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English & Literacy

Literacy and English Overview

Introduction

The understanding and use of language are fundamental to learning for all children. Therefore, literacy is an integral part of our curriculum and is embedded throughout the school day at The Vale of Evesham School. All children have the entitlement to develop their literacy skills. Our teaching embraces all aspects of language development and we take a bespoke approach to ensure pupils engage in literacy lessons that are motivating, meaningful and complement their learning style.

To ensure our learners have opportunities to access all aspects of the English curriculum and for it to be effective, input is required from parents, speech and language therapists and advisory services that support learners with additional sensory requirements. Learners for whom English is a second language will receive bi-lingual support and their mother-tongue will continue to be recognised and celebrated.

Intent

The English Curriculum at the Vale of Evesham School aims to:

  • Embed the use of communication through a total communication approach so that pupils can communicate effectively with others in a range of social situations and the world around them
  • Promote a love for books, stories, reading for pleasure and purpose
  • Motivate pupils to engage with a range of literature
  • Provide bespoke learning opportunities and approaches for pupils with PMLD so that they can engage with people and their environment
  • Appropriately challenge learners so that they grow in confidence and competency with all areas of literacy
  • Expose pupils to an extensive range of age-appropriate literature and writing opportunities
  • Equip pupils with skills to use literacy in the wider community and life beyond school

Subject Organisation

At the Vale of Evesham School, English will be delivered both as discrete subjects and through a cross-curricular approach. For all learners to have engaging and appropriate opportunities for progression, we have adopted a curriculum structure of three broad strands across the school; pre-formal, semi-formal and formal. These strands of the curriculum are defined by the learning needs and therefore pupils may move from one strand to another during their school career. To ensure new literacy skills are built upon secure foundations across all three strands of the curriculum, a whole-school literacy sequential learning map has been created to inform planning for progression.

Teaching time allocated to literacy lessons varies according to the strand of the curriculum and year group; see appendix A.

Reading

At the Vale of Evesham School, we acknowledge that learning to read in its widest sense is central to the curriculum intent of the school. Progress in reading enables our pupils to access opportunities both in school and the wider community with independence and confidence. Reading provides pupils with rich communication opportunities and supports them in achieving their desired outcomes on leaving school. Our approach to reading:

  • Acknowledges that stimulus (e.g., smell/sound/facial expressions) carries meaning
  • Acknowledges that objects and carry meaning
  • Teaches that photographs and pictures represent objects, people and places and carry meaning
  • Teaches that symbols can be used as labels and to access text
  • Ensures that narrative can be accessed through sensory-based activities
  • Emphasises systematic synthetic phonics is our favoured approach to teaching reading
  • Teaches the reading of words, new vocabulary and comprehension

Intent

At the Vale of Evesham School, we intend for pupils to:

  • Understand their immediate environment so they feel secure and ready to engage in learning
  • Use objects, photos and symbols to anticipate and predict
  • To read words
  • Foster a love for stories and literature
  • Read purposefully to gain information using non-fiction texts
  • Apply reading skills to engage with the wider community in preparation for life after school

Implementation

All classrooms have reading areas that are resourced with books that engage and motivate learners, matching their cognitive level. These books will regularly rotate and pupils are encouraged to take an active role in this.

Phonics is carefully timetabled prior to reading sessions where pupils apply their developing skills to reading books. The pace at which new phonemes are introduced is skilfully planned for using ongoing assessment to ensure pupils have successfully embedded their learning before moving to the next. Each phase/department has separate reading schemes to avoid repetition and continue to provide motivating reading opportunities as pupils progress through the school. Approaches used to develop reading skills vary according to the strand of the curriculum pupils are working on.

An important part of literacy teaching is exposure to a diverse range of texts during literature lessons. Texts are carefully mapped across the year for the whole school. The literature suggested a link to the units being taught within English lessons and also relate to the overarching theme for the term. Pupils will engage with literature above their reading ability; covering a broad range of themes, eras and cultures. They will access a range of motivating reading materials through a variety of media, both for pleasure and for purpose. Texts will be high quality often using adapted versions (particularly in UKS2 onwards) and promote meaningful discussions. The texts chosen will go on to inspire and support pupil’s writing.

