Gillespie Primary School
Gillespie Road, Highbury, London, N5 1LH
T: 020 7226 6840 F: 020 7354 8537
Gillespie Primary School | English
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We aim to provide a high quality education in English which will teach pupils to speak, read and write fluently and enable them to understand and communicate ideas and emotion to others. We want to inspire a love for literature, poetry and reading which will give them a window to a world of possibilities.

At Gillespie, we are committed to developing our children’s speaking & listening, reading and writing skills and knowledge so that they are confidently literate. We also want to encourage a passion for reading so that our children enjoy immersing themselves in high quality literature. This enjoyment will in turn help to inspire their writing and give them the tools to become independent learners.

Reading and writing are at the heart of the school day. The majority of our written work is cross-curricular and teachers create meaningful links between topics to ensure writing lessons are engaging. Emphasis is placed on using high quality literature as a stimulus for writing and teachers consider the importance of finding meaningful purposes for writing that inspire the children.

Gillespie teachers are also engaged with the ‘let’s think in English’ cognitive acceleration programme, along with colleagues in our Education Improvement Partnership, Futurezone, which draws on research by Vygotsky and Piaget. The ‘let’s think’ lessons use English texts and support the development of understanding through structured discussion, problem solving (cognitive challenge) and structured reflection (metacognition). This helps pupils to become more aware of their thinking processes which support the development of inference, deduction and analysis.



We want children to develop a passion for reading that will last a lifetime. Children are encouraged to read for pleasure and to read across the curriculum to support their knowledge and understanding in all core and foundation subjects. Reading lessons are taught consistently as part of the weekly teaching and learning sequence of English lessons so that children are taught the skills necessary for interrogating texts. We also allocate daily time to teach reading:

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) we promote a love of reading by sharing stories on a daily basis. We are committed to doing this all through your child’s journey through the school. In the EYFS, children are encouraged to re-tell familiar stories, rhymes and songs using props, actions and role-play. We develop phonetical awareness using ‘letters and sounds ‘

In Y1& Y2, children continue to learn phonics systematically through ‘letters and sounds’. Teachers supplement this scheme with commercial schemes such as ‘Jolly phonics’ which includes the Jolly phonics music scheme which links sounds to songs and rhymes as part of our approach to teaching music in the early years. Guided reading is used to ensure that all children have a daily reading focus with an adult to teach & support them to develop their fluency and comprehension.

In years 3 to 6, we use a range of approaches including whole class reading and targeted guided reading to enable all children to make progress. Children are introduced to rich and challenging texts. Children complete a range of tasks based on their class text. These tasks focus on specific reading skills such as predicting, inferring characters feelings or retrieving information using evidence from the text. Teachers choose high quality texts that will enable children to develop their reading skills and encourage reading for pleasure. Where possible, teachers choose texts that relate to class topics.

Every year, we take part in the fantastic ‘Islington Reading Road Map’, which is a borough wide initiative to introduce children, parents and teachers to new genres and authors. Each class has the current selection of books and teachers encourage reading texts from this selection. We also additionally purchase books from this collection for our school library.

We have a ‘buddy reading’ system where each class collaborates with another class so that older and younger children read with their reading friend once a week.

Each classroom has a book corner, with a selection of fiction and non-fiction texts which children are free to borrow. We also have a wonderful library, which each class visits to select books to read at home. During each week, children are given time to read books of their choosing from our class book corners and school library. We celebrate national events including ‘World Book day’.

We are lucky to have a team of fantastic volunteers, including many parents who read with children from around the school on a weekly basis.

We sing (and read) songs in all classes in assemblies across the week and in music lessons and believe this also supports the development of language and reading fluency.



At Gillespie, teachers plan writing opportunities linked to termly history, geography, science or RE topics. We ensure that there is a meaningful outcome for a variety of genres so that children are given a real purpose for their writing. Teachers use texts linked to topics and stimulating first hand experiences to inspire writing.

During a unit of work, children are given the opportunity to use drama and discussion to develop their speaking and listening skills. We recognise the importance of writing as a process. Children have regular opportunities to gradually draft and develop their final pieces of writing. Children are given time to edit and improve their written work after feedback from their teacher. The teaching of grammar is interwoven into daily reading and writing lessons so that children are given the opportunity to learn grammar in context.



Each class has a weekly spelling lesson based on the ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ scheme. The spelling pattern and word list is shared with parents as part of children’s weekly homework. They are also displayed in classrooms so that children are encouraged to use these words in their writing.

The Gillespie Spelling Bee is a school wide competition that inspires and challenges our children to learn spellings from the national curriculum statutory spelling lists. We finish this event with a celebration of those children who have won the competition but also those who have shown dedication to learning these important spellings.


In KS1 and KS2 we teach the English national curriculum – please see our ‘Subject overview’ page for full details of the programme of study taught in each key stage.


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