The key to literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text. Reading development involves a range of complex language including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology), all of which provide the platform for reading fluency and comprehension.

When acquired, the reader can apply these skills to critically respond to texts, develop inference and synthesis; to write with accuracy and coherence; and to use information and insights from texts for informed decisions and creative thought. Our aim at St Luke's is to have the highest expectations of each of our children to maximize their abilities within literacy to function as effectively as possible with skills for life beyond childhood into adulthood. All our teaching supports children's access to literacy with the intention of enabling them to have an informed personal view and question what they read.

The development of language and literacy is a focus throughout the school day. All pupils are individually assessed in relation to their levels of language and literacy skills. There is a strong focus on the early stages in language, reading and writing, for example understanding that the printed word or symbol conveys meaning.

Spikey Profiles
Our children have many different learning profiles. Some of our children can read complex sentences and texts, though have immense challenges in understanding the meaning of what they read. As such, specific interventions, levels of questioning and strategies to help them de-code text for cognition will focus highly in planning for this child's progress in learning.

Literacy and English - St Luke's Curriculum

Spoken Language
The National Curriculum reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary, grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.

Reading consists of two dimensions
  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (listening and reading)

  • Writing
    Writing consists of two dimensions
  • Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

  • Spelling, grammar, punctuation
    Pupils are:
  • Taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English
  • Taught the vocabulary needed to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language.
  • Literacy Resources

    Our staff have worked on resources that can be easily accessible to all students.

    A YouTube account has been set up with videos on literacy. You can visit it by clicking here.

    You can also visit a playlist created by our staff that focuses on Hinduism by clicking here (also on YouTube).

    Considering the teaching of literacy

    Children with LDD tend to exhibit spatial relationship difficulties resulting in handwriting problems. Numeracy tends to be a challenge as a result of the abstract reasoning deficit our pupils with cognitive disabilities have. Word identification and phonics are often stronger than comprehension skills, which requires more abstract reasoning and, in general, the ability to go from parts to a whole. Comprehension also requires the reader to be able to understand implicit semantic relationships among words and be able to make inferences.

    Some of our pupils are very sociable and outgoing and others tend to be shy and withdrawn. There is a common factor however, that all our pupils have difficulty reading nonverbal cues, which are often inappropriate in their social interactions.

    Functionality in literacy, in a cognitive sense, involves visual processing and the harder to describe idea of perception. The affected individual does not form visual images easily and does not revisualise well (i.e. from memory). S/he also perceives the world differently than someone whose perceptual ability is seen to be intact. In a way, perception is the more spatial aspect of cognition, e.g. going from parts to whole, understanding cause and effect, etc. So a child with a deficit in this area would tend to focus on the details (and even perseverate on them) but fail to grasp the complete picture.

    Direct instruction can be helpful. As the name implies, it involves directly teaching each aspect of a skill. It also engages the student orally, to ensure that they become an active part of the process. Direct instruction programmes are very sequential in nature, progressing in a building block way until the target skills are acquired and mastered.

    A common element of all of remedial interventions on learning disorders is the use of verbal mediation and verbal self-direction, both for analysing information and for organising to perform a task. This means the child, when taugh through direct instruction; how to talk him/herself through various steps, supports a more successful completion of the process or task.

    This concept can be used to improve verbal reasoning, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and social skills. Because writing involves cognitively difficult processes requiring idea development, organisation, and the ability to go from parts to a whole, it lends itself well to a verbal mediation approach.

    Reading Comprehension:
    • Ensure that decoding skills have been mastered first (the pupil should read words accurately before s/he can understand meaning). Work within a phonics based reading curriculum where possible
    • Teach reading comprehension skills clearly, e.g. making inferences, deductions, understanding cause and effect, etc.
    • Develop self-questionning techniques to monitor comprehension
    • Teach pupils that they must interact with the text
    • Encourage verbalisation of strategies to enable students to internalise comprehension strategies (who, what, why, where, when, etc.)
    • Teach the organisation and structure of paragraphs
    • Teach signal words indicating transitions

    Vocabulary Development:
    • Make concrete associations for unknown words whenever possible
    • Be "child centered", i.e. use words they encounter in their own reading, define words they want to know, work from known associations and understandings
    • Encourage pupils to verbalise and paraphrase their understanding
    • Work towards a depth in understanding - don't let them slide by with surface understandings
    • Connect words into meaningful semantic categories
    • Teach multiple meanings
    • Build semantic maps or webs
    • Highlight morphological rules and patterns, directly teach prefixes, roots, suffixes.

    • Provide brief daily practice to improve handwriting and legibility for those who can
    • Teach pupils to use verbal self-directions to guide those practices
    • Address posture, position of hand and paper, grasp of pencil, directions for forming individual letters
    • Teach keyboard and word processing skills to the student at a young age
    • Focus on only one aspect of writing at a time (e.g. pre-writing, writing, editing)
    • Use Shape Coding strategies to support children's improving comprehension
    • Hold high expectations for the pace and volume of written work, based on the pupil's demonstrated abilities
    • Teach transitional words
    • Teach organisational patterns for writing paragraphs, then for longer pieces of writing
    • Provide a purpose and structure for writing