Semi-Formal Curriculum:

Pupils are given short-term targets each term which is shared with parents. Reading at home is promoted at the beginning of their school journey and continues throughout. Pupils working at the very early stages of reading can access approaches such as ‘See and Learn’ to develop their understanding of photos. Symbolic awareness is taught through colourful semantics, matching activities and a total-communication approach embedded throughout the school day. With this text-rich environment, pupils can confidently understand timetables and engage in learning to feel secure.

Pupils working on the semi-formal curriculum will be supported in developing their phonological awareness using multisensory approaches. Once these fundamental literacy skills are embedded, pupils will access systematic synthetic phonics using Letters and Sounds. Phonics sessions are delivered in a multisensory way before skills are applied within reading sessions. Various reading schemes are used as they progress through school (see Appendix 2) which offer motivating topics and themes. We recognise that phonics is a powerful reading strategy for many children but for some children an alternative is necessary, or indeed a combination of strategies may be the most appropriate approach. Strategies such as ‘action words’ work well to develop whole-word reading skills.

Interventions are targeted to support pupils not making the expected progress. A range of assessments support teachers in identifying areas of difficulty with phonological processing which can help inform interventions as well as a universal practice.  Individual interventions may also include precision teaching so that specific sounds or words can be taught and assessed. Some pupils in first school will also access the Autism Resource Centre which will continue to work towards their literacy targets. The TEACCH approach is often used in this learning environment.

As pupils progress to high school, they will continue with the approaches above but also focus on reading for life. This includes reading whole words and symbols in the community. Various technological resources can support this to promote independence. Within the sixth form, pupils have further exciting opportunities to apply their reading skills in real-life situations such as the school café. They will be encouraged to read words and symbols purposefully in a working environment to develop their functional skills.

Formal Curriculum:

Pupils are given short-term targets each term which are shared with parents.  They will be encouraged to read at home regularly with a reading book and reading record sent home on a weekly basis.

In middle school, pupils working on the formal curriculum will continue to participate in phonics sessions four times a week for at least 15 minutes. These sessions will continue to follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ framework. To support high-frequency word reading and address gaps in knowledge; some pupils will continue to engage in Precision Teaching. A multisensory approach to teaching whole words will also be used in these sessions such as Action Words.

Pupils working on the formal curriculum will complete a reading session to apply their phonics skills four times a week using different approaches. These sessions will focus on reading for purpose and may include sharing a big book, 1 to 1 reading, guided reading and reading to a peer. Reading books have been carefully selected to ensure they provide adequate challenging using age-appropriate themes. Where pupils are working above phase 6, they are encouraged to make independent choices about the books they would like to read. All pupils are supported to engage in a dialogue about what they have read to develop their comprehension skills.

  • Fresh Start (Read Write Inc) will be used in KS3 onwards in Spring 2022

Within high school, pupils will continue to access dedicated sessions to phonics and reading. They will also enjoy a broad range of literature during their English lessons. In most cases, these are adapted versions of well-known texts that are skillfully differentiated by the class teachers. These texts empower our students to engage in conversations on a diverse range of topics as they work towards Entry Level qualifications. For some, this rich exposure to literature forms the foundations for accessing GCSE exams later in their school journey.

Within the sixth form, the focus on reading turns towards the real-life application whilst continuing to foster the love for books. Pupils will have access to weekly Newpapers (First News) and magazines. They will develop their understanding of forms and have opportunities to read job/responsibility adverts within school and apply. The sixth form café also provides a diverse range of purposeful reading opportunities and prepares our pupils for the world of work.

