Effective English

Our approach to teaching reading and writing is called Effective English. The approach can be defined in the following way;


  • Open ended in nature, research-based, drama-heavy, visits out, visitors in, exploratory, immersive, creative, no set structure, experiential, practical. More time to explore things properly and slowly.
  • Purpose of this type of lesson is to be enriching, information yielding and highly engaging. A powerful opportunity to share, talk and explore. Invest in time to develop awe and wonder.


  • Highly didactic, teacher agenda driven, closely modelled, explanations, clearly directed, sharp focus, underpinned by success criteria, well paced, bite-sized chunks.
  • Purpose of this type of lesson is to help pupils remember, to scaffold ideas and to practice key aspects. To apply something new learnt, to demonstrate understanding, to polish up newly acquired techniques. Invest in time to provide feedback and strengthen smaller skills.


Lesson Overview


The nature of an initiate aspect can take any form. A text extract to analyse, drama convention to explore characters further, a soundscape to recreate an environment, a film clip to provide a shared plot point or a powerful image to stimulate ideas. Quite frankly, this part of the lesson can be packaged in any way but must serve the purpose of rinsing from it a word and phrase bank that provides a wealth of choice before a model is introduced.


Teachers often talk to me about pupils being over-reliant on a model and ‘just copying it’. To avoid this trap modelling must be presented as a generic construction where the rich word and phrase bank collected previously can be applied to generate various different outcomes but still fulfil the guiding principles locked in the model. It is at this stage teachers need to be crucially aware that the model can be driven through an ideas lens, a grammar lens or a technique lens. The ideas lens from the children’s perspective is known as the FANTASTICs that captures the nine ideas for writing. The grammar lens is known as the GRAMMARISTICs and the technique lens are known as the BOOMTASTICs. This empowers the breath and strength of our model so it entwines all the aspects that contribute to skilled, precise writing whereby there are high levels of control around content, tools and effects.


This learning chunk is the chance for pupils to construct sentences that have be previously demonstrated. Pupils must follow the sentence construction rules laid down by the teacher and they will have many ways they can make choices due to level of input during the initiate phase. Pupils who complete this quickly should be encouraged to ‘deepen the moment’ whereby they make choices to write more about the writing focus and could choose which lens to showcase. ‘Deepen the moment’ requires some training on the teacher’s part so that children really understand the auction of it is to enrich plot points and they are required to write down rather than write on. The auction of this strategy allows purposeful differentiation at the time when higher attaining pupils need but mustn’t be used as time to write on and move the story forward. This is so important so that we stay in control as the teacher of where we are as a collective group of writers within a narrative or non-fiction.

The Initiate-Model-Engage Sequence

One movement through this process is defined as a learning chunk for writing.The most effective lessons move through this process three times on average in an hour lesson which will yield three writing chunks that could equate to three sentences or maybe more across lesson depending on how many sentences become the goal at different learning chunk points.

How we teach Reading

Lesson Overview

‘Book Talk’ is a systematic way to teach reading strategies across the whole school from Year 1 to Year 6. It is underpinned by certain guiding principles, these are outlined below:

Pupils are organised into reading attainment groups and share a set of the ‘same’ books pitched at their level with appropriate challenge.

All pupils in the classroom will be accessing narrative, non-fiction or poetry at the same time.

Pupils will receive a daily 20-30 minute ‘Book Talk’ session and once a week will intensively work with the class teacher for a ‘guided read’

The session is layered with open-ended whole class questions to tackle the three layers of the reading rainbow.

A hallmark of the session is on developing reading for meaning and oral comprehension techniques.

Book Talk is structured with three reasons to read. The reasons to read are taken from ‘The Reading Rainbow’. One reason is taken from the top layer of the rainbow under REMINDERS. The second reason is taken from the COLOURFUL layer. The third reason is taken from the FANTASTIC layer.

These are introduced to the pupils in chunks and it is through these generic lenses they think and discuss their reading material.

The sessions work best if they operate like conversations about books and ‘hands up’ is not used so there is a natural flow of talk about what they are reading.

During these sessions the pleasure principle of reading is fostered and highly engaging picture books should be used in favour of phonic based books to heighten engagement and excitement.

‘Book Talk’ is sharply focused on reading for meaning, listening to friends read and talking about books.

During these sessions pupils could be ‘reading around the group’, reading in pairs or reading to themselves and the teacher will direct them in these different organisational ways.

Ed Newton,
15 Jun 2017, 03:31
Ed Newton,
15 Jun 2017, 03:31