English lessons focus on reading and writing skills and each student has two English lessons a week. Each student has a weekly set target for reading, writing and speaking & listening which are addressed throughout the curriculum.
Reading for meaning is constantly promoted to support developing independence skills. Where needed, symbols are used in delivering lessons, instructions and displays to support all pupils and enhance understanding. Students are specifically taught the functional language they will need outside and beyond school and to help prepare them for independent living. This could, for example, take the form of recognising signs in the environment or following instructions.
All pupils have access to high quality reading materials in their classrooms and in the school library. Each classroom has a reading area and pupils are encouraged to borrow books to read at home. We promote the enjoyment of reading and every term students will study high quality texts which have been adapted from the Power of Reading programme offered through CLPE. Students study a wide range of texts including poetry, short stories, novels and Shakespeare.
Students have opportunities to read independently, with staff, in pairs, groups or as a whole class. There are opportunities for role play, improvisation and imaginary play. Pupils regularly hear adults read aloud in order to encourage comprehension and enjoyment of written language.
Every student has a thirty-minute reading lesson each day in which they work on their individual reading targets. This ensures they are focused entirely on what they need to make the next step in their learning.
Students have regular access to Bug Club – an exciting reading programme that enables them to access texts on the computer in the classroom and at home. These books can be chosen by the class teacher to work either on their particular focus e.g. plays or non-fictions texts or to work at the level appropriate to the student.
Students are given opportunities every day to practise and hone their writing skills. We work closely with the school’s Occupational Therapist to ensure that students are given the appropriate personalised support they need to progress with their gross and fine motor skills.
Students are encouraged to write for a wide range of purposes and audiences and to develop vocabulary relevant for any focused topic. Students are given a range of engaging topics that are both relevant and motivating for their lives and experiences. Further to this, students engage with high quality texts as a springboard to encourage their own high quality writing.
Writing is an important life skill and the students are encouraged to be able to write at the best of their ability to support them for the rest of their lives. They are encouraged to write to fill out forms, to express their feelings and to show their understanding of the world around them.
Speaking and Listening
Students work on their speaking and listening skills in every lesson, but these are particularly the focus of Social Communication and Drama lessons. In Social Communication and Drama, lessons are based around our students’ very individual and specific communication and social interaction needs. Lessons develop confidence, independence, advocacy and communication with others in a wide range of real life situations.
Students are also supported in their communication in whatever way best suits them such as iPads, PECs boards and the use of Makaton signing. All the work that we do to support students’ communication is done in partnership with our speech and language therapists.
Key Stage 3 English
In Key Stage 3, we focus on the skills and techniques required to learn English skills at Spa School. We introduce the students to a range of activities and texts more suited to a secondary school environment to move away from the primary curriculum.
Key Stage 4 English
In Key Stage 4, we begin to think about what it means to be an adult and develop the life skills we need as young adults. As the students are now familiar with the routines and expectations of Spa School, they apply their skills to new and more challenging activities and experiences such as persuading others of their points of view or researching independently.
Key Stage 5 Accreditation in English
In Key Stage 5, all students will gain accreditation for their English work. These take a range of forms:
- EdExcel Functional Skills exams
- WJEC accredited courses such as Exploring Narrative, Communicating Experiences, Exploring Shakespeare
- ASDAN personal progress
They move on from Spa School feeling proud of all they have achieved and ready for their next steps.