Reading and Writing
Curriculum documents for ‘Reading and Writing’ and ‘Functional English’ inform pupil learning maps. These documents are progressive and were written using research and evidence from a range of sources such as the Read Write Inc Phonics Programme, colourful semantics and sensory stories. The Functional English curriculum was written in collaboration with the Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist.
Literacy teaching will have a different emphasis according to the pupil’s age and reading and writing ability. For students at the earliest stages of reading and writing and those getting ready for more formal phonics lessons there is likely to be more focus on listening skills, sound play and messy mark making. At Drumbeat the teaching of reading uses phonics at its core and many pupils follow the Read Write Inc: Phonics Programme. Once pupils have completed this they move on to Read Write Inc: Comprehension. Once children consistently read accurately, fluently and can make plausible inferences from a text they have the skills to access Read Write Inc: Literacy and Language.
Alongside core reading and writing skills Drumbeat focuses on Functional English skills. This area of the curriculum looks at meaningful skill development alongside applying core skills to ensure outcomes impact pupil’s life outcomes. The Functional English scheme enriches the Reading and Writing curriculum to provide all pupils at Drumbeat the opportunity to apply and generalise meaningful reading and writing skills to all areas of the curriculum and life beyond Drumbeat. For some pupils it offers, alternative reading and writing strategies that may be more appropriate or useful e.g. learning to read symbols within the environment and community (toilet doors or bus stops) or typing. Functional English also looks at the literacy skills required as our students enter adulthood and careers e.g. reading a TV schedule or filling out a form.
In KS4, pupils at our institution progress to accreditations such as AQA entry level awards and Pearson Edexcel for their English learning areas. In KS5, pupils transition to a functional skills curriculum. The KS5 English Functional Skills curriculum is based on Pearson Edexcel's functional English framework, with high academic achievers undergoing Pearson's formal functional skills accreditations. Additionally, KS5's bespoke functional skills curriculum was developed in collaboration with our Occupational Therapist at Drumbeat and is taught through the implementation of enterprise projects. These curriculums prioritise the development of relevant skills for future life and the practical application of literacy skills. For instance, as part of an AQA English unit award, students may enhance their site vocabulary reading skills and utilize them to follow instructions for preparing a simple snack. Consequently, our focus in KS4 and KS5 is less on decoding and spelling skills for our students.
Reading for pleasure is promoted across all key stages and looks to encourage a love of reading and storytelling for all reading abilities. Some pupils enjoy sharing stories and rhymes with others using multi-sensory approaches or are learning to read symbols to engage in motivating activities. Pupils are encouraged to retell their own stories in a variety of mediums e.g. symbolic play, photos or verbal language. Pupils can pursue their own special interests through books and reading materials such as comics or song lyrics.
Literacy teaching across the school can include a range of strategies and interventions, which are detailed in the reading and writing handbook.