Home Page

Bolton Primary School

Caring - Inspiring - Enjoying - Excelling


Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GAPS) at Bolton

GAPS at Bolton

Subject Lead: Ruth Elstone (KS2) and Debbie Tinkler (KS1) (Both since September 2020)

Monitoring Governor: Jane Morris (Since September 2022)



Children need to have a good grasp of the technical aspects to writing to help them to be successful in the future; they need to have ‘tools’ to understand and analyse both written and spoken English. At Bolton, we aim to develop a repertoire of key vocabulary relating to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Punctuation for example can greatly change the meaning of a sentence. Children need to know ‘Standard English’ and know when it is appropriate to use either formal or informal language. Where possible the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar are all embedded in the general teaching of Literacy/English. However, each class has a discreet weekly lesson to focus on particular areas of Punctuation and Grammar and as with reading time is set aside for spelling activities. The children will for example take part in lessons such as ‘Kung-Fu Punctuation’ to help them with their understanding. 




We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and to be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules that they learn in school. Children develop skills to discuss and identify GAPS mistakes and can talk confidently about the impact that grammar and punctuation can have on a reader. As they move through school, they understand why Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling is important and can make informed choices as writers. 

All teachers of English, at Bolton Primary, undertake regular CPD and are committed to fostering a love of Literacy and literature amongst all pupils.



We teach phonics/spelling and reading skills as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support to enable children to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. More able learners are also given opportunities to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding through being encouraged to provide extended answers, or targeted questioning requiring more reasoned answers and making greater links across and between texts.

Phonics: (Early Years and Key Stage 1) Pupils focus on individual sounds, groups of sounds and common exception words within different ‘phases.’ We have an agreed progression for the teaching of new sounds and use Letters and Sounds resources to support this. Children that need to revisit and need further consolidation are given additional support from teachers and teaching assistants as part of planned interventions that take place in addition to the lesson. During the Summer Term in Year 1, pupils undertake a Phonics Screening Test which assesses their ability to apply what they have learnt. Lessons move towards whole class reading lessons that take a similar model from Years 1 to 6. Pupils who do not pass their Phonics Screening Test continue to have intervention to support the acquisition of these key skills.


We teach English as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support to enable pupils to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. This may involve a greater level of scaffolding and access to additional support materials such as Word Banks, Sentence Openers or a greater level of modelling. More able learners are given opportunities to extend their knowledge in a variety of ways, including through showing greater control in their writing, a deeper understanding of the impact that their writing has on the reader and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammatical features. There is a distinct weekly writing session to build stamina and pleasure in writing and consolidate GAPS learning. Part of these sessions will include ‘Slow Write’ and up levelling activities that really focus on demonstrating and teaching mastery of grammatical and punctuation techniques.


Spellings: Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum. Teachers use The Spelling Book as our Scheme to support their teaching and to provide activities that link to the weekly focus. Children no longer have spelling lists and tests. The teaching of spelling is done in 3 ways grouping, improving and acquiring. The key thinking is that this new approach to spelling is that it opens up the ‘wonder of words’ and encourages retention and building up of new vocabulary in a meaningful way. Pupils (using the marking code) are required to identify some of their own spelling errors by using the dots symbol (underneath the part that looks incorrect).  Identifying errors and self-correcting time is regularly given in sessions in an age-appropriate way. When marking work, teachers may also use the dots symbol over the misspelt part of a word to encourage the pupil to check and edit the word at a convenient moment.  


Grammar and Punctuation: Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through an embedded approach in the English lessons as much as possible. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome. Teachers do also have a discreet GAPs lesson to focus on particular grammar and punctuation skills as standalone lessons, particularly when it is to introduce new content or something that children are finding particularly challenging. Children are encouraged to use the ‘marking code’ to self-correct grammar and punctuation in their writing pieces. Similarly, teachers will give feedback by using aspects of the marking code e.g. using the symbol 'P' to denote missing or incorrect punctuation.


Staff regularly undertake CPD opportunities in English and ensure that their English delivery is of a high standard.

Parents can access a wide range information through the website about the English Curriculum at Bolton about phonics progression, reading and writing genres and texts that we are studying in detail.  



Teachers are competent and confident delivering this subject and keep up to date with current thinking and developments. Students care about GAPS accuracy and show increasing control over their choices. They have acquired a good range of vocabulary/ terminology associated with SPAG and can discuss their own and authors' choices. Parents/ Carers know how they can support with GAPS through information and support from school and through Google Classroom homework activities. 


The impact of our English Curriculum on our children is clear: good progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. We are confident that as children move on from Bolton to secondary education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do. Children leave Bolton Primary School with the tools to talk about the technical aspects of writing and can communicate clearly through writing.


Please see our English at Bolton document below for more information, including our policy, progression of skills and long term plans.