Marsh Hill, Erdington, Birmingham B23 7HY | Telephone: 0121 464 2920

Core Subjects

English: Reading

Our goal at Marsh Hill is for all children to leave our school not only as a fluent and competent reader, but as a lifelong lover of reading! We try to share what we most enjoy about reading and encourage the children to read new genres and ever more challenging texts.

The Teaching of Reading at Marsh Hill Primary School

At Marsh Hill, reading is taught in many ways to facilitate the learning styles and needs of all the children and opportunities for reading are filtered throughout the entire curriculum. We use a phonics scheme called Read Write Inc (Ruth Miskin). Your child will learn to read in Reception by being taught one letter sound a day. It is important that children are taught to read the letter sounds initially, rather than the letter names, as the letter sounds help us to read.

Set 1 sounds: m, a, s, d, t, I, n, p, g, o, c, k, ck, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk

Pupils will be taught early reading through Read, Write, Inc. This scheme helps pupils to pick up reading quickly and with enthusiasm. Once they have been taught Set 1 letter sounds they will then begin to orally blend words. For instance, sound talking c-a-t to blend (read) cat! As soon as your child is able to orally blend simple words they will then be taught to read simple Set 1 words such as pet and ship, by pressing the letters with their finger, saying each sound in the word e.g. p-e-t and blending the sounds together to read ‘pet!’ Soon your child will then become confident in reading words with Set 1 sounds. At this stage they will then learn to read longer words such as drum, clap and frog and then progress onto learning Set 2 sounds. Pupils at the end of Reception should be confident in reading Set 2 words such as; light, fair and road.

We offer several parent workshops to support your child with early reading at home and to discuss Read, Write, Inc in more detail. If you do have any questions, your child’s class teacher would be more than happy to help. Alternatively, follow this Read Write Inc link to find out more information.

Guided Reading Sessions

From Reception to Year 4, every class has 4 guided reading sessions a week where each child will have the opportunity to read to an adult at least twice a week. During these carefully planned and tailored lessons, children will be encouraged to apply their decoding skills and develop their comprehension skills by discussing the text they are reading and asking/answering questions about it. In Years 5 and 6, children will be taught reading strategies and have lessons developing their comprehension skills at least 3 times a week which are integrated into their English lessons. We use a range of texts from the Oxford Reading Tree and Phonics Bug to support the developlment of comprehension skills within Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Talk For Reading: Oral Comprehension

Even when our children are fluent and competent readers, we recognise the importance for them to continue to practice reading skills and develop their reading comprehension. In order to deepen the children’s understanding of the texts they read, they are taught Oral Comprehension where they explore the texts and discuss them with guidance from their teacher. During these sessions, children are encouraged to share their thoughts and make links to their own experiences as well as critically challenge the ideas of others using evidence from the text to justify their reasons. The children absolutely love these lessons, as do the staff!

Reading for a Purpose

Research lessons are built into our Topic and Science lessons to allow our children to use their reading skills that they have learnt as part of their non-fiction reading sessions.  Children will be taught and encouraged to use scanning and skimming techniques to retrieve information quickly and gain the needed information. They will also use the non-fiction features that they have been taught to facilitate them including the index, subheadings and context pages.

Encouraging a Love of Reading...

To encourage the love of reading, each classroom has a Reading Corner with a range of fiction and non-fiction texts which are age appropriate for the children. There are also key topic books which link to the topics taught so the children can research information. To begin our afternoons, each child will engage in ERIC (Everyone Reading In Class) for a minimum of 10 minutes where the children and teachers can enjoy a quiet moment to escape into a book of their choice. This activity can be easily adapted and used at home!  At the end of each day, all classes will be read to by the Class Teacher or Teaching Assistant, even Year 6!

Our School Library

In 2015, our school library was officially opened by the fantastic children’s author, Steve Smallman! We have thousands of books (fiction and non-fiction) which cover a wide range of topics. The children visit the library every week with their class and have access to it during lunchtimes, with the help of our trusted and trained Year 6 Librarians.

Reading At Home

Most important of all... read with your child at home! Every week, levelled reading books are sent home with reading journals. The reading journal must be completed by an adult once they have read with their child. We encourage parents to read with their child on a daily basis.

English: Writing

English is taught using the Talk for Writing strategy originally developed for the National Strategies by Pie Corbett and Julia Strong. In Talk for Writing, teaching is implemented at three different levels, these being: teacher talk - the verbalisation of the reader’s or writers thought processes as the teacher is demonstrating, modelling and discussing; supported pupil talk - which utilises structured and scaffolded opportunities for pupils to develop and practice talk for writing through class and group conversations and activities; independent pupil talk - which provides opportunities for pupils to develop and practise;talk for writing individually - in pairs and in small groups independently of the teacher.

Click Talk for Writing to find out more information.

Pupils in Year 1 are taught in RWI ability groups for 45 minutes and then return to their classes for 45 minutes of focus on developing their writing skills. In Year 2, RWI is taught as an intervention for reading. The pupils are taught English for 1 hour per day, every day. A target group is taught by an additional teacher. In Years 3, 4 and 5, pupils have 1 hour of English Writing 5 times per week. Talk for writing is used to teach writing skills. During the 1 hour of English Writing, children learn grammar skills, which are linked to the genre, as a lesson starter for 15 minutes and 15 minutes of spellings 3 times a week. Children are taught as a class with differentiated activities. The teachers focus on a group to support and the teacher allocates a group to be supported by the Teaching Assistant. The children are taught different writing skills for 4 days. The skills lead to a piece of sustained writing during the week. 

Learning in Year 6 is organised into three mixed ability groups that are taught separately. Talk for writing is used to teach writing skills. Children get 3 sessions a week of 15 minutes spellings and 4 sessions of 15 minutes for grammar. They get 3 sessions of 45 minutes to practise a writing skill plus 1 session of 45 minutes to write a complete piece of writing each week.


We have placed a particular focus on improving and raising standards in spelling.  We place the highest expectations on children’s spelling in all their work, supporting them with a repertoire of resources, including common word lists, to help them when they write.

Follow this link to view the recommended spelling lists: National Curriculum for Spelling


Mathematics is taught daily using mental maths skills and strategies. The Abacus Maths Scheme of Work is used as part of a range of planning tools that support and enhance teaching and learning.

The teaching of arithmetic skills is a key concept across the whole school, were multiplication and division mental facts are taught through a scheme called Superheros. We also subscribe to a website called TT Rockstars. Within KS1, children experience daily counting through various practical activities, including songs. Children have opportunities to discuss their thinking within daily maths lessons as well as promoting their justifying and reasoning skills - this is often through peer-to-peer discussions. Children are given the opportunity to apply their skills in a range of contexts.  There is a key focus on broadening children’s knowledge to master the mathematical concepts being taught. A range of manipulatives are used to develop concepts in every year group.

When introducing a concept for the first time, concrete materials are used to develop the understanding and then allows children to deal with the abstract when they ready. Development is based on learning models which promote a process of stages in learning maths i.e. practical, pictorial and finally symbolic (abstract). It is understood that any ability child in any age group may need concrete materials to bridge any gaps in understanding to achieve their own successes.