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Applebee Wood Community Specialist School

Respect, Belonging, Trust, Resilience, Aspiration



English is a core subject. It includes the development of language and literacy skills and the study of English literature. Since the English language is our principal means of communication, English is taught by all staff in all subjects, as well as in dedicated lessons. English therefore has a central place in the curriculum.



Our English curriculum intent is driven by the need to prepare our children for their educational journey, enabling them to be ready for life in a society in which they will thrive.


Through high quality teaching of Literacy, English and communication, our ambitious programmes of study for each pupil provide appropriate subject knowledge, relevant skills and understanding that progresses throughout each area of including, phonics, reading, writing and communication so that children can reach and exceed their potential.

 It will:

  • provide challenge for all
  • support them to push their own boundaries
  • encourage curiosity and a passion to learn
  • equip children with a diverse and rich vocabulary
  • provide a set of values to prepare them for life beyond our school
  • develop the behaviours learners need to succeed
  • motivate children by planning purposeful activities which allow them to share their learning with an authentic audience


In addition to this, it is our intent to ensure that our English curriculum goes beyond the experiences of the classroom to ensure that our children are exposed to the richest and most varied opportunities that we can provide.


In summary, the intent of our curriculum is to:

  • Cater for every child
  • Challenge for all
  • Prepare for future learning
  • Succeed




Language development

Language and communication skills are essential for ALL our pupils and we recognise that the skills developed in English promote learning across the curriculum. We aim for our pupils to be able to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and to communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally with others in a range of social situations, appropriate to their levels and needs.


We teach pupils the skills they need to communicate in ways relevant to their individual needs, developing their individual needs, developing their skills in communication, reading and writing. Cross-curricular themes have been developed to incorporate National Curriculum objectives whilst meeting the individual learning styles of our pupils.

Being able to communicate is not just talking. Alongside with getting your own message across, being able to listen, pay attention, interact, play and understand what’s being said are the fundamental building blacks of communication. Listening is an essential skill for communication and learning.


Everywhere we go there are different noises around us. Sometimes children need a bit of quiet time to help them tune into talking rather than the other noises going on around them. Adults need to show children the way – when we listen to children, they learn what to do in order to be good listeners.


Understanding is key to speaking and listening. Children need to understand what single words mean and when words are joined together into sentences, conversations and stories. This takes time and children go through phases where they ask lots of questions. This is a good thing as they are trying to find out how things work and understand the world around them.

Adults play an important role in answering the many questions children have and in checking out whether children understand. At Applebee Wood we promote an inclusive total communication approach.


Phonic development

Phonics also forms an important part of the literacy curriculum.

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes, or letter group).


Children are taught letter sounds first. This involves thinking about what sound a word starts with saying the sound out loud and then recognising how that sound is represented by a letter.  

The aim is for children to be able to see a letter and then say the sound it represents out loud. This is called decoding.


Children then need to go from saying the individual sounds of each letter, to being able to blend the sounds and say the whole word. This can be a big step for many children and takes time.

While children are learning to say the sounds of letters out loud, they will also begin to learn to write these letters (encoding). They will be taught where they need to start with each letter and how the letters need to be formed in relation to each other. Letter (or groups of letter) that represent phonemes are called graphemes.

Using the Twinkl Phonics Scheme in Primary and Fresh Start in Key Stage 3, phonics are delivered in discrete sessions where appropriate. The pupil’s phonics levels are monitored every term to ensure progress is on track and that sessions are relevant and targeted.


Reading development

At Applebee Wood, we believe that it is very important for pupils to develop a love of books and enthusiasm for developing their reading skills. 


Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in most other areas of the curriculum; therefore, we provide an environment with a balanced range of activities to help develop reading skills that include:   


  • enjoyment of songs, rhymes, poems and stories, alongside learning about and using the sound system of our alphabet (Phonics).
  • guided reading
  • regular independent reading
  • hearing books read aloud on a daily basis
  • selecting own choice of texts
  • reading in other subjects including ICT texts
  • DEAR


This multi-strategy approach to develop reading skills encourages the pupils to understand text on different levels. It helps them read with a deeper understanding from a wide range of different text types including fiction and non-fiction publications, as well as real life texts such as sign posts, labels, captions and lists.


Where appropriate, pupils have a reading book and a reading diary recording when they are heard reading.


Pupils have access to a wide range of literature in our fiction and non-fiction library also, through our DEAR library and library loan boxes to enrich and broaden their experiences. We enhance the curriculum through the use of visiting story tellers, library visit and opportunities to attend live performances.

Although we use a wide range of age appropriate reading materials our three main reading schemes are:   


  • Oxford Reading Tree   
  • Project X
  • Rapid Phonics


All teachers are responsible for hearing children read at least once per week, although this may be more frequent depending on need.


Writing development

At Applebee Wood we promote writing and look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils so that they see themselves as ‘writers’. Talk comes first!


Pupils are encouraged to express their ideas clearly so that they can put thoughts in order and discuss what they want to say. This ‘talk’ helps to develop a wide ranging vocabulary, so that pupils are able to express themselves in a clear and varied way, making their writing lively and interesting for the reader.


