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Bolton Primary School

Caring - Inspiring - Enjoying - Excelling


Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GAPS)

GAPS at Bolton

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

Monitoring Governor: Lisa Wilson (Since September 2020)



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. 




At Bolton Primary School we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening. Our aim is that all pupils should have the opportunity to be fluent, confident readers who are able to successfully comprehend and understand a wide range of texts. We want pupils to develop a love of reading, have a good knowledge of a range of authors and poets, and be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the knowledge they gain from texts. By the end of their time at primary school, all children should be able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject. We do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both word reading and comprehension skills, and so we encourage a strong home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through good quality texts.


We believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. 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. We believe that being able to ‘talk’ confidently about what you are writing about is an important part of the writing process. Verbally rehearsing sentences is something that will feature in classrooms, lower down the school. We want our children to write clearly, accurately, and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a good, joined, handwriting style. We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want children to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in pieces of writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process. Like in reading, we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both grammar, spelling and composition skills, and so we encourage a strong home-school partnership.


We aim to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning. Speaking and listening is central to our curriculum and is developed from EYFS throughout our school and across the curriculum. We nurture children’s speaking and listening skills through a variety of approaches: exploratory play, story time, hot-seating, philosophy sessions (P4C), Class and School Council and through collaborative learning. In English lessons, particularly, Speaking and Listening is prioritised, and teachers are continuously introducing new vocabulary, encouraging the expansion and elaboration of verbal ideas and comments, along with good demonstration of standard English. Teachers promote speaking in full sentences and standard English proficiently from all our pupils.  We develop these skills so that our children can express their own ideas clearly and confidently, in a safe and supportive environment, in all aspects and areas of their school life and to prepare them for the next stage.

We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledgebase in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum.  A secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.


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 have a whole school reading scheme (banded books) that ensures progression in both word reading skills and comprehension – mainly Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cats. The scheme is structured to ensure that children have access to a wide range of texts and allows for pupils to develop their skills within a level before moving on. We are also developing our Non-Fiction Library and purchasing books recommended by the Library Service (Jan 20). All pupils have a home-reading record which they are encouraged to take home daily. Parents and carers are asked to add comments to the home-reading records to indicate how much pupils have read and/ or any concerns. Children receive stickers for achieving the ‘Strive to Five’ home reads and we currently have an age-appropriate ‘Bedtime Book Basket’ for all classes. Once a week the children read with their peer partners or buddies to further promote reading for pleasure and an opportunity to practice and develop reading aloud skills.


We use Literacy Shed Plus and The Power of Reading resources. The children are familiar with the six reading domains taught through VIPERSVocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summarise (or Sequence KS1). The children are also taught about comprehension question types e.g. Right There Questions, Think and Search Questions and Author and Me Questions - age-appropriately. Some children on Support Plans receive extra reading support and this is monitored.


We promote ‘Reading for Pleasure’ with vibrant displays, book recommendations/ reviews, author research and caring for the library/ library volunteers. This year (21/22), we are particularly promoting the reading, reciting, and performing of poetry and reading non-fiction.


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 writing 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 grammar features. There is a distinct weekly writing session to build stamina and pleasure in writing. Part of these sessions will include ‘Slow Write’ and up levelling activities.


Each year group has an overview of the writing genres - narrative, poetry and non-fiction, that they will be taught. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as build on skills from year to year. Units will vary in length, within each unit there will be an opportunity to complete an ‘Extended Write’ which will be used to assess the pupil’s skills against the agreed success criteria. In Y5/6, the genres are taught in more depth and the units take longer to cover. Every narrative unit is linked to a carefully chosen text that acts as a stimulus for teaching the identified text, word and sentence level features that children will be expected to include in their extended writing outcome for that unit. Sometimes a WAGOLL (or similar) – What a good one looks like – is created based on the stimulus text and supports pupils to identify and learn from the identified features in their own writing. Non-fiction units where possible are also taught through a theme in the same Fictional text and a quality WAGOLL that may be based on a stimulus text or may be related to another curriculum area. There are also sometimes opportunities to also teach poetry through themes in the text studied.  In Y2 and Y6 some key tasks are ‘independent’ so that they can be submitted for writing assessment/ moderation. Both Y6 and Y2 teaching staff undertake moderation across the cluster.


Class 3 children usually take part in the Rotary Young Writer Competition and receive feedback from the local judges. Older children are also encouraged to keep an Events Folder where they volunteer to write about special events or occasions that they have been involved in in a journalistic style. The school encourages the writing of Thank you letters etc to people and friends in the community. 


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.


All staff in our school model the use of higher-level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus from EYFS. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including them in their work. This model is reflected in shared reading sessions, where children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We are keen to model the correct grammar in speech, for example using ‘we were’ instead of ‘we was’ and encourage children to reflect this in their use of spoken and written language. Children are given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing regularly.

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.

Pupils enjoy reading, in all Year groups, across a range of genres and all abilities succeed in reading lessons. Pupils use a range of strategies for decoding words, not solely relying on phonics. Pupils have a good knowledge of a range of authors and poets. Pupils are ready to read in any subject and ready for their next phase of learning. Parents and carers have a good understanding of how they can support reading and home and contribute regularly to home-school records. Reading achievement and progress is being tracked and shows good improvement. Reading is at least in line with national averages and the percentage at greater depth shows an increase. There are no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non-disadvantaged).


Pupils enjoy writing across a range of genres and all pupils of all abilities succeed in English lessons because work is appropriately scaffolded. Pupils are continuously developing a wide vocabulary that they use within their writing. Pupils have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience. Pupils leave primary school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught and they understand the Writing Process – drafting, peer response, editing, re-writing and published draft.  Parents and carers have a good understanding of how they can support spelling, grammar and composition at home, and contribute regularly to homework. Writing achievement is showing improvement and is becoming more in line with national averages. The % of pupils working at Greater Depth within each year group is increasing year or year (depending on cohorts) and there are no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non-disadvantaged).


Through speaking and Listening opportunities, children develop into confident communicators who can listen and speak with consideration and explain their views and thoughts with clarity and confidence.  Children recognise that speaking and listening can lie at the heart of conveying character, and that through speaking and listening effectively, misunderstandings can be addressed, and relationships enhanced.


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. 


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