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    Literacy & Communication


    Communication is a vital part of learning at The Avenue and to many students represents their greatest barrier to successful learning.

    Students at our school communicate through verbal means, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), Makaton (sign language) and paper or electronic communication aids. Some students find it very difficult to communicate even their most basic needs or preferences. Pupils supported by the Sensory Curriculum spend a lot of their learning time exploring preferences and communicative reactions.

    Staff at The Avenue School are particularly experienced in helping students to communicate using PECS and have seen great success with our young PECS communicators. Being able to find a “voice” has opened the doors to happier, more independent learners and many have since progressed to using verbal communication or a communication aid.


    Separated from Communication but very much informed and influenced by it, Literacy involves the teaching of reading and writing. Like maths, Literacy often has a slant towards transferable life skills, so that sight-reading includes functional words such as “toilet,” and targets are set in consultation with parents to ensure learning is tailored to literacy opportunities that may arise outside of the school day.


    Early writers are encouraged to explore the physical development of pencil skills and mark making, and given the sensory needs of many of our students, success has been found though a range of mark-making activities such as shaving foam and mud!

    Emergent writers are assessed carefully using school-wide levels that both teachers and support staff are aware of. Using phonics as well as word recognition, students at The Avenue have access to a range of writing opportunities, supported by the knowledgeable and differentiated planning of the teaching team

    A range of teaching strategies are used to support children in their writing, including Talk for Writing strategies, developed nationally by Pie Corbett and Julia Strong and currently being trialled and adapted for our students. Writing readiness is also learnt by our students, several of whom follow the program Handwriting Without Tears to develop their skills on from early mark making.


    From level P1(i) onwards, readers are carefully and constantly assessed using Reading Target Cards that enable all staff to see the students’ achievements and next steps. Reading at The Avenue School takes many forms and includes telling sensory stories through props, shared and guided reading as well as independent or paired exploration of books to increase interest and talking about books. From early on, readers are also encouraged to talk about books, in order to discuss the characters and understand the story, context and form of the written word.

    Reading is informed by the teaching of phonics which enables readers to decode the letters they see into the sounds they hear. A range of strategies and programs are used to support pupil’s development, and teaching staff select the most appropriate aspects of phonics programs including Read Write Inc. (developed by Ruth Miskin) and Jolly Phonics.