Athersley North Primary School


At Athersley North, we teach Vocabulary as part of a strategy that teaches pupils the academic words that they need to succeed within the classroom and in the wider world. We believe that we are providing pupils with a much richer and diverse vocabulary and when it comes to vocabulary knowledge and school success, ‘word depth’ has a greater emphasis than the ‘breadth’ of vocabulary knowledge. Helping pupils to improve and widen their academic vocabulary is essential if outcomes are to improve.

We use and follow the three-tiered model of vocabulary development (Beck Et al, 2013) which classifies words into Tier One Words-the most basic words, Tier Two Words- high frequency words that occur across a variety of domains and Tier Three Words- subject specific.  We ensure pupils experience repeated exposures to both tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary through a planned teaching approach so that they are able to develop connections between words, their meanings and their origins. Pupils engage with words in real-life contexts and are encouraged to use new vocabulary accurately in their independent writing.


Subject Specific Vocabulary

All children in school are explicitly taught vocabulary in individual subject lessons. The curriculum is mapped out in the long term progression plan to ensure that subject related vocabulary is taught and revisited each academic year, with new subject vocabulary being introduced to build up a bank of subject related knowledge. Pupils in KS2 also access an online programme called Bedrock Vocabulary.

Each half term, pupils will be exposed to a variety of language related to the current theme they are learning about. This language is taught to ensure it follows on from previous language that has been used and new vocabulary is introduced to ensure pupils are given the opportunity build upon their subject related vocabulary, which may be either Tier 2 or Tier 3 words.


Twice weekly, KS2 pupils follow the Bedrock Vocabulary Curriculum. Bedrock Vocabulary is an online curriculum that teaches vocabulary whilst encouraging reading.  Bedrock enables pupils to learn new vocabulary following a multi-modal programme to frequently immerse pupils in aspirational, academic vocabulary. Pupils progress through a variety of topics, experiencing engaging, language-rich fiction and non-fiction texts that expand their knowledge of the world as well as their vocabulary.

✓ Each topic consists of six 15-20 minute lessons, plus a pre- and post-test to track pupils’ progress.

 ✓ Each lesson introduces pupils to between three and five new words. New words are shown in multiple contexts and alongside synonyms and antonyms to help pupils relate new words to ones they already know, embedding understanding.

Word of the Week

Pupils in KS1 follow the structure of Bedrock Vocabulary lessons but in a simplified manner, focusing on one word per week. Teachers select the focus word from the reading texts that are being focussed on in class.

The word of the week focuses on the etymology (the study of the origin of words) and morphology (the study of words, how they are formed, and their relationship to other words in the same language) of a word.

Word Families are taught to ensure pupils can see how one word can also give meaning to other words they already know. Word families significantly increase the number of words pupils can master.

Word of the week is taught over 4 days of the week, with a spaced learning day in the middle of the week to ensure new vocabulary is retained in long-term memory.

Talk Through Topic

In EYFS, we use Talk Through Topic, a teaching strategy that provides pupils with the vocabulary that they can use in every day play activities.

5 or 6 tier two words are selected each week and chosen to link to specific themes.

Teachers model how to pronounce the words and give simple meanings, using words and pictures.

Pupils should begin to use the vocabulary independently as the week progresses.

The vocabulary is collated each half term and displayed in a book for the pupils to review and look back on, recalling the words they know.

Vocabulary Tree

Each classroom has a vocabulary tree displayed on the classroom wall.

Each branch represents a different subject and will display any subject specific vocabulary related to the topic.