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Cliffdale Primary School








At Cliffdale, staff have high aspirations for all the children and believe that reading and writing are integral lifelong skills that help to develop children’s language, imagination, independence and most importantly their communication.

By the time children leave Cliffdale they will have developed their reading and writing skills, increased their understanding of text, sounds, objects, pictures, symbols and developed their potential to interact with people and the environment.

The teaching and learning of communication skills, reading and writing will allow our children to have the skills they require to lead confident and happy lives.

How we teach


  • At Cliffdale the vast majority of children learn to read by sight recognition. As a school we have created a bank of relevant and appropriate Familiar Sight Words (FSW) as an introduction to reading.
  • Teachers personalise FSW sets further by linking them to individual children's interests and termly topics.
  • The majority of our children are visual learners; therefore, symbols are vital. Consequently, symbols are consistently used to support the reading of FSW.
  • Alongside FSW, where appropriate children are introduced to phonics to support their sight word recognition.
  • We encourage increased engagement and a love of books, by ensuring high quality texts are integral to our topic planning – using library (books and sensory resources).
  • Children are encouraged to answer questions about familiar texts and share their responses, using supportive communication aids, for example Aided Language Boards (ALB), props and symbols.
  • We ensure there are opportunities to generalise skills, for example reading symbol shopping lists during a trip to the shops.


Within Cliffdale Primary Academy a positive writing culture is promoted, where children understand the purpose and audience for their work; writing wherever possible for a real purpose.

All children have opportunities to produce recorded work using a system appropriate to their needs. A variety of media including real objects, photographs, symbol, written word or computer-generated print/symbols are used to enhance and support writing. These also enable children to have ownership of their writing.

Writing begins with:

  • Children exploring sensory and mark-making activities.
  • Left to right posting with a gradual reduction in the size of the objects posted in order to enable development of fine motor skills.
  • A variety of fine motor activities.
  • Children completing single picture matching activities which develop into single picture matching activities which require making a choice
  • Labelling – to begin with labels are placed over, under and next to the model before labelling without a model.
  • Spelling with letter tiles – as above, with a model then without model.
  • Sentence writing with symbols.
  • Using adjectives through the use of symbols.
  • Writing without symbol support.
  • A personalised range of frames and scaffolding are always used to support the children.

Writing with a pen is taught through the development of fine and gross motor skills using a range of media. This moves onto more formal handwriting where appropriate for the individual child.

What difference does this make to the children?

  • Children develop a love of reading.
  • Children are able to communicate more effectively.
  • Functional skills are enhanced, such as, being able to read signs in the environment
  • Children demonstrate an increase in their independence, and are able to transition around school

This will all enable pupils to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links, which will all help to inspire, challenge and enthuse pupils. Pupils will practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through literacy lessons to other areas of the curriculum.

Children’s development in English is evidenced in their progress across all four areas of their EHCP. This is primarily seen in ‘Communication and Interaction’ and ‘Cognition and Learning’.

Within these areas Annual Review targets and Key Skills target will link directly to the English curriculum. Additionally, in SEMH, targets and progress may link to pre-reading skills such as attention, as well as social communication skills.

Within children’s ‘Sensory and Physical’ EHCP targets progress will be seen in fine motor skills such as manipulating symbols, handwriting and typing.

 Why we teach Reading and Writing