Impact

Reading is assessed termly using B squared Progression Steps for pupils working on the semi-formal and formal curriculum (KS1-3). Learners accessing the pre-formal curriculum are assessed using Routes for Learning for pre-requisite reading skills. In High School, pupils progress towards Entry Level accreditation (Pearson Edexcel) and their work is moderated and verified internally and externally. Pupils throughout the school, who are reading words, are assessed annually using the York Assessment for Reading and Comprehension (YARC). Pupils in Year 1 and Year 2 who are reading words take part in the phonics screening programme.

We work collaboratively with parents and pupils to set long-term reading targets as part of pupil EHCP reviews. As a school, we take prompt action to address lack of progress in reading. Short term, targeted interventions are carried out by class staff or as part of an intervention programme in UKS2-KS4. When interventions are used, it is imperative that discussions are had at the start and end of an intervention with the class teacher to ensure progress made continues within the classroom.

Communication

At the vale of Evesham school, we recognise that early communication skills form the foundation of future learning and are crucial to an improved quality of life. Pupils are immersed in the communication process throughout their school life and it is an intrinsic part of our curriculum. Pupils are presented with opportunities to develop their communication through both planned and spontaneous interactions. To enable our pupils to communicate their needs, feelings, and ideas a multidisciplinary approach is often required drawing upon the skills of the teacher, speech and language therapists, MSI specialists and occupational therapists.

Within the school, we have two qualified Signalong tutors who deliver a training course to new members of staff and offer annual parent workshops. These tutors continuously support teaching staff with new signs required for key vocabulary being taught during each term for all strands of the curriculum. Signs and symbols are used along with speech and gesture, facial expression, eye contact and body language. Signalong is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech in for keywords.

We aim for all our pupils to establish a system of expressive and receptive communication that is appropriate for them. In doing so, pupils will access learning and develop positive social relationships. Methods of communication take many forms at the Vale of Evesham School, including:

  • Body language
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Gestures and pointing
  • TaSSels
  • Signing (Signalong)
  • Vocalisations
  • Use of objects of reference
  • Use of photographs
  • Use of symbols/drawings
  • Use of low and High-Tech AAC
  • Speech
  • Writing

Intent:

At the vale of Evesham school, we aim for our pupils to:

  • Recognise familiar people
  • Communicate needs and choices
  • Ask questions to gain information
  • Initiate polite and appropriate conversations
  • Develop skills to prepare them for life after school

Implementation:

Classroom environments are conducive to the communication styles of individuals learning within them. All classes display a timetable that communicates what pupils will be doing which facilitates an organised and predictable day; this also alleviates some anxieties for pupils. These may take the form of objects, photos, symbols or words depending on the communication level and style of pupils using them. A total communication approach is used across the school but the delivery differs according to the strand of the curriculum the pupils’ access.

Semi-Formal Curriculum

Daily Circle time activities are used to develop early attention and listening skills through group-based activities. Many of our semi-formal learners have difficulties with their attention. To develop these skills, ‘Attention Autism’ sessions begin in the first school and continue until High School. These sessions offer irresistible invitations to captivate pupils’ attention and progress through stages 1-4 as they move through the school. Varied, motivating and appropriate resources are chosen to suit to pupils’ learning needs and age. In first school, these sessions either daily or at regular intervals depending on need. As pupils progress into middle school/high school these approaches will form part of their weekly communication group sessions.

Stage 1 – Focusing attention

Stage 2 – sustaining attention

Stage 3 – shifting attention

Stage 4 – Focus, shift and re-engage attention (transition)

In first school, developing symbolic awareness is a priority to facilitate choice-making alongside spoken words where possible. In the first instance, photographs are used to develop their symbolic understanding of the world around them. A photograph supports the students to develop a link between the visual representation of an object or event and the real thing. Once this is achieved, widgit symbols are introduced. Colourful Semantics is used as an approach to support pupils’ understanding of language and grammar; this approach is adopted throughout all phases and may include both symbols and written words.

