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Curriculum Overview

English Reading

For pupils to have functional reading skills to:

  • Understand printed communication in its varied forms to enhance knowledge and understanding of the world around them
  • Read to access the curriculum successfully and achieve within it
  • To read printed communications through a range of mediums
  • To have reading skills to access knowledge throughout life


A range of strategies and techniques are used at SAIL building on the strengths of our learners with autism/SEMH and their individual learning styles. 

The Reading Journey:

Early Reading Skills:

A child’s reading journey in Key Stage 1 begins with the development of the understanding that print (in all its forms) has permanence and meaning.

This is encouraged through the exploration of pictures, symbols, signs, letters and words throughout the environment and through discrete teaching. Readers are actively encouraged to communicate about what they can read in the world around them and discuss their interpretation of its meaning.

Readers are encouraged to join in with songs and rhymes to develop language and communication skills, this is further developed in daily story times and opportunities for individualised reading exploration including sequencing activities, role play and reading with others.

We recognise that many of our learners present with Executive Functioning needs and therefore we employ a range of autism enablement strategies to support our readers to organise their thoughts (e.g. scaffolding a sequence of events), plan their responses (e.g. accessing prior knowledge and making connections) and monitor their understanding (e.g. creating mental images, engaging in discussions and summarising)


All children have the opportunity to learn to read through a synthetic phonics approach.

The detailed and cumulative structure of this approach to learning to read builds on some of the strengths our learners with autism have who see the detail within the ‘whole’. We use the 'Read Write Inc Phonics' program for our learners who are 8 years old and below; our learners age 9 and above access the 'Read Write Inc Fresh Start' program. Teaching is targeted to each individuals level of challenge. All phonics sessions are taught through various multi-sensory formats providing our learners with a range of experiences to develop their phonetic awareness. There are frequent opportunities for ‘over learning’ concepts so that our learners experience them in a range of contexts to help scaffold the generalisation and transference of skills which some of our learners find more difficult in line with their diagnosis of autism.   

Reading for meaning – teaching comprehension skills:

Comprehension of what a reader has read can be a difficult skill for our learners with autism to develop, especially for readers who are still developing ‘Theory of Mind’ and find it difficult to understand others’ point of view or perspective.

Some readers may present with elements of ‘Hyperlexia’ which is characterised by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced ability to decode/read words however comprehension of what has been read is significantly more difficult.

To enable our readers to comprehend what they have read we use the following strategies personalised to a reader’s level of comprehension:

Before reading we:

  • Allow the reader to access and build background knowledge
  • Present the reader with visual support in relation to the text
  • Pre-teach key vocabulary
  • Create mental image
  • Picture walk through the text

During reading:

  • Make connections
  • Make a visual representation of the story e.g. graphical organiser, story map

After reading:

  • Reciprocal questioning
  • Modelling how to generate and answer questions – presented visually
  • Summarise understanding
  • Story Recall Teaching students to create causal connections and causal chains – presented visually
  • Use the 5Ws to summarise: who, what, where, when, why

Reading opportunities:

Readers at SAIL have a variety of opportunities to read and enjoy a range of materials, fiction and non-fiction through books, newspapers, magazines, comics and a variety of electronic texts and audiobooks. Our text range reflects a modern, multi-cultural and equality focussed society.

Many of our learners have a special interest which is embraced as a motivator to encourage reading for pleasure through the reading material that most engages our learners.

Reading is planned daily throughout the academy both through discrete lessons, embedded throughout the curriculum and through additional personalised intervention as required. As learners progress through the academy, they will progress to reading whole texts at an appropriate level, for examples short stories, plays or novels.

Choosing a text - Our Reading Schemes and Special Interest Library

Our readers have access to a wide range of texts linked to a colour banded progression. Additionally, pupils at SAIL are assessed through STAR assessments on Accelerated Reader targetting personalised book recommendations based on learners interests and reading level. Accelerated reader is also linked to 'My On', an online platform, available at home with over 6000 books to enjoy at leisure.  To encourage reading for pleasure pupil's can access our 'Special Interest Library' where the text categories to choose from are decided by pupil voice.

Reading scheme texts pupils read are closely linked to their phonics knowledge - the coloured banding of a pupils reading book directly relates to their Read Write Inc Phonics Steps. We provide a range of schemes linked to a colour banded progression to encourage our more reluctant readers to find 'the right text/scheme' for their needs and to provide all children with a breadth of texts to explore.

Our coloured banded library includes texts published by:

  • Read Write Inc
  • Rising Stars Reading Planet
  • Rapid Readers
  • Oxford Reading Tree
  • Treetops
  • Jolly Phonics 
  • Pearson

Reading Assessment

Pupils' reading skills are regularly assessed for fluency and comprehension skills using the PM Benchmark Assessment alongside accelerated reader. A coloured banding is allocated based on the assessment outcome. Pupils are given personalised reading targets in line with their coloured band that they work towards during individual and guided reading sessions.

Pupils' wider reading skills are targeted and assessed during guided reading sessions and reading across the curriculum. Progress is recorded three times a year in line with our 'pupil progress and assessment cycle'.

Pupils reading is assessed using the SAIL Reading Assessment Framework on our Earwig Assessment Platform. 

Reading at Home

We are aware that linked to a diagnosis of autism/SEMH the 'fixed mindset' of some of our pupils view 'school work' as being 'for school only'. In this situation we are happy to discuss home reading options on a personalised level with families to establish an individualised approach. We do encourage reading at home for pleasure and offer a range of ways for pupils to enjoy reading at home such as:

  • taking home a reading book from our coloured scheme
  • taking home a book from our pupil voice driven 'special interest' library
  • access to online 'Accelerated Reader/ My On' (online)
  • regular creative reading challenges via Class Dojo

Impact Measures:

  • Feedback on reading learning tasks within the lesson
  • Teacher assessment against reading assessment frameworks. 
  • Progress towards end of year reading targets is evaluated through the pupil assessment and progress cycle 
  • The reading curriculum is evaluated through the termly curriculum review which is informed by:


  • Progress Frameworks. 
  • Progress towards EHCP outcomes 
  • Accreditation achieved 
  • Pupil progress and attainment cycle 
  • Pupil voice
  • Staff curriculum evaluation 
  • Parent voice 

Impact of the Reading Curriculum:

All SAIL pupils will leave the academy with functional reading skills to lead a safe independent life. This will be evident in all pupils achieving as a minimum the Entry Level 1 qualification in English; many will achieve higher level qualifications such as further Entry Levels, Functional Skills Qualifications and some may achieve GCSE English. 

Contact Us

SAIL (Salisbury Academy for Inspirational Learning)
Wilton Road

T: 01722 694013