St. Michael’s English Hub


About Us

St. Michael’s English Hub is one of only 32 schools across England appointed by the DfE to take a leading role in supporting schools to improve the teaching of early language, reading and phonics. The school places a high profile on early reading through a strong commitment to systematic, synthetic phonics. Ultimately, if a child can read, they can access the curriculum, develop a strong vocabulary and a love of reading.

We are able to offer support to schools in Durham, Darlington, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland.

The Hub focuses on three crucial priority areas:
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. Building children’s speaking and listening skills in a language rich provision that are well matched to the children’s individual abilities. This allows for planning for progression and preparing children to learn to read

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 effective use of decodable books in the early stages of learning to read to establish phonic decoding
Supporting effective practice in formative assessment in relation to phonics / early reading.
Through the development of the Importance of Phonics catalogue in 2010/12, the phonics programmes assessed as being full SSP programmes and meeting the criteria for effective phonics teaching are:

ORT Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters (Oxford University Press, 2011)
Phonics International programme (Phonics International Ltd, 2007)
Jolly Phonics (Jolly Learning Limited)
Phonics Bug (Pearson)
Sound Discovery (Synthetic Phonics Limited)
Sounds Together (Sounds Together Limited)
Sounds Write (Sounds-Write Limited)
Read Write Inc. (Oxford University Press)
Letters and Sounds: Principles & Practice (DfES, 2007) providing it is supplemented by closely matched, fully decodable books.
Promoting a love of reading
Encouraging reading for enjoyment; supporting whole school reading approaches, reading to children at least once a day and encouraging reading at home as well as developing teachers’ knowledge of appropriate children’s literature. Ensuring that reading and language is embedded across the curriculum and is taught in a purposeful way. Children are confident presenting their work and using different types of texts to achieve their goals. Developing reflective practitioners who can talk confidently about books and use this creativity in their own work.


We are running a series of free Open Events at St. Michael’s C of E Primary School which will include observations of phonics teaching and reading linked with vocabulary from Reception to Year 2, presentations from our English Hub team and support with action planning. The Open Events are for two members of staff per school one of which must be a member of the senior leadership team. (1 SLT and 1 teacher from EYFS/KS1)

We are also working with 20 partner schools this year to support them linked with the DfE’s three priority ares. The school is allocated a Literacy Specialist who will undergo specialised training from the DfE.

We will audit schools to give them feedback on their practice linked with the DfE’s priority areas. The audits will also help the English Hub to identify the next 20 partner schools for the next year. (2020-21)

We will also organise conferences linked with the DfE’S priority areas. They will be at a reduced price and will require a member of the SLT and another member of staff to attend.