The Springfields Academy

Reach South Academy Trust

Our central mission is for Reach South pupils to aspire to achieve beyond the expectations that others place on them.

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English - Reading

"To build safe, independent lives for autistic young people through support, understanding and enablement".

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and is the foundation of all learning experiences. Our curriculum is planned so there is a clear progression of knowledge and skills that enables our pupils to become active readers who are motivated and engaged. We encourage everyone to read for pleasure, giving them access to a variety of genres and text types and immerse them in a language-rich environment that prepares them to be effective readers both in school and the community, promoting our ethos of safe and independent lives.

For pupils to have functional reading skills to:

  • Understand printed communication in its varied forms to enhance knowledge and understanding of the world around them
  • Read to access the curriculum successfully and achieve within it
  • To read printed communications through a range of mediums
  • To have reading skills to access knowledge throughout life


We are Hooked on Books!   

We have introduced a whole school approach to the teaching of reading and have aligned this with the teaching of writing using Jane Considine's 'Hooked on Books' approach.  We hope to establish clear links between reading and writing by overlapping several "lenses" enabling children to unpick an author's intended impact of vocabulary and sentences and then magpie for their own thoughts and initiatives. Hooked on Books provides a systematic approach to teaching reading skills across the school and is supported by the following aims:

📕  Book Talk - a whole class comprehension and a targeted  group approach.

📕 The Reading Rainbow - a fully comprehensive approach that targets reading competencies, covers the National Curriculum and develops understanding.

📕  Demonstration Reading - the art of modelling the internal thinking of a reader. This is to demonstrate how a reader thinks during the process of ‘reading for meaning’

📕  Demonstration Comprehension - clear, out loud thinking by the teacher whilst modelling answers to questions and showcasing 'thesaurus thinking' to ensure the most precise words are used

Across a fortnightly timetable, the pupils will participate in 5 Book Talk sessions and 5 knowledge and  skills-based lessons. In 'Book Talk' sessions, the children will experience reading in a range of different ways: reading by themselves, reading with a partner, reading as a whole class or listening to the adult model the reading. Throughout the lesson, the children explore high quality texts and use the 'Reading Rainbow' to read and respond to texts through different lenses from the three zones of reading: 


Together, the three zones of reading are designed to support the children to become confident readers.

  • The FANTASTIC zone supports the children to identify specific ideas that published authors use to enhance their writing. They represent nine lenses through which the children can discuss the texts that they are reading and the choices that authors make.
  • The STYLISTIC zone is made up of nine key ideas which help the children to demonstrate their understanding of the texts that they have read. They help them to retrieve information from the text, explain their understanding, summarise what they have read and justify their ideas and opinions.
  • The ANALYTIC zone are techniques that the children can use to really delve deeply into the texts that they have read, analysing the reasons behind authors’ choices. They allow the children to compare and contrast texts, identifying big themes as well as the fine details.

Within each of the reading zones, there are nine lenses which provide the children with reasons to read. As we understand the science of learning and the need to revisit and review concepts in order to embed them in the long-term memory, our curriculum planning ensures that these lenses and reasons to read are recapped and applied to a range of different texts and genres. 

Book Talk is key to developing an engaging reading culture for everyone that promotes oracy skills, reading fluency and confidence. Children collaborate in pairs or small groups using sentence stems and high-utility words to develop a Book Talk response. All of our high-quality texts are age-appropriate and carefully selected to suit the interests of our children. This ensures that all children are challenged and have the opportunity to experience the diverse and magical world that reading has to offer. 

During the different units, the children are exposed to a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts which they use to develop their reading, retrieval, sequencing and summarising, inference and prediction skills. They will also discuss the vocabulary that they encounter to help continue to build their banks of language.

The Reading Journey:

Early Reading Skills:

A child’s reading journey in Key Stage 1 begins with the development of the understanding that print (in all its forms) has permanence and meaning.

This is encouraged through the exploration of pictures, symbols, signs, letters and words throughout the environment and through discrete teaching. Readers are actively encouraged to communicate about what they can read in the world around them and discuss their interpretation of its meaning.

Readers are encouraged to join in with songs and rhymes to develop language and communication skills, this is further developed in daily story times and opportunities for individualised reading exploration including sequencing activities, role play and reading with others.

We recognise that many of our learners present with Executive Functioning needs and therefore we employ a range of autism enablement strategies to support our readers to organise their thoughts (e.g. scaffolding a sequence of events), plan their responses (e.g. accessing prior knowledge and making connections) and monitor their understanding (e.g. creating mental images, engaging in discussions and summarising)


All children have the opportunity to learn to read through a synthetic phonics approach.

The detailed and cumulative structure of this approach to learning to read builds on some of the strengths our learners with autism have who see the detail within the ‘whole’. We use the 'Read Write Inc Phonics' program for our learners who are 8 years old and below; our learners age 9 and above access the 'Read Write Inc Fresh Start' program. Teaching is targeted to each individuals level of challenge. All phonics sessions are taught through various multi-sensory formats providing our learners with a range of experiences to develop their phonetic awareness. There are frequent opportunities for ‘over learning’ concepts so that our learners experience them in a range of contexts to help scaffold the generalisation and transference of skills which some of our learners find more difficult in line with their diagnosis of autism.   


