Communication and Language

Communication and Language threads through everything that we do at Oakwood. It is an essential skills in supporting our learners to express themselves, and prepare them for the future. Under this quarter of the curriculum, we cover three main areas: 


For more information, please see our reading page

Communication and Interaction 

There are many reasons why we communicate: to develop friendships and relationships; learn; interact; inform; ask questions; express emotions or moods; obtain reassurance; complain; express likes, dislikes, pain, discomfort; apologise; tell stories etc.  

 "A range of communication tools are used by all classroom-based staff and this ensures that all pupils are able to participate fully in lessons." Ofsted 2018

There are many ways in which we can communicate with the world around us  many ways and modes in which we communicate with the world around us:





At Oakwood we strive to ensure that every child has a means of expressing themselves and we look to new ways in which our children can interact with the world around us.  We work hard to plan engaging, real life experiences to give our children the desire and motivation to interact.  We ensure that all adults in school are the best communication partners for our children; knowing each individual child and giving them the time to express themselves in their preferred style.


Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate.  It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people communicate

We use Makaton signs and symbols in schools as one way to help our children communicate.  Signs and symbols are used at the same time as speaking.


PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. It is an alternative communication system to teach functional communication skills with an initial focus on spontaneous communication.

Children with learning difficulties and autism, find learning easier when it is done visually. In PECS the child will be able to initiate communication by handing a picture or photo related to what he or she is thinking of e.g. a picture of a cup for drink.

Intensive Interaction

Intensive Interaction is an approach to teaching the fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and children who have ASD or who are still at an early stage of communication development.

The development of Intensive Interaction activities was partly based on careful study and analyses of how teaching and learning takes place in the early interactions between a parent and infant. The interactions and the techniques and principles to the approach of Intensive Interaction share similar key elements.

Aided Language Displays


An Aided Language Display (ALD) is a display of symbols on a single page that relate to a specific activity.  

The number of symbols on the page is dependent on the individual's needs.  ALD's enable the learner to make requests, ask questions and comment on an activity.  The use of the ALD's is modelled by the adult using speech.  

The children's use of the ALD can begin with single words and develop into making longer requests and comments and are a useful tool to support our children to communicate in a functional way, within various activities throughout the day.


BIGmack’s are used to communicate recorded speech, music or any sound.  Repeated phrases from a story or song can be played back simply by pressing the large activation surface to hear the sound.  They can also be connected to a toy or appliance for additional motivation.

Objects of Reference

OoR are items chosen because of their multi-sensory properties or their link with the activity.  The OoR are relevant to the individual and may be a miniature version of the real object.  Objects of Reference are used to aid memory (such as lists or timetables), aid understanding, enable anticipation of events and aid expression (such as using a cup to represent “I want a drink”).


Photographs are used for pupils who may be pre-verbal or have pre-intentional communication skills.  They are visually highly motivating and can be used to directly 1-1 match.  Photographs are also used to represent abstract toys or activities and people where no symbol is available.

On Body Signs

This is a language and communication system that consists of speech accompanied by the corresponding On Body signs. It has similar signs to Makaton. The signs are made on the child’s body to enhance meaningful communication. It is used with pupils who have visual, auditory or physical impairment and incorporates speech with touch and sound

Voice Output Communication Aid

These are easy to use  speech output devices. They are used as an introductory communication aid and also for curriculum enrichment. Voices and sounds can be recorded to enhance and accelerate learning. They are fun to use and very versatile.

Development of skills for writing


As with reading, writing requires an effective foundation of communication skills. Writing combines physical development and linguistic development.

We support our children to develop their fine and gross motor skills through a range of approaches such as;

Gross Motor

Fine Motor


As our children progress, they begin to use these linguistic and motor skills to record their ideas. This may incorporate communication aids and/or symbols but we use a range of strategies to build skill and confidence in our young writers.

Children build their understanding of syntax and word order using Colourful Semantics. This allows our children to build their understanding of how a sentence works and allows them to begin to create and share written ideas independently.

As our writers develop, they will continue to work on grammar, spelling and handwriting to begin to produce a range of text types inspired by their reading.