For pupils to have functional literacy skills to:
- Understand that printed communication has a purpose
- Write to access the curriculum successfully and show understanding across subjects
- To write for a range of functional purposes
- To have writing 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.
SAIL's writing process
English enables our pupils to express themselves imaginatively and creatively and to communicate with others effectively.
We recognise that writing is an essential part of the curriculum, we have high expectations for all of our pupils, and we work hard to create engaging and interesting opportunities for everyone.
We make sure that the English knowledge and abilities are progressive and cumulative so that they have a variety of possibilities to engage with various literary genres and text kinds.
Action words/Whole word approach:
Some of our learners with more specific and complex learning profiles are more suited to learning to write and spell using a ‘whole word’ approach (particularly where blending and segmenting phonics has not been successful for example where a child has barriers to learning linked to weak central coherence and therefore is unable to bring details together to a central concept). Whole words are taught through a variety of multisensory mediums combining a visual prompt, an action and where required an association (building on the concept of Grandin (1995) ‘Thinking in Pictures). Writers are encouraged the use this approach in a variety of contexts to support the generalisation of the skill.
Writing for purpose
Writing can be quite daunting for our learners, so wherever possible, learning is linked to a special interest or functional skill which the pupils understand. Imaginative and creative writing can be difficult for some of our autistic learners, especially those who are still developing ‘Theory of Mind’ and find it difficult to see others' points of view or perspective. Therefore, teaching of writing is linked to real life events and experiences where possible, to give children something to draw upon in their own personal writing. Teaching of writing is also scaffolded and supported by the class teacher, support staff, visual supports, the environment and routine of learning.
Writing sessions are planned daily, and as learners progress through the academy the challenges of what they write and the features it includes will increase. Writing sessions are supported where appropriate by a 'Shape Coding' approach and 'Word Aware' sessions underpin the understanding of key vocabulary. Pupils are encouraged to write a variety of different texts during their time at SAIL, based upon their learning ability, topic and interest. These texts could include stories, newspapers, lists, instructions, letters, recounts, diary entries etc.
In Phase 1 and 2 we use 'Talk for Writing' approaches to support our pupils writing journey due to its multisensory format of learning texts.
In Phase 2, pupils are given opportunities to develop their writing in different forms and for different audiences including stories, scripts, imaginative writing, newspaper articles and letters. They begin to write clearly, accurately and more coherently, applying their ever-increasing knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and text structure to their writing which is appropriate to the form and audience for which they are writing. Pupils also learn to refine their drafting skills as well as develop resilience to writing at length.
For our pathfinder and pathfinder* pathway we have 3 different qualifications on offer. Entry Level (1, 2 &3), Functional Skills and GCSE English language and literature. All pupils are expected to write effectively and coherently using English appropriately. They should use grammar, punctuation and spelling accurately as well as acquire and develop further, appropriate vocabulary.
For the Entry Level qualification, pupils are taught the skills based on those needed for GCSE English Language. They will communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively and be able to adapt their tone and style in order to write for different purposes and audiences. They will also be taught the different structural features of texts in order for their writing to be coherent. This will involve learning how and when to use bullet points, captions and subheadings. Pupils will learn how and when to use full stops, commas, exclamation marks and question marks.
In the GCSE pathway, pupils are taught to write for different purposes and audience through writing to describe, narrate, explain, instruct, argue and inform. Pupils will learn how to use language imaginatively and creatively to write for impact across different forms. This will include learning how and when to use rhetorical devices. Pupils will learn how to cite evidence and use quotations effectively and pertinently to support their views.
Pupils who leave SAIL Entry Level or Functional Skills will have the opportunity to gain further qualifications at college alongside the subject they choose to study.
Measuring the Impact of the English Writing Curriculum:
Writing is assessed against the writing KPIs that are curriculum and pathway specific. In pupils are assessed using Earwig which follows the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Writing assessment is regularly moderated to ensure accuracy. Progress towards the end of year writing targets is evaluated through pupil assessment and progress cycle and then appropriate individual interventions are put in place to decrease the barriers to learning.
Feedback on writing tasks is given to pupils within the lesson through live marking. Pupils are given feedback on an area they did well and an area for improvement or ‘next steps’. The feedback is individualised so that they can develop the skills they need to progress in the areas which are important to them and the pathway they are on.
- Feedback on writing tasks within the lesson
- Teacher assessment against the writing Key Performance Indicators that are cohort/pathway specific. Writing assessment is regularly moderated to ensure accuracy.
- Progress towards end of year writing targets is evaluated through Pupil assessment and progress cycle.
The writing curriculum is evaluated through the termly curriculum review which is informed by:
- Progress Frameworks - autism, knowledge and skills bespoke to cohort pathway.
- Progress towards EHCP outcomes
- Accreditation achieved
- Pupil progress and attainment cycle
- Pupil voice
- Staff curriculum evaluation
- Parent voice
Impact of the English Writing Curriculum:
All SAIL pupils will leave the academy with functional writing 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.