English, Literacy and Communication

Language and communication skills are essential for all our pupils and we recognise that the skills developed in English promote learning across the curriculum. We aim for our pupils to be able to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and to communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally with others in a range of social situations, appropriate to their levels and needs.

We teach pupils the skills they need to communicate in ways relevant to their individual needs, developing their skills in communication, reading and writing. Cross-curricular themes have been developed to incorporate National Curriculum objectives whilst meeting the individual learning styles of our pupils. Phonics also forms an important part of the literacy curriculum.

Using the Read Write Inc Phonics programme in Key Stage 2 and Fresh Start in Key Stage 3, phonics are delivered in discrete sessions where appropriate. . Students’ phonics levels are monitored every term to ensure progress is on track and that sessions are relevant and targeted.

Where appropriate, pupils have a reading book and a reading diary recording when they are heard reading. In addition to the reading carried out during Read Write Inc sessions, pupils are heard reading 2 – 3 times a week by a member of staff. Pupils are encouraged to take home their reading books and reading records each day.

The See and Learn programme by Downsed is available for use with pupils who need to develop their vocabulary, speech sounds and learn to combine words into longer sentences. Social sight words are taught to support the development of functional literacy.

In addition, we have work in partnership with Alex Kelly to develop our Social Skills Programme, designed to develop communication skills, self-awareness and awareness of others. In these highly practical and interactive sessions, students consider a wide range of non-verbal communication skills designed to improve the quality of their interactions with peers and adults.

Pupils have access to a wide range of literature in our fiction and non-fiction libraries to enrich and broaden their experiences. We enhance the curriculum through the use of visiting story tellers, poets and theatre groups and provide opportunities for pupils to visit theatres.

We celebrate the endeavours and achievements of all our pupils and hope that they enjoy their learning. We aim to provide a happy learning environment which enables our pupils to grow in confidence and interact socially.

‘Blank Levels’

The Blank Language Scheme encourages the development of verbal reasoning and abstract language, and is split into steps or levels. By level 4 a student must be able to think about the relationships between objects, people and events and give reasons as to why things happen, justifying why events have occurred and their predictions. Students working at was ‘P7-8’ are usually equivalent to Blank level 3 and 4.   It is important to make sure the questions we are asking pupils are supporting their level of development. Some pupils with learning difficulties may be working at a higher National Curriculum level but still need questions adapted to a lower level of verbal reasoning or abstract language. It is also crucial to realise that when a child is under stress, they will function at least one level lower than that of which they are usually capable. In order to effectively develop these pupils’ language it is important to understand the Blank level at which they are functioning to ensure that we adapt the language in the learning environment to meet these specific needs. Ref: Secondary Language Builders, Henrietta McLachlan and Liz Elks 2008

For parents wishing to support their son or daughter’s reading progress at home, click here for a brief guide available to download.


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