children follow a structured phonics program in order to develop the skills in grapheme-phoneme correspondence and blending sounds into words which they then apply to their own reading.

In Key Stage 2 the focus is directed more towards developing vocabulary, breadth and depth of reading in order to create independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers. There is a greater focus on comprehension and learning to justify their views with evidence from the text.

Our reading books are organized into book bands which incorporate a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. The children are assessed and placed on the appropriate colour and then monitored, moving to the next colour band when the class teacher feels they are ready. After the colour band system, children move onto higher levels with the aim of them becoming free readers by the time they get to upper key stage 2.