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Wyre Forest School Approach to Reading

Wyre Forest School Approach to Reading

Reading rationale

What do we want to achieve and why do we want to achieve it?

The ability to read is fundamental to many aspects of life, and is central to general progress and developing an understanding in a wide range of areas of the curriculum. The teaching of reading is to be given a high priority by all staff. Reading develops pupils’ imagination, experiences and supports conceptual learning. It is our aim that, by the end of their Wyre Forest education, pupils are able to read to a functional level with increasing fluency so that they can access the world around them with increasingly growing confidence and skill. ​We intend to achieve this whilst ensuring that the provision takes into account the uniqueness and complexity of our learners.

For pupils with additional needs, reading development is a continuum and we need to view its development in its widest sense. From foundation skills- sound awareness and discrimination to formal reading skills, decoding, segmenting/blending complex combinations of letters and sounds. Reading may be interpreted as any activity that leads to the derivation of meaning from visual or tactile representation, for example objects, pictures, symbols or written words. They may be accessed visually, aurally or through touch.

Our reading strategy also demonstrates the inextricable link we recognise between reading and communication - Words have meaning, power and consequences and language provides the connective tissue to help connect people (when used well). All staff are trained in and used a total communication approach to learning.


To promote high expectations of learning in reading, we aim to ensure that pupils:

  • are provided with a language-rich learning environment, that supports every level of reading.

  • are provided with opportunities to develop their auditory discrimination through experiences of sounds, language, speaking/listening, music, movement and dance, story massage and approaches such as Tacpac and more.

  • are given opportunities to engage/access books, sensory stories and sensory objects to encourage their interest in books.

  • choose and peruse books /sensory  objects relating to a  story freely as well as sharing them when read by an adult. 

  • to show their preference for books, stories and objects via their preferred method of communication.

  • enjoying and sharing books /sensory props, to see them as a source of pleasure. The aim is to spark interest and  motivate them to enjoy reading.

  • are prepared for learning to read through developing symbolic representation, this can be from starting with objects of reference, to understanding photographs as representations of objects then to understanding symbols such as those used in Widgit; then to letters and words.

  • read with increasing fluency and understanding; their working memory is increasingly able to focus on comprehension and conceptual understanding.
  • develop the habit of reading often, for both pleasure and information.

  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic  conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.

  • write with increasing clarity and coherence to meet the demands of a language rich world.

  • use communication in order to learn; and to express their needs and wants.

  • are growing competence in the skills of communication, asking and responding to questions and participating in discussions, demonstrating an understanding of what they have read.

  • develop and address their reading skills within all areas of their curriculum provision and learning beyond the classroom as class staff use their knowledge of pupils to ensure this happens. This will ensure we achieve fluency and competency of reading skills as it is embedded in long term memory.

How will we ensure pupils are making progress and achieving well in their learning of reading?

Pupils will learn to read with a specific focus on phonics through Read Write Inc. Staff will also recognise how the other strands within English will support learning in reading as well as its role within all subject curriculum documents.

Pupils will:

  • experience a total communication learning environment through use of strategies and aids such as PECS,  VOCA, Widgit and Signalong.
  • immersion in sounds through music, online stories, speech etc.

  • begin their reading journey when assessed as ‘ready’ by staff. A pupil’s readiness will be recognised as being able to maintain concentration and attention, displays positive dispositions and attitudes to learning and engages with environmental sounds.

  • begin to access phonics through the Wyre Forest Communication, Literacy and Language Phonics  (CLLP) programme. Staff will engage pupils and develop their communication and language skills through singing songs, nursery rhymes and playing games
  • complete a baseline assessment in phonics, using the Read Write Inc assessment to inform their starting point and from which progress can be tracked.

  • work through Read Write Inc synthetic phonics programme and this is delivered systematically across the Pathways where it is relevant and appropriate at individual level.

  • read books which follow the delivered sounds of Read Write Inc and balance this with reading books which develop their understanding and vocabulary development at the appropriate level.

  • encounter staff sharing a love of reading and also reading aloud to them in a way that excites and engages them, introducing new ideas, concepts and vocabulary.
  • have regular reading sessions, that focus on impacting on learning in reading. This could be in the form of phonics, reading, comprehension vocabulary development.

  • Develop their self-esteem and love of reading through reading to Molly, our school dog. Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the presence of dogs has on children and due to the fact that the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical. When the pupils are partnered with Molly to read to, the dog provides comfort, encourages positive social behaviour, enhances self-esteem, motivates speech and inspires our pupils to have fun and enjoy the experience of reading.
  • Use their reading skills functionally, in real life situations. Our Sixth Form students will apply their reading skills throughout their curriculum, particularly when out in the community. They will use their reading skills  to access different services, communicate with members of the local community and develop their independence.

Child reading Child reading  


How will we know pupils are learning well in reading?

Pupils read frequently to access information and for enjoyment and this is celebrated, encouraged and modelled by school adults. Pupil progress and attainment is measured through:

  • WFS Progression Steps


  • Book band levels

  •  Phonics Phase

This provides a very rounded and informative picture of how our pupils progress in their reading skills.

Pupil achievement in their end of Year 11 outcomes, Functional Literacy and Pearson Edexcel Functional Skills English (where appropriate) also provides a measure of the impact in Reading. Pupils are also well prepared for their transition to a post 16 provision and preparation for life after Wyre Forest School.

Each pupil’s learning in reading is led by informed target setting to ensure expectations are high and they are reading at a level appropriate to their needs, age and ability.

Measuring progress

How will we monitor pupils’ reading progress?

Every pupil’s progress will be recorded on the whole school assessment system ‘Evidence for Learning’. Class teams will collect photographic, video and observational evidence for every pupil. This evidence will be linked to the individual’s progress on the Wyre Forest Progression steps Reading Assessment framework.  The Reading Assessment framework begins at WFS Communication, Language and Phonics Attention and Listening and goes through to developing comprehension skills.

How will we ensure all pupils are making progress in reading?

The synthetic phonetic approach may not enable all pupils to learn to read and these pupils will have access to other methods of learning reading. Pupils will be continually assessed by staff to ensure that they are ‘ready’ and will begin the  Wyre Forest Communication, Language and Literacy phonics programme. When it is assessed and decided that a pupil needs a different approach, there are a range of approaches they could access, dependant on age and need:

  • See and Learn Language and Reading- for pupils who learn and develop their reading skills using sight words
  • Nessy Reading and Spelling- for pupils who have dyslexic traits or those who require more support when blending sounds.