The National Curriculum gives English a “pre-eminent” place in education and points out that it supports pupils’ cultural, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development and allows them to participate in society.
Education in English will teach pupils to communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, allow others to communicate with them.
Pupils with ASCs have difficulties with acquiring and understanding language.
Teaching Language and Literacy at Springhallow must take this into account at all times in order to make the curriculum accessible to all of our pupils and to enable them to achieve the best possible learning outcomes. (Article 23, United Nations’ International Convention on the Rights of the Child)
Speaking, listening, attention and understanding are areas of learning that are taught and practised throughout the school day, from Early Years to Post 16. It is the core area of difficulty for our students and so is at the heart of our literacy curriculum.
Our approach to communication is guided by SCERTS principles. SCERTS focuses on building competence in Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support. We aim to support progress in all of these areas.
Our teaching is through setting up structures that provide support to engage with learning in the classroom and beyond. This is adapted as the children grow and learn e.g. “Now-Next” boards can become a schedule and then a written checklist.
We aim to support functional communication but also to build students’ expressive and spontaneous language to help them enjoy their developing relationships with other people. We are supported by our Speech and Language Therapists.
Communication happens through PECS, ICT, Makaton in addition to verbal communication. Singing, drama, partner games, Look’n’ Listen, group times, debates, discussions, telephones role play, all support learning to communicate
Reading comprises of decoding and comprehension. Both aspects are essential if students are to become good readers.
At Springhallow we follow the Essential Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme but adapted to our students’ pace of learning and personal communication needs.
Many of our students take time to build the skills required for phonics learning. We work on their attention and understanding to ensure they are ready to embark on the formal programme.
Many of our students enjoy the structure of the ELS lessons but these are always delivered at a pace that allows them to access the learning in a meaningful way.
Language comprehension is a key focus for our pupils. We use strategies such as Colourful Semantics, PECS, sensory stories, role play, picture books and films to make stories and other texts meaningful for our students.
Once basic understanding is achieved we work on higher level comprehension skills through Inferencing Training Skills.
Springhallow literacy curriculum focuses on texts that provide a broad experience of reading and also incorporates our students’ interests. Our aim is to introduce vocabulary to support other areas of learning too, especially vocabulary to communicate emotions and to build empathy and understanding of the point of view of others.
Our library and reading areas are calm environments which promote reading for pleasure and personal growth. Reading for pleasure is also promoted on our special activity days such as World Book Day and our Springhallow Booknik.
Writing is not only about handwriting, it is also about the composition skills needed to communicate ideas.
To prepare students for writing, we build their fine motor skills (supported by Occupational Therapy advice) in a variety of multi-sensory and motivating activities, especially drawing and early mark making. We also practice telling stories through singing songs, role play and sensory stories.
We teach writing using traditional pencil and paper and also through digital recording such as typing on the computer, recording on film, texts and emails.
We use Colourful Semantics to support composition and planning writing. We introduce visual ways to plan writing, such as story maps, comic strips, mind maps and more.
Here are some suggestions for reading with your child at home
Oxford Owl provides lots of exciting stories and information texts
Bag Books have great ideas for sensory story telling
The Book Trust have fantastic new recommendations for all age groups