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National Curriculum: Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2)

The curriculum for KS1 & 2 are based on Core and Foundation subjects.

Core Subjects

The teaching and learning of English, is based upon the National Curriculum. We aim to provide the children with purposeful activities in a wide range of curricular contexts to develop the confidence and skills in the wider world. We encourage all parents to be involved in their child's reading and writing with the aim to help the children not only become fluent and independent but develop a life long enthusiasm and enjoyment in reading and writing!

Children are taught to read through the government phonics programme, ‘Letters and Sounds’. We use a range of resources, activities and games to support and embed learning. The reading scheme used across school from EYFS to Key Stage two is Big Cat Collins Education. This scheme is fully aligned with the Letters and Sounds Programme.  

We supplement our reading resources with the Rigby Navigator scheme to ensure we have a balanced and rich coverage of guided reading throughout all year groups.

Teaching Phonics

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes, or letter groups).  As the children progress through the phonics programme, they begin to use their phonic knowledge and skills to read and write words and sentences.

At Melsonby, we teach Phonics through a holistic and multi-sensory approach to ensure we cater for all learning styles. We work from the government programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’ which consists of a six-phase programme starting in EYFS and progressing through Year 1 and Year 2.

Below are definitions to explain some of the terminology used when discussing phonics, we then go on to explain what is entailed in each of the six phases.

What is a phoneme?

It is the smallest unit of sound. In phase 2 it will equate with a letter sound such ‘a’ but as children progress into phase three, it will include the digraphs such as sh, ch, ee, ai               (two letters make one sound).  For example, `bean’ has three phonemes, /b / ea / n.

What is a grapheme?

A grapheme is the printed version of the phoneme.  For example, if I said the sounds c,a,t to a child and asked them to tell me the word then they are hearing the phonemes (the sound the letter makes.) If I showed the children the word c,a,t  on a page then they are using their skill of letter recognition (grapheme, what the sound looks like as a letter.) Once children have good grapheme, phoneme correspondence, then they can start to look at words and sentences independently and begin to read them. 

What is a digraph?

A digraph is when two letters (phonemes) are put together to make a new sound. For example, we know the sound of the letter ‘a’ on its own and the sound of the letter ‘i’ on its own, however, if we put them together to make ‘ai’, we hear a new sound such as in the words train, rain, pain etc.

What is a trigraph?

A trigraph is when three letters (phonemes) are put together to make a new sound. For example, we know the sound of the letter ‘i’ on its own, the letter ‘g’ on its own and the letter ‘h’ on its own, however, if we put them together to make ‘igh’, we hear a new sound such as in the words light, night, fright etc.

What are high frequency words?

High frequency words are those that recur frequently in children’s reading and writing such as and, it, is, but, then, got etc.  Many of these words have little meaning of their own but do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence.  Some of these words are decodable and others are not but in order to help build and support fluency in reading and writing, it helps that children know these words on sight and off by heart.  They are practised everyday through flash card games and challenges to embed recognition.

What are tricky words?

Tricky words are like high frequency words because they appear so often in reading and writing. However, unlike some high frequency words, tricky words cannot be decoded (sounded out) because they do not always fit into the usual spelling patterns that have been taught. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings in them, which is why we learn them on sight by practising through flash cards, games and quizzes every day.

Tricky words are introduced in each phase as follows:

Phase 2:  the to I no go into

Phase 3:  he she me we be was you they all are my her

Phase 4:  said have like so do come some were there little one when out what

Phase 5: oh their people Mr Mrs looked could asked called

What are CVC words?

CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant, for example, a word such as hat, pin and pot are CVC words.  Once children have got a solid understanding of grapheme, phoneme correspondence, they can begin to read and write simple CVC words. As children progress into phase 4, they will go on to blending to read and write CC-VC words such as trip, flap, speed etc. The consonant, consonant at the beginning of a cc-vc word are called blends or clusters because they are two letters close together in a word but keep their own sounds unlike a digraph.

What is blending?

