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Princes Risborough Primary School

An Academy of the Great Learners Trust



Vocabulary Development


The National Curriculum clearly states that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ as it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts in all subjects efficiently.


Vocabulary teaching needs to:

• be active;

• be progressive/ systematic;

• make links from known words;

• develop understanding of shades of meaning;

• include ‘instruction verbs’ used in examinations;

• be subject specific – using accurate mathematical and scientific words.


We encourage and support our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, these include:

• generating new language through the short burst writing week in the Talk for Writing sequence;

• displaying key words linked to specific topics and subjects in classrooms;

• using the correct vocabulary orally;

• teaching spellings that identify and use patterns;

• using dictionaries and thesauruses efficiently;

• exploring vocabulary choices and the effect they have through reading, writing and speaking and listening activities;

• carrying out systematic testing and providing feedback to pupils through success criteria/steps to success, marking and verbal feedback in class and written work;

• targeted one to one/small group support, where appropriate.


Part of our work in English lessons is to specifically teach vocabulary. We do this by using words from the model text in our Talk for Writing sequence.


Vocabulary comes in three tiers. Tier 1 is a group of words that we would use in everyday life and that children are exposed to on a regular basis. Tier 2 words are words that appear in different contexts and can support pupil’s comprehension of a text. Tier 3 words are more subject specific and could be taught in a science topic for example.

Recently, we have started to look more at how we can develop Tier 2 vocabulary across the school by focusing on rich and adventurous language that is contained within the Talk for Writing model texts used in each year group. Lessons take place throughout the week that immerse the pupils in reading, understanding and using the word in a variety of situations. We look at the dictionary definition of the word, synonyms that can be used in its place, the word class (is it an adjective, verb, noun?) and how we can use it within different sentence types.


As we continue building on our Talk for Writing journey as a school, we are excited to further explore ways of supporting all of our pupils to enjoy developing their vocabulary and to help them in becoming confident individuals who can express themselves articulately.