Development of skills for reading

At Oakwood, many of our children are developing these early interaction and communication based skills. It is vitally important that these foundation skills are established and embedded to form solid roots before moving on to subject specific learning. This will include immersion in sensory and developmentally appropriate storytelling and interaction experiences such as; sensory stories, tac-pac and attention autism.

When our children are ready to move on we use a range of reading and writing approaches to support their development.

Figure 1. Oakwood School progression of reading skills 

Figure 2. Associated programmes and approaches at each stage. 

Phonics/Whole Word Reading

For children who are ready to access a systematic synthetic phonics scheme, we an adapted form of Read, Write, Inc. Visuals from the scheme are used at earlier tiers of progression and a more formalised version of the scheme is used at the Phonics tier.

For some of our children, phonics may not be the key to successful reading. These children will be taught reading using a whole word approach.

Love of storytelling

Reading for pleasure is a vitally important skill to develop in our children. Books and reading can sometimes be challenging to access and so we need to instil a motivation and a love of stories to promote engagement. We do this through using special interests, modelling engagement in reading and using a variety of multi-sensory and multi-modal approaches to storytelling. This includes sensory stories, box books, filmed stories on our website and audiobooks.

Both our sites have engaging book spaces including book nooks and access to libraries, to encourage children to select their own books and make choices around reading. Classes have book nooks that are adapted to suit the needs of their children. These are safe spaces to explore a range of texts. Texts on offer here reflect our commitment to diverse story-telling and also offer non-fiction texts and poetry/rhyme. Stories in class will be shared in a range of ways, including sensory stories, songs and rhymes and interactive experiences. Stories may be shared as a class, small group or on a 1:1 basis.

For more information on our development of reading skills please see our Approaches to Reading document.



At Oakwood, we use the Word Aware approach to widen the vocabulary of our children in a targeted and context driven way. Class teams select key words each half term to work on that are relevant to their group. These words might be functional or topic linked. These words will then form a key focus for the class through a variety of fun and engaging strategies.