Blending is the process that is involved in bringing each sound in a word together to make the complete word.  For example, c,a,t makes the word cat and  p,i,t makes the word pit. To learn to read well children must be able to smoothly blend sounds together. Blending sounds fluidly helps to improve fluency when reading. Once children can blend CVC words confidently, they can use these skills to blend words of more than one syllable. Blending is more difficult to do with longer words so learning how to blend accurately from an early age is imperative. Showing your child how to blend is important. Model how to ‘push’ sounds smoothly together without stopping at each individual sound.

What is segmenting?

Segmenting is the opposite to blending. When blending, children hear each individual sound and push them together to identify the full word.  Segmenting is when children are given the word and they must identify the beginning, middle and end phoneme that makes up the word. For example, In order to spell the word cat, it is necessary to segment the word into its constituent sounds; c-a-t.

Children often understand segmenting as ‘chopping’ or ‘breaking up’ a word. Before writing it, young children need time to think about it, hear the word and say the word, often several times, to be able to ‘chop’ the word up into its beginning, middle and end sounds and then write it as its word.  

As mentioned earlier, Letters and Sounds works through a six-phase programme.  Below is a brief explanation of what is taught during each phase.

Phase 1

  • Phase 1 = Sound discrimination including environmental sounds and instrumental sounds, rhyme and alliteration and keeping a rhythm and a beat. These auditory skills teach children to discriminate and distinguish between sounds and prepare them for blending and segmenting sounds in words.

Phase 2

  • In Phase 2, children are now developing a good phonological awareness from phase 1 and the teaching of letters and their sounds are introduced, usually four per week.

Sets of letters are taught in the following sequence:

  • Set 1: s,a,t,p  Set 2: i,n,m,d  Set 3: g,o,c,k  Set 4: ck,e,u,r  Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

The children will begin to learn to blend and segment sounds in words to begin to read and write simple words and captions containing only the letters taught so far.


Phase 3

By the time they reach Phase 3, children will be becoming confident to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2.

During Phase 3, twenty-five new graphmes including digraphs and trigraphs are introduced, usually three to four per week.

Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Children will continue to build on their skills of blending and segmenting to read words and sentences using all the graphemes taught so far and also ensuring inclusion of the tricky and high frequency words taught.

Phase 4

By Phase 4 children will be able to represent each of 42 phonemes with a grapheme. They will blend phonemes to read CCVC words which are beginning clusters such as steam, blend etc and CVCC words which are words with end clusters such as help, best etc. and segment these words for spelling. They will also be able to read two syllable words that are simple such as rocket, picnic, panic etc. They will be able to read all the tricky words learnt so far and will be able to spell some of them. This phase consolidates all the children have learnt in the previous phases and they are now becoming independent readers and writers.

Phase 5

Children will be taught new graphemes and alternative patterns/pronunciations for these graphemes and graphemes they already know. They will begin to learn to choose the appropriate grapheme when spelling. The children will be automatically decoding many words for reading by this point.

ay day oy boy wh when a-e make
ou out ir girl ph photo e-e these
ie tie ue blue ew new i-e like
ea eat aw saw oe toe o-e home
au Paul u-e rule

Phase 6

In phase 6 children will be reading longer and less familiar texts independently and fluently. It is crucial that at this point children are now reading to learn and reading for pleasure.  Children should be able to read most of the 300 high frequency words. At this point it is important that comprehension strategies are developed so that children clarify meaning, ask and answer questions about the texts they are reading, construct mental images during reading and summarise what they have read.

In spelling children are introduced to…

  • the adding of suffixes at the end of words including, ed, ing, ful, est, er, ment, ness,en, s, es.  
  • Understand the rules for adding ing, ed, er, est, ful, ly, y to words
  • Investigate how adding suffixes and prefixes change words.
  • Introduce the past tense.
  • The teaching of homophones, for example, bear/bare or be/bee etc.
  • Teaching contracted forms, for example, I am becomes I’m or you are becomes you’re etc.

