Mill Ford School

English

Reading

We define ‘reading’ at Mill Ford as the way that learners gain meaning from text, symbols and the environment. Throughout the school, we endeavour to expose learners to a rich range of literature, including picture books, multi-sensory story telling, drama and non-fiction materials of all kinds.

 

EYFS and KS1

We introduce all pupils to the sounds and rhythms of the English language by using the Letters and Sounds programme from EYFS.

Reading skills and behaviours are also planned and taught through:

  • Attention Autism
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Action songs
  • Whole school sing and sign
  • Group story time
  • Individual and paired story time
  • Independent exploration of books
  • Sensory stories
  • PECS and other AAC
  • Use of symbols and objects for transition and schedules
  • Environmental print and symbols
  • Tac Pac

 

At KS2, pupils continue to work within the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme, with Phase 2 being introduced at this stage.

Some semi-formal and all formal learners at Key Stage 2 will be taught using the POPS scheme, alongside Letters and Sounds.

We recognise that children with severe learning difficulties need repetition, consolidation and very small steps when learning to read.

POPS enables the teaching of sight vocabulary alongside phonics, while promoting an enjoyment of reading and understanding of text.

Planning is based around the reading books used with each learner or group of learners, which enables progressive acquisition of sight words.

Assessment of progress is recorded termly on a reading tracker, showing letters/ sounds and sight words known.

 

Semi-formal learners who are showing a preference for communicating with symbols are taught these systematically and sequentially. If PECS users, then the PECS protocol for teaching symbol use is followed. Other symbol users benefit from developing a symbol vocabulary based on the POPS reading scheme.

 

Reading is also be planned for and taught in Key Stage 2 to develop enjoyment and comprehension.

We consider that adults sharing texts with learners, that are above a child’s own reading level, is fundamental to teaching reading behaviours, modelling enjoyment and exploring meaning.

Planned reading activities, shown in MTPs will include:

Group story time, using stories and poems with a wide ranging vocabulary.

Individual and paired reading for pleasure. Repetition of favourite books.

Drama activities around books and stories.

Singing - learning and signing song lyrics.

Non –fiction texts to support other learning or based around own interests.

 

At Key Stage 3 informal learners engage in some learning activities from Letters and Sounds Phase 1, with a strong focus on developing and using their functional communication skills through their preferred mode. Due consideration is given to both the learner’s age and their interest level.

Reading behaviours and enjoyment are also taught through:

 

  • Attention Autism
  • Action songs and rhymes
  • Musical instruments and games
  • Songs related to topics of interest
  • Whole school sing and sign
  • Personalised books
  • Independent exploration of books
  • Sensory stories
  • PECS and other AAC
  • Use of symbols and objects for transition and schedules
  • Environmental print and symbols
  • Tac Pac

 

Some formal learners continue to work through the POPS scheme, using the Blue Elephant books if they are appropriate to their interest level and supplemented by other books.

Some formal Learners continue to progress through ‘Letters and Sounds’ and are working within Phase 4 by the end of the Key Stage.

Assessment of progress is recorded termly on a reading tracker, showing letters/ sounds and sight words known.

Reading is also planned for and taught in Key Stage 3 to develop enjoyment and comprehension.

Planned reading activities, shown in MTPs will include:

Group story / reading time, using stories and poems with a wide ranging vocabulary.

Individual and paired reading for pleasure. Repetition of favourite books. Reading to younger children. Range of texts, including comics, magazines and online texts.

Drama activities.

Singing - learning and signing song lyrics.

Non –fiction texts to support other learning or based around own interests.

Comprehension work to practise reading for meaning.

Following recipes, instructions and schedules.

 

Key Stage 4

Informal learners engage in some learning activities from Letters and Sounds Phase 1, with a strong focus on developing and using their functional communication skills through their preferred mode. Due consideration is given to both the learner’s age and their interest level.

Semi – formal learners at Key Stage 4 work within Phases 2 and 3 of Letters and Sounds if they are continuing to make progress with phonics. This can be taught alongside POPS Red Elephant books if learners find them interesting and relevant.

The sight words learned are a focus and every opportunity is taken to reinforce these throughout the curriculum.

Semi-formal learners are systematically taught to read symbols, initially from the sight words used in the POPS scheme alongside symbols of interest and relevance to the individual.

Formal learners at Key Stage 4 may have progressed through the phases of Letters and Sounds.

If they have not, and are still making enough progress, then they may continue with this programme up to Phase 6.

Some formal learners will no longer be making enough progress with Letters and Sounds. They are assessed using the ‘Apples and Pears’ placement test and work systematically through the programme.

If learners have progressed through the phases of Letters and Sounds by Key Stage 4, they follow carefully selected AQA unit awards that ensure rigour and challenge.

Key Stage 5

Informal learners engage in some learning activities from Letters and Sounds Phase 1, ith a strong focus on developing and using their functional communication skills through their preferred mode. Due consideration is given to both the learner’s age and their interest level.

Reading behaviours and enjoyment are taught through:

  • Attention Autism
  • Action songs and rhymes
  • Musical instruments and games
  • Whole school sing and sign
  • Personalised books
  • Independent exploration of books
  • Sensory stories – Bag Books and similar
  • PECS and other AAC
  • Use of symbols and objects for transition and schedules
  • Environmental print and symbols, including in the community
  • Tac Pac

Formal and Semi-Formal learners continue to develop their skills in reading by building on their achievement in KS4.

 

Writing

At Mill Ford school we teach writing with a strong focus on functionality and communication. The National Curriculum includes two elements to writing – transcription and composition. We ensure that all pupils develop the ability to communicate to the best of their ability by removing barriers to learning in both these elements.

With close collaboration with an occupational therapist, pupils’ fine and gross motor skills are developed as a precursor to many later skills, which may include handwriting. Strategies used throughout the school include sensory circuits, ‘funky fingers’, dough gym, ‘write dance’ and many other child or adult-led play and learning tasks. Some pupils are identified as requiring an intervention known as ‘praxic alphabet’ which supports them in learning how letters are orientated on the page. For other pupils, a simple handwriting style is taught in conjunction with phonics work.

Some pupils do not develop the necessary skills to handwrite effectively and are given early access to computer technology. Older pupils are taught to type or use dictation software as appropriate to their needs. We ensure that no pupil is disadvantaged by being unable to write and provide alternative methods of recording their learning.

Many pupils, generally those working at the semi-formal level, use symbols to record their learning and Widgit symbols are used throughout the school. Pupils are systematically taught to use these to construct simple sentences.

Some pupils are able to develop more complex composition skills. They may be supported using ‘Colourful Semantics’ in order to learn how to sequence words within a sentence. Pupils working within the formal curriculum are taught simple grammar and punctuation in order to make their writing understood by readers. Spelling is taught at an individual level, through the ‘Letters and Sounds’ and ‘POPS’ phonics programmes. Some pupils at Key Stage 3 and 4 are identified as requiring a different approach and use the ‘Apples and Pears’ programme to support their spelling development.