Literacy Zone

Talk 4 Writing

In September 2015 we started using Talk 4 Writing across the school. We started of learning stories including ‘The Little Red Hen’ ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ and many more.

Talk for Writing was developed by Pie Corbett and is supported by Julia Strong. It is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the key language they need orally before reading and analysing it and writing their own versions. The children learn a structure through fun activities, helping them to rehearse the language they need. They are then part of a shared write showing them how to write in a similar style, identifying key features of the learnt text. T4W has 3 stages: Imitation, Innovation and Invention with the aim of the whole process being to create independent, enthusiastic authors. KS2 have since started to use Talk 4 Writing with non-fiction texts including recounts, instructional writing and poetry.

Here are some pictures of Talk 4 Writing from across the school:

Big Write

The Big Write approach has been developed by Ros Wilson. At English Martyrs we work towards a final written piece of work through a cyclical structure which becomes consistent to the children and well known. The Big Write highlights the importance of talk and oral rehearsal as well as embedding accurate basic skills such as spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting. A typical Big Write week consists of a clear text type or genre to be explored, a clear understanding of what features are evident in that particular genre, a VCOP (Vocabulary, Conjunctions, Openers and Punctuation) session focusing on a key skill required for the children to successfully write independently, the opportunity to plan and research for their final written piece and finally a 30 minute silent, unaided write which becomes a special time.

Here are some of our VCOP displays from around the school and pieces of our Big Write:

Role Play areas

We have wonderful role play areas in every year group at English Martyrs and by Year 6 these are known as ‘Our Independent Area’. Role play is an effective learning tool and it encourages children to become active participants in their learning. Whether they are putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, wearing costumes and using props, communicating, making decisions, learning from their peers alongside applying what they have learnt in literacy lessons independently.

Each class changes their Role Play area according to their topics – some of our Role Play areas have included; a dentist, garden center, chocolate factory, the town information center, museum and a zoo. By these Role Play areas being linked to our topics children are able to explore real life contexts with opportunities to develop writing skills.

Across the school we have started to use Role Play Literacy cards which give the Role Play areas a real literacy focus. Children have a range of activities to complete whilst they are in their Role Play area. These can vary from writing letters of applications, character descriptions, posters and lists to filming themselves on iPads as if they were shooting a TV commercial or for a TV program! The opportunities for Speaking & Listening, descriptive writing and comprehension are endless.

Here are some of the role play areas around our school and some of our Role Play cards:

Outdoor learning

We are very fortunate to have such a lovely outside area. We have a wooden story area where we can listen to stories in the summer as a class. We have chalk boards in our outside areas as well as new clear boards on the playground to write on!


Here at English Martyrs we have a fantastic library with a fabulous range of books! We have our very own Reading Mentor Mr Harrison who has had a number of his own books published. Mr Harrison holds sessions over lunch time including story sessions, editing club and… We have a real love for reading at our school and you can always catch us with a book whenever we get the chance, in the library, in our outside areas, in our book corners and just generally in class.

Every classroom has a reading area with a range of books suitable for our age! Our reading at home is also acknowledged, we are awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold reading certificates for 50, 100 and 150 reads…we have recently had to add a Platinum level for 200+ reads! As a class we are also in on a challenge! Mr Harrison keeps note on how many books we read, he questions us about our books and we earn class points…The class with the most reading points at the end of each half term gets awarded the reading trophy!

As well as all this we are very fortunate to have such a wonderful group of Parent helpers who we call our ‘Parent Reading Army’! They are invited to training at English Martyrs before giving up their time during the school day to come into class and read with children on a 1-2-1 basis. Our Parent Reading Army offer …

Here are pictures of us reading around the school:


At English Martyrs handwriting is an important part of our writing and learning. Children participate in handwriting sessions weekly in small groups and every year group from EY through to Y6 spend 10 minutes a day participating in a class handwriting session. In Year 3 pupils can ‘earn’ our Pen Licenses. These are awarded when the child shows they know which letters can be joined and which ones are best left un-joined, their letters are clear and formed correctly, tall letters are tall, and long letters are long. The children’s writing needs to be like this consistently in all subjects not just in Literacy books!

Here is a copy of our School Handwriting Policy:

Big Top 40 Final
A list of our top picks for reading at home – and lots of hints and tips too!!!!

Climbing the Mountain
An essential guide for overcoming reading reluctance.

Fred Time Homework Information
How to get the most out of our ‘Fred Time’ books and support your child’s phonics development at home.

Unlocking the Pleasure of Reading
Our most comprehensive guide to giving your child the greatest gift of all – a life-long love of reading!

Fred Time
Early Reading and Writing at English Martyrs

Progression in Fred Time
Read Write Inc, Oxford Reading Tree, Book Band Correlation Chart

A guide to early literacy development at English Martyrs.

Summer Reading Challenge 2013
Summer Reading Challenge 2014
Some ideas for how to keep those reading muscles flexed over the long summer break…

Circle Time
An information guide on a crucial aspect of the school’s work on developing your child’s personal, social and communication skills.

English Grammar Card
All the need-to-know terms clearly explained, in just two sides of A4!

Phonics at English Martyrs
A handy guide to our main scheme for teaching phonics.

Story Mat
Unlock your child’s inner author with this useful homework resource.