Some pupils who have a symbolic understanding but do not communicate verbally may use PECS. These students are identified by SLT in collaboration with the class teacher because certain prerequisite skills are required. PECS is a very structured approach and has a defined hierarchy that must be followed for it to become a successful communication system.

Many of our semi-formal learners benefit from some of the approaches that are used within TEACCH including concepts such as ‘finished,’ ‘first’ and ‘next.’ This encourages pupils to transfer learnt skills to everyday activities including starting work independently using clear and concise language. Some pupils in first school will access the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) to receive focused time working towards communication targets in a low stimulus environment with 1 to 2 peers using the TEACCH approach. TEACCH workboxes are often used within semi-formal classrooms to work 1:1 with pupils on focused targets as they progress through the school.

Blank’s Levels of Questioning is used to inform the planning of questioning used for pupils working on the semi-formal curriculum. At this stage, the focus is on their immediate environment and requires concrete thinking requiring short or non-verbal responses such as pointing. Questions may include who, what and say (imitation). As pupils reach Level 2, they will be challenged to draw upon details that are not necessarily visible and require some basic analysis – who, what, where, what happened and describe.

In middle school, pupils can use word mats and iPad apps such as Clicker to make requests, share ideas, ask/answer questions.

When pupils reach High School, they will work towards an accreditation

Formal curriculum:

Expressing emotions, sharing info, asking/answering questions, how they initiate communication and how well they are understood by others.

Pupils who access the formal curriculum in middle school have 2 speaking and listening lessons per week. These sessions support pupils to develop social skills using and are informed by NHS speech and language. Communication continues to be embedded within the curriculum. Literacy lessons continue to challenge pupils to increase their repertoire of skills including drama, debates and presentations.

Blank’s Levels of Questioning continue to inform the planning of questioning. Most pupils working on the formal curriculum are working at level 3 onwards which encourages higher-order thinking such as predictions, assumptions, reasoning and justification. Such questioning can be used across all subjects.

When pupils move into High School, they will work towards their Pearson Edexcel accreditation in speaking and listening. Importantly, pupils will have opportunities to develop essential life skills such as interviews, arranging appointments and making phone calls in a range of contexts. The focus is on developing communication skills to prepare for life after school. Pupils accessing the formal curriculum will continue to have 2 speaking and listening sessions per week.

Impact

Pupil progress is also reviewed at annual reviews where multidisciplinary teams contribute. Referrals can be made at any time to speech and language therapists/OTs. To ensure progress continues throughout the school; detailed transitions during the summer term. Including observations, communication profiles are written annually and updated throughout the year for pupils working on the pre-formal curriculum.  these are shared with all staff working with the pupil. and resources such as objects of reference.

Writing

Semi-Formal

Semi-formal learners work towards their individual writing targets. This can be in the form of writing packs, directly taught sessions, fine and gross motor activities. All sessions cover handwriting, sentence structure, punctuation and spelling These are taught directly and discreetly across all curriculum areas. In KS1 pupils have daily access to writing based activities as part of their continuous provision. See appendix A for weekly allocations.

Writing Approaches:

  • Fine motor skills – i.e., Jimbo fun, write dance, messy play, dough disco, multi-sensory approaches- tweezer and pom-poms, tools etc.
  • Handwriting packs- focused on individual targets
  • Colourful semantics
  • TAGIV8 – physical approaches to teaching

Formal

Formal learners have an increased level of taught sessions for their writing skills including spelling and grammar, handwriting and sentence structure. See appendix A for weekly allocations.

 

Writing Approaches:

  • Fine motor skills – i.e., Jimbo fun, write dance, messy play, dough disco, multi-sensory approaches- tweezer and pom-poms, tools etc.
  • Colourful semantics
  • Handwriting packs and spelling
  • TAGIV8 – physical approaches to teaching
  • Formal high school – RAFT
  • Typing skills for pupils. Pearson Edexcel accepts word processing as part of the accreditation.

