English Hub

Supporting schools to improve teaching of phonics, early language and reading in Reception & Year 1

Background to English Hubs

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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

English & Literacy CPD Opportunities – 2020/21

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New Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers and Leaders including opportunities related to CV-19 Recovery, Phonics, Ofsted updates, Y2 Screening Preparation, Reading and Vocabulary

As documented by the National Literacy Trust, Covid-19 is ‘set to have a disastrous impact on the literacy of the 4.6 million children living in poverty in the UK, who we know already start school with vocabularies up to 19 months behind their better-off peers and who are twice as likely to leave secondary school without good GCSEs in English and maths.’ (National Literacy Trust, 2020). Thus, there has never been a more important time for us to have a collective focus on supporting children’s literacy and mitigating the impact of recent events on their development, learning and later life chances.

National Remit

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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.

Accessing Support

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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.


English Hub Literacy Specialists

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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.

Autumn Term 2020 - Letters and Sounds Online Lessons

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Following the success of our Letters and Sounds Summer Term lesson series, we’re back! This term we’re offering four different lesson types – all designed and delivered by phonics experts working with the validated Letters and Sounds English Hubs. New lessons are uploaded to our YouTube channel (Letters and Sounds for Home and School) every weekday at 9am. Once they have been uploaded, all lessons are available for on-demand viewing at any time families choose.

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’


Home Learning

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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.


DfE Visit

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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

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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.

Contact English Hub

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For information regarding the English Hub, please contact:

English Hub Lead : Liz Kenny

  • Email


  • Tel

    01709 267021

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