#WAAW World Autism Acceptance Week 2024 ‘Study links reading comprehension challenges in autistic children to specific early and pre-reading skill gaps’

Many children with autism struggle with reading comprehension abilities throughout their school years.

In language development, narrative skills are a pre-reading skill, such as retelling the events of a story in order and understanding how the parts of a story work together. Inference skills develop early in reading and include the ability to link the ideas in two sentences together.

For children with autism, challenges with these two early skills were linked strongly with reading comprehension challenges as they got older. (Grimm, McIntrye and Mundy, 2020)

The Reading Framework Report published by the Department of Education in July 2023 emphasises the value of reading comprehension in supporting SEN pupils. Their suggestions for mainstream classroom teaching adaptions include group or peer reading, utilising audio, visual aids such as picture books, graphic organisers, flow charts and diagrams; multi-sensory stimulation of several senses to help convey meaning and dedicating enough time for reading for pleasure at school and at home.

Tips and ideas to support children with autism who are non-verbal: Teaching children with nonverbal autism to read | Autism Speaks

#WorldBookDay2024

World Book Day, Thursday March 7th, is about celebrating books and reading all year round.The best way you can support your child’s reading is by encouraging a love of reading, and spending time looking through books, talking about the pictures and story, and reading together each day

Children with SEND needs lots of repetition and over-
learning of reading skills, both at school and at home.
Reading is about much more than getting your child to read to you, it is
just as beneficial for you to read to them, particularly
early on.

Special Educational Needs in the Mainstream Classroom-EEF recommendations (2020)

Essential reading for educators-‘This report presents five recommendations for mainstream primary and secondary schools seeking to improve their provision for pupils with SEND. Some of the recommendations included here will also be helpful for pupils in special schools.’
Recommendation 1 Create a positive and supportive environment for all pupils,
without exception. Recommendation 2 Build an ongoing, holistic understanding of your pupils and
their needs. Recommendation 3 Ensure all pupils have access to high quality teaching.
Recommendation 4 Complement high quality teaching with carefully selected
small-group and one-to-one interventions. Recommendation 5 Work effectively with teaching assistants.

Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools | EEF (educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk)

Download the poster summary here-Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools—Recommendations (d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net)

Educating your Child at Home- Key Stage 3/4 The Basics

Josie worked as a Careers Advisor and librarian before starting the Home Ed Life blog. Her website is full of current advice, unpicks the legal requirements and points you in the direction of free resources to teach the way you want to, enrich your child’s learning but also prepare them for statutory examinations.

Homeschool Life Archives (homeedlife.co.uk)

Becoming Word Aware at Osmani Primary School

Linda Hall and Tracey Grant from the Language, Literacy and Communication Team led training on Word Aware, a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children. Focused on whole class learning, the resource is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language, but it will extend the word learning of all students.

Practical, inspiring and fun ideas were explored that can be easily applied by busy classroom practitioners to develop both spoken and written vocabulary.

Remi Atoyebi (Headteacher), Helen Vail and Tracey Grant (Language, Literacy and Communication Team Learning Advisory Service Advisory teacher for inclusion).

Contact linda.hall@towerhamlets.gov.uk for further information if you are interested in booking this training for your school.

Educating your child at home

Climate change and Environmental Science

Enjoy a light-hearted illustrated children’s book about climate change and caring for our animals that is perfect for inspiring the next Greta Thunberg or David Attenborough.

Listen to the author read it aloud- https://youtu.be/ZEn-6ZiAUNM

Climate Change resources

Climate change resources for schools | WWF

Climate Change for Kids – Science Experiments for Kids (science-sparks.com)

17 Weather Science Projects and Lessons | Science Buddies Blog

Not SATisfactory-How the KS2 reading test fails working-class children

‘The 2023 analysis of Key Stage 2 SATs scores showed a correlation between levels of affluence and success on the tests. Schools in poorer areas did less well – an ongoing trend.This year, teachers and parents voiced concerns regarding the perceived unfairness and difficulty of the KS2 Reading test. These concerns centre on the length of the texts used, but some pointed out that the content reflected middle class experiences and language. 

If the desire is to continue with an end-of-key stage reading test then greater thought needs to be given to the content of the texts used. One option would be to provide Year 6 teachers with a theme at the start of the academic year which will eventually be used in the SAT. This would create a more universal knowledge base, and also mitigate against teaching to the test to some extent. 

Alternatively, topics should be chosen which a greater number of children are likely to have knowledge about. Over a million children in the last year have been supported by food banks. Perhaps texts about visiting food banks might reveal more about children’s actual reading ability than texts about visiting caves in Derbyshire.’

Primary Matters Autumn 2021 (nate.org.uk),Dr Wayne Tennent- Senior Lecturer at Brunel University, London, England.

Classroom Strategies to Support Pupils with Literacy KS2

Great learning at Arnhem Wharf Primary School led by LLC advisors Alison Haines and Tracey Grant. Staff delved into current theory and innovative practice leading to classroom success!

See Dyslexia Differently- video from BDA

Click the image  above to see this short YouTube video from the British Dyslexia Association. It explores the possible difficulties and strengths of young people with dyslexia. It is three minutes long.

The video could be used pupils, parents, teachers and teaching assistants.

Dyslexia Awareness Week is:

October 4th-8th October 2021

Using Busy Things to develop phonological awareness skills

Using Busy Things to develop phonological awareness skills

Almost all schools now offer a literacy curriculum based on systematic synthetic phonics which most children respond really well to. But, there is a small group of pupils that don’t make the progress that we expect.

The building blocks to good phonic skills include really strong phonological awareness skills (the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in spoken language e.g. syllables, rhyme etc.) and phoneme awareness  (manipulating individual sounds).  Research shows that the majority of pupils that go on to struggle with spelling, reading and writing have a relative difficulty with their phoneme awareness and other phonological skills.  This group need extra time and attention.

Early Years settings are brilliant at developing phonological awareness skills, but as children move up into Key Stage 1 and beyond, it becomes harder for class teachers to find time to spend time on this.

One useful resource, available to all schools with access to the London Grid for Learning is Busy Things.  We found their phonic games very helpful when supporting children during lockdown, as they develop phonological awareness as well as phonics.

They updated a lot of the materials in May 2021.  We like the way you can customize the games to concentrate on specific grapheme phoneme correspondences.

Games

Our pupils loved the games. There are games to support rhyming skills such as Topple the Tower and Robert Robot:

As well as games like Feed the Monster and Build the Word which focus on oral blending and segmenting:

The software allows you to choose which scheme you want to follow, as well as your regional accent preference (north or south of England):

Once pupils are confident at using the games online, you can also produce pdf’s of specific patterns to reinforce areas that they are working on. This was useful to set as targeted homework.

Busy things does not replace the work we need to do to help strengthen phonological awareness skills but it is a really useful tool. Children can independently use the game on laptops during class reading time or other pockets of the school day.

Teachers can set up class profiles and monitor how their pupils are doing.

For more information, there are youtube videos on how to get started, as well as tutorials online. Alternatively, do contact us for more information. While not experts,  we are  happy to share what we have learnt!

Tower Hamlets Language, Literacy and Communication Team

September 2021