Appendix A

Semi-formal Curriculum

First School
  KS1 (year 1/2) Lower KS2: (Year 3/4)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week 25 min x 4-5 per week
Words and Sounds 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week 20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing/ Fine motor 30 min x 2-3 per week 30 min x 2-3 per week
Text 30 min x 2 per week 1 hour total per week
Communication 30 min x 3 per week 30 min x 2 per week

 

Middle School
  Upper KS2 (Year 5/6) KS3 (Year 7/8)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week 20-25 min x 4-5 per week
Phonics/ whole word reading 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing 1 hour total per week 1 hour total per week
Text 1 hour total per week 1 hour total per week
Communication 30 min x 2 per week 30 min x 2 per week

 

High School KS4 (Year 9, 10, 11)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week Accreditation:

AQA Award units

Pre-entry Level working towards entry level

Phonics/ That Reading Thing 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing 1 hour total per week
Text 1 hour total per week
Communication 1 hour total per week

Formal Curriculum

Middle School Upper KS2 and KS3
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week
Phonics/whole word 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Literature 1 hour total per week
Writing composition 30 min per week
Writing grammar 30 min per week
Speaking and Listening 30 min x 2 per week

 

High School (Year 9, 10, 11)
Reading 20 min x 4 per week Accreditation:

Pearson Edexcel

Entry Level 1 – Entry Level 3

 

That Reading Thing 15 min x 4 per week
Literature 1 hour total per week
Writing (RAFT) 1 hour total per week
Speaking and listening

(life skills)

1 hour total per week

Literacy and English Text Map

This is a working document to show progression in texts across the school.  The literature suggested in the table below are linked to the units being taught within English lessons. Where possible, texts also relate to the overarching theme for the term. Teachers can select 1 or more texts from the list to study each half term between KS1-LKS2. Once in UKS2, teachers will usually focus on one text per half term and teach using multisensory approaches to suit the learning styles of pupils within the class.

Pupils will engage with literature above their reading ability; covering a broad range of themes, eras and cultures. They will access a range of motivating reading materials through a variety of media, both for pleasure and for purpose. Texts will be high quality often using adapted versions (particularly in UPK2 onwards) and promote meaningful discussions. The texts chosen will go on to inspire and support pupil’s writing.

Semi-Formal Curriculum

Formal Curriculum

Literacy and English Long Term Plan Semi-Formal and Formal

Semi-formal Curriculum

First School
  KS1 (year 1/2) Lower KS2: (Year 3/4)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week 25 min x 4-5 per week
Words and Sounds 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week 20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing/ Fine motor 30 min x 2-3 per week 30 min x 2-3 per week
Text 30 min x 2 per week (year 2 only) 1 hour total per week
Communication 30 min x 3 per week 30 min x 2 per week

 

Middle School
  Upper KS2 (Year 5/6) KS3 (Year 7/8)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week 20-25 min x 4-5 per week
Phonics/ whole word reading 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing 1 hour total per week 1 hour total per week
Text 1 hour total per week 1 hour total per week
Communication 30 min x 2 per week 30 min x 2 per week

 

High School KS4 (Year 9, 10, 11)
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week Accreditation:

AQA Award units

Pre-entry Level working towards entry level

Phonics/ That Reading Thing 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Writing 1 hour total per week
Text 1 hour total per week
Communication 1 hour total per week

 

Formal Curriculum

Middle School Upper KS2 and KS3
Reading 20-25 min x 4-5 per week
Phonics/whole word 15 -20 min x 4-5 per week
Literature 1 hour total per week
Writing composition 30 min per week
Writing grammar 30 min per week
Speaking and Listening 30 min x 2 per week

 

High School (Year 9, 10, 11)
Reading 20 min x 4 per week Accreditation:

Pearson Edexcel

Entry Level 1 – Entry Level 3

 

That Reading Thing 15 min x 4 per week
Literature 1 hour total per week
Writing (RAFT) 1 hour total per week
Speaking and listening

(life skills)

1 hour total per week