Background to English Hubs


In the spring of 2018, the Department for Education (DfE) identified and invited 924 eligible schools to apply to become an accredited English Hub as part of a new national initiative to drive up standards in literacy. Following a competitive application and selection process, the DfE announced the designation of the inaugural English Hubs in autumn 2018.

Learners First is thrilled to confirm a lead Teaching School within the partnership, Whiston Worrygoose, was successfully designated as one of only 32 English Hubs in the country. As a partnership, we are excited by the opportunities this creates for local schools and are keen to share more information about the support and resources available and how schools can access and contribute to the work of the English Hub.

As defined by the DfE, each English Hub will:

‘…promote a love of reading and support schools across the country to provide excellent phonics and early language teaching. Literacy specialists within each hub will provide tailored support to schools. This will include running events to showcase excellent practice in teaching reading and working with local schools to develop their practice’.

Department for Education (DfE), October 2018

National Remit


All support offered by the English Hubs across the country will promote the Department’s three priority areas:

1. Early language development : providing evidence-based approaches to early language development and closing the word gap in school-based early years settings, including appropriate use of formative assessment;

2. Age-appropriate phonics provision : encouraging best practice in systematic synthetic phonics teaching from school-based early years provision to the end of Key Stage 1, and as the primary reading strategy throughout the school. This includes:

  • encouraging fidelity to a single systematic synthetic phonics programme;
  • supporting the effective use of decodable books in the early stages of learning to read, as a way of establishing phonic decoding;
  • supporting effective practice in formative assessment in relation to phonics/early reading.

3. Promoting a love of reading : encouraging reading for enjoyment including by supporting whole school reading approaches, reading to children at least once a day and encouraging reading at home, developing teachers’ knowledge of appropriate children’s literature.

English Hub reader
English Hub reader

Accessing Support


There are opportunities available to all schools. Schools are encouraged to approach and access the support of any English Hub with which they already have an existing partnership and/or would prefer to choose to work. The DfE’s intention is for schools to access the provision offered by English Hubs through a ‘Self-Referral’ system.

In addition, English Hubs have been asked to work with local partners including (but not limited to) the RSC, Opportunity Area Boards, NLEs, MATs, Dioceses and LAs to identify and encourage engagement from schools that would most benefit from support, with a focus on schools with high numbers of disadvantaged children.

English Hubs have been asked to prioritise schools based on a set of criteria (provided by the DfE) which is available in our English Hub Update. However, there will be a range of opportunities available to all schools via the Learners First English Hub. We would like to encourage all schools interested in finding out more about the opportunities, CPD and resources available to make contact to discuss the options available in more detail.

Access daily online Letters and Sounds lessons

(Available from 27 April)


We are pleased to announce, from Monday 27 April, schools and parents will be able to access daily online Letters and Sounds lessons for their children at Letters and Sounds for home and school. The lessons have been carefully written and presented by L&S experts and have been quality assured by the English Hubs Council Chair Gordon Askew. This resource is for use by teachers and parents who will find planning and teaching phonics challenging when schools are closed due to Covid-19. They are the only Letters and Sounds online lessons funded and approved by the Department for Education. All lessons are introduced by celebrities, including children’s TV presenters, which children and parents should recognise and which adds an exciting element to this new resource.

The lessons follow the DfE’s Letters and Sounds (L&S) programme and are designed to cover new teaching that children would have received over the summer term had they been in school. Three sets of lessons will be available. One set for Reception and a set for Year 1, based on where children are expected to be in their learning in the summer term. A third set of lessons aims to reach the lowest 20% of children; focussing on areas children find the most challenging. For parents, a guidance film to explain the basics of Phonics and how parents can support their child is also available online. Just follow the link below to access the new Letters and Sounds YouTube website.

During the summer term, a new lesson will be uploaded to YouTube everyday Monday to Friday. *After upload, each lesson will then be available to watch at any time during the summer term. 


Online Letters and Sounds Lesson Schedule


10.00am* – Reception Summer Term (Phases 3&4)

For Reception children who can blend and read words such as ‘fish’ ‘chat’ and ‘rain’

10.30am* – Year 1 Summer Term (Phase 5)

For Year 1 children who can confidently blend and read words such as ‘stamp’ ‘chair’ and ‘green’

11.00am* – Learning to blend (Phase 2 recap)

For children in Reception and Year 1 who need extra practice sounding and reading words such as ‘tap’ ‘cap’ ‘mat’ ‘pat’

News in Brief


Home Learning

Here at the English Hub we are determined to continue to offer support and advice to schools throughout these difficult and unusual times. With this in mind we have produced a resource which provides access to a selection of resources and websites which can help ensure that children are accessing high quality content which is both educational and engaging. This document can be accessed by following this link and can be shared with colleagues who are in school or home educating or through your school website.  Use the materials as a stimulus for speaking and listening activities, engaging with high quality texts or to motivate children to write down their own ideas or responses. If you would like any further help or advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

English Hub reader

DfE Visit

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Gordon Askew MBE and Chair of the English Hub Council to the English Hub here in Rotherham. The focus of the visit was to review our own practice in the teaching of phonics and early reading and make sure that the example being promoted and shared nationally is as strong as possible. Gordon observed the teaching of discreet phonics lessons in both our Early Years and KS1 classrooms and spoke with both staff and pupils about the teaching of reading and reading culture promoted within the school. Gordon was very appreciative of the standard of teaching observed, the attitudes and behaviour of the pupils and with the quality of provision and school ethos as a whole. We are happy to report that he fully endorsed our continued role in supporting schools to improve the teaching of phonic, early language and reading.


Closing the Reading Gap Seminar

Alex Quigley returned to Rotherham in March to contribute to our programme of Professional Development following the overwhelming success of his first seminar for us last year which explored how to address the growing vocabulary gap.  This time Alex was back to lead his new ‘Closing the Reading Gap’ masterclass seminar and we were all very excited to hear what Alex had to share with us as we continue to support school improvements in literacy and language development. During the session, Alex unpicked the challenges faced by all of our pupils as they grapple with the academic reading demands posed by the school curriculum and considered the implications for pupils at all phases of their education. He explored a range of issues including what makes reading in school so difficult and what to prioritise when seeking to improve reading and provided a plethora of practical strategies to improve provision in all schools.

English Hub

Contact English Hub


For information regarding the English Hub, please contact….

English Hub Lead : Liz Kenny

Email :

Tel : 01709 267021

Twitter : @ Learners_First


English Hub Literacy Specialists


As a DfE designated English Hub, Learners First has 6 experienced Literacy Specialists who are currently working with schools across Derbyshire and South Yorkshire in supporting the development of early reading and phonics.

The Literacy Specialists work with the Hub to offer intensive support to schools in implementing or improving all systematic synthetic phonics teaching. All Literacy Specialists regularly undertake nationally delivered training provided by the English Hubs Training Centre.


The English Hub Team


Kate Davies, CEO of White Woods Primary Academy Trust

David Taylor, Strategic Hub Lead, Headteacher at Whiston Worrygoose Primary School

Liz Kenny, English Hub Lead

Literacy Specialists x 6 from partner schools

Admin & finance support