Throughout this phase children are encouraged to develop strategies for learning spellings.

Syllables To learn a word by listening to how many syllables there are so it can be broken into smaller bits. (e.g. Sep-tem-ber)
Base Words To learn a word by finding its base word. (e.g. jumping- base word jump +ing
Analogy To learn a word use a word that is already learnt. (e.g. could, would, should)
Mnemonics To learn a word by making up a sentence to help remember them. (e.g. could – Oh U Lucky Duck; people -people eat orange peel like elephants
Homophones Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings/meanings. For example sail/sale, see/sea.


What can I do at home?

A great way to engage children at home with phonics is to play games. Matching pairs, snap, sorting words or letters can all be ways to help teach your children. If you have a computer or tablet or phone at home, then below is a list of websites that have fun interactive games for children to play.


Useful website letters and sounds games:

The teaching and learning of Mathematics, is based upon the National Curriculum. The children are given opportunities to develop mental calculation skills through practical work involving problem solving and investigations, as well as learning to work with number, data handling, shape and space, and measurement, using appropriate mathematical language.

As a school, we aim to make the science taught reflect the science of the real world, by combining interest and curiosity with a responsible attitude to health and safety. We want the children to develop skills of scientific enquiry, a pattern of logical thinking, to ask and raise questions, which they can investigate and find answers to for themselves.

Foundation Subjects

Art is a vital element in the educational process by which children can express their ideas, thoughts and feelings. The children have opportunities to use of a wide variety of media and are given experiences to develop their skills progressively.

Design technology provides pupils with the opportunity to think, be creative and solve problems, independently and as members of a team. They will design, construct their own models and be asked to look critically at their inventions to find areas which could be improved.

These subjects are indispensable in understanding the modern world, finding out how the past influences the present and developing the necessary skills with which the children can build their place in society. We aim, especially, to use our local environment as part of the children’s studies.

Each child is given the opportunity to participate and develop skills in gymnastics, games, dance/movement and outdoor activities. During the course of the year all children from year 2 upwards participate in swimming lessons at Richmond Pool. Years 5 and 6 are given the opportunity to experience Outdoor Activities by taking part in a Residential Visit. We believe that the promotion of a healthy lifestyle will not only benefit the children now but also later on in their lives.

‘Pupils are exceptionally aware of the importance of a healthy diet and of taking plenty of exercise. This is reflected in their very enthusiastic involvement in physical education, sport and after-school clubs and the high take-up of healthy school meals.’ OFSTED report July 2011

We offer a variety of musical activities in which all the children are encouraged to participate including extra curricular activities during and after school. Music enables personal and creative expression, reflection and emotional development. Older pupils have the opportunity to have weekly music lessons from a specialist music teacher.

Older pupils are taught French with the support of Richmond Secondary School. Presently class 2 and class 3 have French lessons from our school staff.

We are most fortunate to have computers available to all classes. The children are taught computing skills and use computing to support their work throughout the curriculum. Each teaching area has an Interactive Whiteboard so that computing can be fully integrated appropriately to enhance teaching and learning opportunities. In addition to this the school uses ‘DB’ which is a virtual learning platform (VLP) which serves to extend the learning of our children past the normal hours of the school day.

We are currently running a coding club after school to allow all those pupils who are keen to extend their learning and experience of coding to come along and work with professional programmer.

The school has a Christian tradition and Religious Education is taught in stages according to the age of the children, in accordance with the North Yorkshire Agreed Syllabus. Religious Education is statutory and includes finding out about world religions, relationships with other people and the life of Jesus. The learning is inextricably linked with other aspects of our classroom learning, as well as being taught in stories and assemblies. It forms an integral part of the child’s moral education, in helping him/her to be aware of and sensitive to his/her own feelings and those of others. Collective Worship takes place daily. The Minister of the Methodist Church or the Rector of St. James’ Parish Church from time to time takes part in our assemblies. The school recognises the right of the parent to withdraw their child from collective worship.

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