Pupils develop their writing firstly through play, talk and mark making. They then develop their writing skills, producing structured legible script using correct letter formation.  At this point emphasis will be placed on the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar, which will help to develop this structure and make the meaning of their writing clear to the reader.


We celebrate the endeavours and achievements of all our pupils and hope that they enjoy their learning. We aim to provide a happy learning environment which enables our pupils to grow in confidence and interact socially.



In English and “across the curriculum” at Applebee Wood, we teach pupils:

  • enjoy English and be motivated to learn
  • foster an interest in books, sensory stories and reading for pleasure
  • develop skills using: signing, symbols, ICT, objects, pictures and words
  • communicate effectively with others in a range of social situations and interact with their peers and adults in the world around them 
  • access an extensive, age-appropriate range of literary materials and experiences through writing for a variety of purposes
  • to develop confidence and competence within all areas of English – communication (speaking and listening), reading and writing
  • to understand the importance of English in everyday life and apply the skills they learn in a meaningful way
  • To read with understanding and independence, for pleasure and for learning.
  • To write appropriately in different styles for various purposes, both by hand and on the computer.
  • To use their literacy skills effectively in different contexts and situations.
  • To develop their imagination and creativity, through a variety of literary activities.



English is delivered at Applebee Wood as both a discrete subject and through a cross curricular approach. Discrete lessons will usually have a whole class beginning, some small group and individual work and finish with a plenary session to evaluate what has been learnt. In order to provide learners with experiences that are engaging, challenging and identifies opportunities for progression, we have adopted a curriculum structure with two broad levels of learning: semi-formal and formal. These levels are not defined by age but by need and achievement; learners may therefore move from one level to the next at any point in their school career. Each level covers skills, knowledge and understanding across a range of subjects. Lessons and teaching are personalised to match pupil’s individual needs. Where barriers to learning have been identified, learners will receive extra Literacy support through planned Intervention programmes and personalised learning in order to help them achieve their individual learning targets.


Semi-formal Students follow a semi formal approach to learning. It is an approach based on the learner becoming a literate communicator, an enquiring thinker as well as acquiring early learning skills. This approach encompasses the development of thinking skills, creative learning and movement and is designed to be developmentally appropriate. It enables all learners to take part in activities that are engaging, meaningful to them and provide relevant and challenging goals. It is a curriculum for students who learn best when learning is related to their own experiences. Some students may learn through structured play whilst others will learn more effectively through functional activities or through topic-based approaches.


Formal (Working within National Curriculum expectations) The formal curriculum is for learners who are working at National Curriculum expectations and builds upon and extends the knowledge, skills and understanding introduced in the semi-formal curriculum. Whilst the formal curriculum is highly structured, teaching and learning is often linked to practical activities and consolidated by repetition and reinforcement. Some of our older learners will still access specialist provision as part of their personalised provision. At key stages 4 and Post 16 they will follow personalised accreditation routes. Planning, learning and assessment is guided by the 2014 National Curriculum.


In English, the formal curriculum is designed to enable learners achieve their full potential in the key areas of:

  • spoken language
  • reading • writing
  • spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation.

Teaching and learning varies throughout the key stages, as outlined below;


EYFS Pupils follow a thematic based ‘Creative Curriculum’, incorporating the principles and development matters of the EYFS.


KS1/2 Dependent on learners’ cognitive processing capabilities (assessed using B Squared) determines whether a semi-formal or formal approach is used.

KS1/2 learners follow a thematic based ‘Creative Curriculum’ which works on a 3 year ‘rolling’ programme.


KS3 Dependent on learners’ cognitive processing capabilities (assessed using B Squared) determines whether a semi-formal or formal approach is used.

KS3 semi formal learners follow a thematic based ‘Creative Curriculum’ which works on a 3 year ‘rolling’ programme.

KS3 formal learners are taught discrete subjects and move around to specialist teachers.


KS4 Dependent on learners’ cognitive processing capabilities (assessed using B Squared) determines whether a semi-formal or formal approach is used.

Learners are grouped according to ability. If appropriate, learners will work towards accreditation which include Unit Award Certification, Entry Level accreditation through the Step up to English programme, Functional skills or GCSE English Language.




There is a clear assessment cycle within the school and progress is measured using formative and summative approaches. The assessment listed below inform planning and targets for personalised learning for each child on their Individual Support Plan:

  • Early Learning Goals (where applicable)
  • B Squared
  • Maths: (standardised test annually) 
  • English: IDL, reading development schemes, phonic development programmes, standardised test annually
  • Language: Talk Boost 
  • Observations
  • Social communication profile


Assessments are used to inform planning and formative assessment is ongoing.

Formal and summative recording of progress is completed each term.


Other means of evaluating progress is achieved through:

  • Learning walks SLT
  • Subject Leader Learning walks
  • Book or work scrutiny
  • Moderation
  • Discussion with the child
  • Child self-evaluation
  • IEP analysis


Summative data is recorded on the Education Health Care Plan which is reviewed annually; and it is also recorded on the school’s summative data system.



Summative data is shared with all stakeholders:

Children ( where applicable and appropriate),

Parents (on-going, through IEPs and at the Annual Review)

Staff ( Subject leaders analyse their own subject’s data)


The Local Authority