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Inspiring interaction

Language and Literacy


Our Language & Literacy curriculum fosters a sense of Community in the classroom and beyond by encouraging students to work together and share their ideas in a safe environment, and to support each other. Students also learn about different cultures, disabilities, and communities through our wide variety of literature in school. We teach using a Total Communication approach, which enables all students to have a voice, and therefore a choice, in all aspects of life. We support students to develop their skills in using and understanding language and vocabulary which helps them to build relationships and participate fully in all aspects of the school curriculum. We believe that teaching communication and literacy skills are vital for our students’ Wellbeing and Independence. Many of our students require support for this and have access to assistive technology such as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. Developing a functional level of literacy is our goal for every student – this means that they will be able to go out into the world and independently complete tasks such as writing a shopping list, reading a TV guide, or choosing a meal from a menu in a café. As students move through the school, they can apply their knowledge and skills through English accreditation, preparing them for their next steps in education. It is our intent to promote a love of reading throughout the school though the ‘Pathfield Reading Spine’ and specialist literacy areas.


The Language & Literacy curriculum at Pathfield School aims to develop the literacy and oracy skills of all students, enabling them to participate fully in their communities and live fulfilling lives in which they are able to access information and engage in the world around them. We are passionate about encouraging all students to achieve their potential by any means possible and use a variety of assistive technologies to support this.

At Pathfield, every student’s reading journey begins with a secure grounding in phonological awareness. Our pre-formal students learn communication skills as pre-reading, including visual and auditory discrimination. Once ready, they then move onto the more formal phonics lessons.

Our curriculum is designed to promote our four pillars of intent: community, communication, wellbeing and independence. We use a variety of teaching and learning techniques to develop students’ skills in the following areas:

  • Reading and Writing (literacy): We use a systematic synthetic phonics programme called Read Write Inc. (RWI) & Fresh Start (FS), to teach students in Key Stages 1-4 to read and write. The programme supports students to feel confident and successful by following well-structured, repetitive lessons. In KS4 & the 6th Form, all students follow accredited courses through either the EQUALS (Moving-On Literacy) or NCFE English Functional Skills.
  • Speaking and Listening (Oracy): Throughout our curriculum, we teach students to be effective communicators, focusing on their skills to listen, understand and respond clearly in a way that can be understood by all, in a variety of contexts.

Read Write Inc.

As previously stated, we have chosen RWI as our preferred method of teaching reading. Our Reading Leader works closely with our RWI consultant during regular development days and training events to maintain quality and ensure we meet the needs of all learners. Please see the videos below for more information about the Read Write Inc. phonics programme including an introduction from our Reading Leader & English Lead – Jenna.


Parents please click on the link below to find out more about RWI and there will be further opportunities to come into school and learn more about it.

Parent guide to Read Write Inc. Phonics – Oxford Owl


Reading Spines

All classes from the EYFS & KS1 through to KS4 follow the key texts on the ‘Pathfield Reading Spine’. A Reading Spine is a collection of books that we would like all students to experience and enjoy before they leave school. These books form our core texts around which we deliver a range of different subjects thematically. They are also supplemented with additional reading materials from our wide range of literature in our school library. Students have regular sessions within our school library to take home books that they can share with the family. As students move into the secondary department, they are provided with access to the much larger Barnstaple Library in town.

Our Reading Spine is a collection of children’s books selected for the quality of their writing, illustration and ability to represent the lives and experiences of all children regardless of their gender, ethnicity or social class.

We surveyed parents, staff and students, and created the lists based on interest and engagement, content that includes diversity and inclusion, and books that contain increasingly complex vocabulary and concepts as the students move up through the Key Stages.

Please click on the links below to view the Reading Spine lists.

Pathfield’s EYFS & KS1 Reading Spine

Pathfield’s KS2 Reading Spine

Pathfield’s KS3 Reading Spine

Pathways KS3 Reading Spine

Pathfield’s KS4 Reading Spine


English Interventions

We have three Teaching Assistants who deliver literacy and oracy interventions across the school, based on needs as determined by assessments and referrals:

Hayley – Speech and Language Therapy assistant
Caroline – RWI Fast-track Tutoring (one-to-one sessions)
Heidi – Pathfield Oracy (vocabulary and comprehension small group sessions)

Buddy Readers

In KS2 and 3, students are visited once per week by students from Pilton Bluecoat School and Pilton Community College, respectively. During this time, they share stories together in the school library, looking at the pictures together and discussing the story to develop their understanding. This is a really special time that is valued by all as it gives opportunities to develop reading and comprehension skills as well as social interaction and communication skills.



Student’s individual progress in literacy is measured within the Cognition & Learning and Communication & Interaction sections of their EHCP. All students who are ready for phonics will have a target related to RWI that is reviewed termly. In addition to this, the Reading Leader will assess the progress students make in reading twice a year to ensure consistency and identify any students for further intervention. Our strong ethos of Total Communication and opportunities to access assistive technology means our students will become effective communicators able to express their views and wishes. They will have had many opportunities and work-related experiences to apply their skills in real-life situations with a range of other people. This contributes to them becoming as independent as possible and able to communicate what they want to do next in life.