English at Bessemer


At Bessemer, the study of English is used to develop the children’s skills and abilities in speaking and listening, writing, spelling and reading, so that the children become confident and competent in communicating their ideas across a range of different contexts and for a variety of purposes.


Speaking and Listening

Children at Bessemer develop their speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. We follow and adapt Dramatic Progress in Literacy and Literacy Tree units, where the children are immersed in a text through drama and rehearse their writing through talk and performance.


At Bessemer, we use the English National Curriculum as a basis for planning our lessons. Lessons are taught through the use of high quality texts which are often linked to the half-termly topic. The teaching sequence begins with the immersion of the text through the use of an engaging starting point, using drama with speaking and listening activities, as well as gathering initial ideas. Word and sentence level skills are then taught within the context of the text. We teach these skills across different text types including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Sometimes, the writing is teacher modelled, sometimes it is supported or shared. Also, throughout each unit, there are planned opportunities for the children to produce independent pieces of writing, as a means of applying their skills and developing their creativity.

Topic lessons also support the development of writing throughout the school. Once every half term, classes have a ‘Topic writing week’ where the English lessons focus purely on Topic work. The children produce a non-fiction report on what they have been learning in Topic, while also applying their English skills.


At Bessemer, we teach a new spelling pattern each week. Up until Year 2, these patterns are linked to Phonics. Beyond 2, we use our the ‘Spelling Rocket Card’ which links to the spelling rules that need to be learnt in each year group. Children given each spelling / Phonics homework each week to support them and then they will attempt an informal ‘test’ once a week based on the homework. The tests are designed to be informal so that the spelling patterns can be discussed and practised constructively, sometimes in pairs or groups.



Children at Bessemer have the opportunity to read daily through a combination of independent reading, 1:1 reading, Guided Reading and whole class reading lessons. 1:1 reading is used as a tool for developing intonation and expression, an awareness of punctuation and author style, as well as providing targeted support for individual readers.

Beyond Year 1, Guided Reading takes place three times a week and whole class reading comprehension lessons take place twice a week.

During Guided Reading, the children are grouped according to ability and share a text with their peers, encouraging book talk, characterisation and their ability to raise their own questions.

During whole class reading comprehension lessons, children develop a deeper understanding of a short passage of a shared text. Key themes are discussed and strategies for developing word level and comprehension skills are modelled. Having explored the text in detail, the children then apply their knowledge and understanding to a range of retrieval, inference and deduction questions with different layouts, formats and for different purposes. At the end of the lesson, answers are reviewed to provide immediate feedback.

We use a combination of reading schemes including Collins Big Cat, Rigby Star, Reading Eggs and PM Benchmark. Children also have the opportunity to read high quality chapter and picture books, e-books, real life non-fiction texts and topic books linked to their learning. Furthermore, the children are given the opportunity to access different stories by a number of famous authors using audiobooks.

We are subscribed to First News and allow the children the opportunity to read and respond to texts using laptops through Reading Eggs. Children are able to access the Reading Eggs program at home and can access texts that are specifically catered to their ability. Please contact your child’s class teacher if you require the details for accessing Reading Eggs at home.

Children at Bessemer are encouraged to read daily at home. Each child has a reading card, as a means of recording which books have been read and the progress made. Children in Early Years have a reading diary so that parents/carers and school staff can write to each other to record progress in more detail.  Reading Diary Comment tips

Children who read regularly at home are rewarded with stickers, wristbands, bookmarks and certificates which are presented during the Rewards Assembly each week.

Book recommendations for different ages

Parent Workshops

Please refer to the ‘Parents Workshop’ section of the school website and the school diary for any dates of future workshops.


In KS1, phonics is taught daily for a period of 25 minutes. We have combined the Codebreakers Phonic Scheme alongside Letters and Sounds to create a program tailored to the needs of the children within our school. Phonics is taught through the modelling of sounds, visual clues, actions and repetition. Early Years and KS1 Phonics Workshops are delivered to parents to develop a shared understanding of what the children are learning in school.

Helpful Phonics Websites for Parents


Handwriting is taught several times each week for a period of 10 to 15 minutes using the Letter-join Handwriting Scheme. In Early Years and KS1 handwriting is taught alongside phonics, while in KS2 handwriting is embedded alongside word level work and spellings. Click on the link below to access the Letter-join Scheme.

Please see details below to support accessing Letter-join at home.

Letter-join is the handwriting scheme that we use in school. We have a parent subscription where you can watch online tutorials of how letters and words are formed through the scheme, complete pre-set activities and create your own worksheets. In school, we often link our handwriting to the spellings and sounds that we are learning. If using a tablet device, children can learn to use their fingers to practise forming letters.
Description: letterjoin

If using Letter-join on a tablet device, you will need to use the following details:
Username: bessemer
Swipe code: a capital ‘L’ shape starting at the top left
Click on where it says ‘Tablet login’ first.

If using Letter-join on a computer, you will need to use the following details:
Username: bessemer
Password: grange

Please note: Letter-join recommends that you use Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari for the best compatibility.