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Literacy - Reading


Our intention is:

  • To develop a curriculum which provides the children with a broad range of experiences which are describable through rich vocabulary
  • To prioritise the essential skills for language and communication across the curriculum
  • To teach pupils the skills they need to read and communicate in ways relevant to their individual needs
  • To provide a literacy-rich environment with high quality books and resources
  •  For children to become inquisitive about books and to enjoy reading or being read to
  •  To deliver an engaging and motivating reading curriculum
  • To follow, when appropriate to an individual pupil, a systematic, synthetic approach to phonics which lays the foundations required to become a fluent reader
  • To use a range of teaching strategies in response to the unique ways that pupils learn to read
  • That pupils will read and/or respond to a wide range of texts.


Reading for pleasure is an activity that has real emotional and social consequences. There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development. (DfE 2012)


A wide range of strategies are used to teach literacy at Millstead in order to best meet the needs of its pupils, many of whom have difficulty with auditory or visual processing, long and short-memory or other difficulties which are prerequisites to proficient reading and writing.


We use the National Curriculum, to help structure our Programmes of Study for Literacy but draw knowledge, skills and understanding from EYFS and Key Stage 1.


Developing a love of stories, books and reading at Millstead


Whole Class Story Time

Teachers and support staff tell stories to children regularly. The stories are chosen from a box of agreed, pre-selected books. The planning of books shared during story time ensures that a range of materials are used over the year and key stage, to avoid repetition and ensure that the children experience of wide range of high-quality texts.


Sensory Stories

& Bag Books


Sensory stories convey simple narratives using a mixture of text and complimentary sensory experiences. Each section of the story is accompanied by a sensory experience to help bring the story to life.  When telling sensory stories, it is good to incorporate all the senses where appropriate so touch, smell, sounds, taste and visual stimuli. Sensory stories are appropriate for all children in school and enable them to access stories in many ways rather than just auditory involvement.

Sensory Story Umbrellas

Story umbrellas are a fun way of immersing a child in a story. Story props and sensory stimuli are displayed on the umbrella. These are props are brought around in to the child’s eyeline at the appropriate time in the story. Children are encouraged to reach out and explore the resources.


Audio Stories

According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobooks help “build and enhance vital literacy skills such as fluency, vocabulary, language acquisition, pronunciation, phonemic awareness, and comprehension”. Using audio books enables pupils to engage with a story of their choice without relying on an adult to read it to them. It is intended that pupils will be able to access good quality texts outside of school enabling them to make positive use of their leisure time.


Story Massage

The story massage programme offers a fun and fully inclusive way of combining the creativity of story, song and rhyme with the benefits of positive touch. Each line of the story is accompanied by a specific massage move.


Magazines & Comics

The Benefits of Comic Books & Magazines:

  • Reluctant readers become ravenous readers.
  • Struggling readers gain confidence.
  • Readers develop inference skills.
  • Readers expand their bank of words.
  • Young children who read about different topics can increase their knowledge of the world around them.


Reading Corner

In some classrooms, teachers have transformed a physical space in the classroom to create a conducive, lively and inviting space for reading. Reading corners contain a range of reading material and formats appropriate to the level of development and interests of the children in the class group.


Reading for Pre-Formal Pupils

PMLD Cohort: simple stories are created by the class teacher. These may be based on a published story, or made up. The stories are told orally and with expression.

The stories are multi-sensory and at some point, all appropriate senses are covered. Each part of the story has a sensory event with an accompanying stimulus.

Through the use of sensory stories that are repeated over time, it is possible for children to begin to anticipate the order of events in the story, respond consistently to the stimuli and to show enjoyment during the story sessions. It is intended that one story is the focus for a half term which is delivered consistently by the staff team.

It is expected that there are sufficient resources provided so that the children can have opportunity to explore and interact with the sensory item without waiting for extended periods of time for their turn. It is appreciated that some resources will need to be shared to allow the children to develop anticipation and turn taking skills.


Complex ASC Cohort: simple stories are created by the class teacher. These may be based on a published story, or made up. The stories are created and delivered electronically to support engagement. Published stories are adapted by the addition of symbols, simplified text and musical cues where appropriate.

The stories are multi-sensory and each part of the story has a sensory element. Stories are told daily for a 2-week period to support anticipation, recognition of key part of the story and consistency of response to stimuli.

Stories are also used to develop basic skills in communication, language and literacy.


Developing pupils' 'pre-reading' skills is an essential part of the literacy curriculum at Millstead especially amongst our pre-formal and semi-formal learners. Pre-reading skills focus on teaching children to tune into sounds, remembering them and gradually learning to name them.  This is done in lots of different ways, e.g. nursery rhymes, sound-based games, e.g. sound lotto or exploring the sounds different instruments make.


Reading for Semi-Formal and Formal Pupils

Phonics is taught using the Read,Write Inc programme.

This programme teaches phonics in a systematic, synthetic way. RWInc promotes speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending skills.

A typical phonics session follows a set structure: Revisit and Review (Speed Sounds) -previoulsy taught phonemes; Teach (a new phoneme / special friends - 2 letters but 1 sound) Practise and Apply.

Pupils typically revisit the same phonemes and graphemes many times so they become embedded.  We understand that to progress in reading, children need to read with fluency and accuracy, otherwise their working memory will be overloaded and will impact on their ability to derive meaning from the text.  Our children need to become automatic in their recognition of phonemes so that they can decode words at speed and accurately.We are therefore always on the lookout for how we can reinforce our phonics across the school day. 

As part of the RWInc programme, the children are introduced to 'red words' which do not follow phonetic patterns and so must be learnt individually.

Once children are working at Red Ditty Level, they are introduced to reading books. The books include only the phonemes that the children have learnt and the 'red words' that they have been introuced to.

At home, parents scan a QR code which takes them to a virtual classroom. The activities here match what the children have been learning in school. These activities include online reading books and videos for the children to watch and join in with.


Adults encourage reading strategies to help children decode texts with greater independence. We use the following stratgies to support independent reading:

  • Sharp Eye: Look at the pictures.
  • Mouse the Mouth: Say the first sound.
  • Sound Talk It: Say each sound.
  • Chunky Monkey: Break the word into manageable chunks.
  • Don’t Forget: Use your memory. Have you seen this word before?
  • Hop, Skip and Jump: Read to the end and come back to where you got stuck.
  • Try on the Fly: Try a word that makes sense.
  • Slide the Snake: Bend the sounds together.
  • Tommy Tracker: Point to each word as you read.
  • Flippy Dolphin: Flip the vowel from short to long.


Many of our pupils will remain at a pre-reading level and not all of our pupils will learn to read through phonics or whole-word recognition.