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Cherry Oak School

Working Together for Success

School Logo

Cherry Oak School

Working Together for Success



Our Approach to Reading


At Cherry Oak, we aim to make all of our pupils ‘readers’.   We aim to ensure a balanced mix of approaches to reading so that our pupils achieve the skills required, a positive attitude, confidence as well as interest and a life-long love of literature, regardless of their starting points.


We teach English in multiple connected strands using a combination of approaches – Attention Autism (Explorers) and Read, Write, Inc. (Connectors).   Communication is timetabled and taught as a discrete subject.


At Cherry Oak we see English and Communication as core subjects across the curriculum. Without them our pupils' access to wider communication areas would be limited further.   Social engagement will only become a reality for our pupils if they develop their communication and reading & writing skills.


Cherry Oak’s Reading approach consist of two dimensions:

  • Reading Skills (Reading for information & learning how to read - Attention Autism & Read, Write, Inc.)
  • Reading for pleasure (enjoying reading, being read to, listening to audio books, Sensory stories, Talk4Writing approach)


We believe it is essential that both dimensions are focused on because ultimately, the book you read for pleasure needs to be introduced, motivating and inspiring for pupils to engage with and be able to be as independent a reader as possible, in the future.


Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words.  Underpinning both, is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words.  This is why phonics is emphasised throughout the early stages of reading.


In the later stages we make sure good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world.   Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher and support staff, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.


All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.


Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday communication.


Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.


Early Readers

For pupils working on the Early Years and Explorers curriculum pathway we focus on developing their early speaking and listening skills as a prerequisite to phonics work:


Our pupils are encouraged to:

  • Listen to, recognise and recall sounds around them i.e. listening to environmental sounds, learning sounds through music and encouraging them to communicate about what they hear, see and do using their preferred method of communication.

  • Engage in Intensive Interaction (back & forth communication) where pupils learn to read body language and facial expressions (Attention Autism Pre-Stage 1)

  • Enjoy sensory stories and opportunities to engage in play writing and reading using role play.

  • Engage with enthusiastic staff to share books, making curriculum links through literature.

  • Access a well-stocked library with a wide range of high-quality texts.

  • Access a range of books in the classroom which pupils are able to select themselves i.e. books shelves or book boxes in low arousal classrooms.

  • Access computer programmes to support visual and spatial awareness, core vocabulary recognition and phonic awareness.

  • Gain exposure to the single letters sounds within Set 1 of the Read Write Inc. programme through our adapted Attention Autism programme.

  • Access new vocabulary within a language rich environment.



Attention Autism at Cherry Oak

Attention Autism aims to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities. The primary objective is that the sessions are fun and “offer an irresistible invitation to learn”.


Aims of Attention Autism at Cherry Oak (Intent):

  • To improve focus, share and shift attention.

  • To develop shared enjoyment in group activities.

  • To increase attention in adult-led activities.

  • To encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting.

  • To increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting.

  • To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary.

  • To expose pupils to the single letter sounds in Set 1 of the RWI Programme.

  • To build connections with peers to establish common experiences where communication, social interaction and relationships flourish.

  • To have fun.



Read Write Inc. Phonics

Cherry Oak has invested heavily in the Read, Write, Inc. Reading Programme for pupils who have been assessed as ready to access the content.  Pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly.   They progress onto Read Write Inc. Literacy and Language and Read Write Inc. Spelling once they can read with accuracy and speed.


The rationale for our choice of RWI is that it offers the routine and structure that our pupils often rely on to enable them to make sense of the world.


In Read Write Inc. Phonics, pupils:

∙   Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills

∙   Read common exception words on sight

∙   Understand what they read

∙   Read aloud with fluency and expression

∙   Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar

∙   Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words

∙   Acquire good handwriting.


In addition, we teach pupils to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.


We group pupils according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.


The pupils learn sounds and the letters or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words.


We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.  Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.


Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that pupils quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. We encourage them to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write independently.


Pupils write at the level of their spelling knowledge. The quality of the vocabulary they use in their writing reflects the language they have heard in the books the teacher has read to them; they have also discussed what the words mean.


Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible and move on to the Literacy and Language level.  The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level using the Read Write Inc. Comprehension and RWI Spelling programmes which act as a bridge to the National Curriculum programme of study.   



Read Write Inc. Literacy and Language (Comprehension & Spelling)

In Read Write Inc. Literacy and Language pupils:

∙  Develop a deep understanding of what they read: complete texts by leading authors are introduced using a three-step approach

∙  Learn grammar in context allowing pupils to use it with understanding: grammar banks are provided to support teacher knowledge

∙   Learn to articulate their thoughts and ideas clearly to one another: they learn how to present and debate; to reason and justify their answers

∙   Learn to write confidently by following our highly supportive three step approach, building upon the story or non-fiction text they have studied


This integrates reading, writing, thinking, and spoken language in all activities, to ensure the daily development of children’s comprehension and wider literacy skills.


  • At the heart of Literacy and Language is the enjoyment of and engagement with a variety of texts. Pupils are encouraged to take their own meaning from each text, becoming independent and critical thinkers.

  • Comprehension activities are designed to help children to infer, summarise, question, clarify, predict and argue a point of view. The children also make connections between texts and their own experiences.

  • Pupils are taught the importance of using grammar correctly, so they can communicate clearly and convey their meaning effectively.

  • Comprehensive guidance for teachers, supported by engaging Software, Pupils’ Book and Homework Book activities allows grammar to be taught explicitly, consolidated, practised and taught implicitly through the reading activities.

  • All grammar is taught within the context of the texts being studied to ensure it is meaningful for children.

  • Pupils are taught to articulate their thoughts and ideas out loud and to communicate what they know and understand.


Pupils answer every question with a partner, comment on each other’s ideas, clarify each other’s thinking, and build upon each other’s thoughts and ideas. The teacher asks questions to take their thinking further and clears up any misconceptions. Partner discussion helps teachers assess what and how pupils are learning throughout the lesson.


Teachers also read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils. Pupils are encouraged to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.


Link to Ruth Miskin Home Page (RWI) - 


Home Reading

All pupils take a “Reading for Pleasure” book home each week. 


For those pupils not yet accessing the RWI Programmes, “Reading for Pleasure” books are chosen by the pupils or chosen for them by familiar adults, where appropriate. 


Pupils who are accessing the RWI Programmes, take a “Reading for Pleasure” book, based on their own choices and interests, and also take a RWI levelled reading book which is appropriate to their current reading ability.


Parents are requested to support their child by encouraging them to read (where appropriate) or read to them.


Books travel back and forth between home and school on a daily basis so that pupils get multiple opportunities to “read” and enjoy their choice of books.   Parents are encouraged to write in the pupils’ Reading Record books regularly.


All books are changed on a weekly basis and this is recorded on the Cherry Oak Reading Tracker.   The tracker shows whether the “Reading for pleasure” books and the RWI levelled books have been changed, it highlights when parents have written in the pupils reading records and also highlights when pupils have accessed the Oxford Reading Buddy online reading platform.