Children learn to spell using Jane Considine’s ‘The Spelling Book’. Jane Considine’s approach to teaching spelling focuses on children becoming ‘Spelling Detectives’ and to be interested in language; the history and the meaning of even the smallest unit of sounds. The approach is underpinned by three key principles:

  • Build a positive spelling culture, where children will read with ‘switched on’ brains
  • Finding and identifying phonemes and syllables within words
  • Seeking patterns in sounds, letters and shapes


Children learn spelling strategies through ‘The Spelling Rainbow’. Teachers teach children specific strategies through lenses. Spelling is explicitly taught. Children are encouraged to conduct investigations and test hypotheses focussed on spelling conventions. Furthermore, children are given opportunities to work in different ways, using a variety of resources to prove/disprove the hypotheses within a range of words. Spell It Out sessions explore phonemes and syllables in words and patterns within words/groups of words. Over a two-week period, children look for patterns and focussed phonemes across the curriculum. Tasks take a variety of forms with children working individually; in pairs and as a class. Learning from spelling sessions are consolidated and practised across all subjects, particularly in Reading and Writing.



Reading for meaning – teaching comprehension skills:

Comprehension of what a reader has read can be a difficult skill for our learners with autism to develop, especially for readers who are still developing ‘Theory of Mind’ and find it difficult to understand others’ point of view or perspective.

Some readers may present with elements of ‘Hyperlexia’ which is characterised by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced ability to decode/read words however comprehension of what has been read is significantly more difficult.

To enable our readers to comprehend what they have read we use the following strategies personalised to a reader’s level of comprehension:

Before reading we:

  • Allow the reader to access and build background knowledge
  • Present the reader with visual support in relation to the text
  • Pre-teach key vocabulary
  • Create mental image
  • Picture walk through the text

During reading:

  • Make connections
  • Make a visual representation of the story e.g. graphical organiser, story map

After reading:

  • Reciprocal questioning
  • Modelling how to generate and answer questions – presented visually
  • Summarise understanding
  • Story Recall Teaching students to create causal connections and causal chains – presented visually
  • Use the 5Ws to summarise: who, what, where, when, why

Reading opportunities:

Readers at Springfields have a variety of opportunities to read and enjoy a range of materials, fiction and non-fiction through books, newspapers, magazines, comics and a variety of electronic texts and audiobooks. Our text range reflects a modern, multi-cultural and equality focussed society.

Many of our learners have a special interest which is embraced as a motivator to encourage reading for pleasure through the reading material that most engages our learners.

Reading is planned daily throughout the academy both through discrete lessons, embedded throughout the curriculum and through additional personalised intervention as required. As learners progress through the academy, they will progress to reading whole texts at an appropriate level, for examples short stories, plays or novels.

Choosing a text - Special Interest Library

Our readers have access to a wide range of texts linked to a colour banded progression. Additionally, to encourage reading for pleasure pupil's can access our 'Special Interest Library' where the text categories to choose from are decided by pupil voice.

Reading scheme texts pupils read are closely linked to their phonics knowledge - the coloured banding of a pupils reading book directly relates to their Read Write Inc Phonics Steps. We provide a range of schemes linked to a colour banded progression to encourage our more reluctant readers to find 'the right text/scheme' for their needs and to provide all children with a breadth of texts to explore.

Our coloured banded library includes texts published by:

  • Read Write Inc
  • Rising Stars Reading Planet
  • Oxford Reading Tree
  • Pearson

Reading Assessment

Pupils' reading skills are regularly assessed for fluency and comprehension skills using the PM Benchmark Assessment. A coloured banding is allocated based on the assessment outcome. Pupils are given personalised reading targets in line with their coloured band that they work towards during individual and guided reading sessions.

Pupils' wider reading skills are targeted and assessed during guided reading sessions and reading across the curriculum. Progress is recorded three times a year in line with our 'pupil progress and assessment cycle'.

Pupils reading is assessed using the Springfields Reading Assessment Framework on our Earwig Assessment Platform. 

Reading at Home

We are aware that linked to a diagnosis of autism the 'fixed mindset' of some of our pupils view 'school work' as being 'for school only'. In this situation we are happy to discuss home reading options on a personalised level with families to establish an individualised approach. We do encourage reading at home for pleasure and offer a range of ways for pupils to enjoy reading at home such as:

  • taking home a reading book from our coloured scheme
  • taking home a book from our pupil voice driven 'special interest' library
  • access to online 'Read write Inc' texts on the Oxford Owl website 
  • access to the 'Nessy Reading and Spelling' program (online)

Impact Measures:

  • Feedback on reading learning tasks within the lesson
  • Teacher assessment against reading assessment frameworks. 
  • Progress towards end of year reading targets is evaluated through the pupil assessment and progress cycle 
  • The reading curriculum is evaluated through the termly curriculum review which is informed by:
    • Progress Frameworks. 
    • Progress towards EHCP outcomes 
    • Accreditation achieved 
    • Pupil progress and attainment cycle 
    • Pupil voice
    • Staff curriculum evaluation 
    • Parent voice 

Impact of the Reading Curriculum:

All Springfields pupils will leave the academy with functional reading skills to lead a safe independent life. This will be evident in all pupils achieving as a minimum the Entry Level 1 qualification in English; many will achieve higher level qualifications such as further Entry Levels, Functional Skills Qualifications and some may achieve GCSE English.