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Individual learning towards an independent life


At The Wherry school we aim to promote reading for pleasure.  The school has a library that is accessible to all year groups as well as a smaller library in the Primary school.  A love of reading is promoted through a range of activities that encourage children to read and engage with a range of high quality texts these include;

  • whole class reading,
  • individual reading schemes as well as time to read a text of their choice,
  • ERIC comprehension activities,
  • physical literacy and celebration of key dates such as Roald Dahl day and World Book day.

Reading and English Teaching and English Skills Across the Curriculum: 

The Wherry School aims to foster a love of reading by providing pupils with the opportunity to read and engage with high quality texts across the curriculum, these are available in the school libraries and staff read to children regularly to allow the children to be immersed in word and language rich environment. 

The teaching of Phonics and Reading is a vital skill for our Autistic learners.  At the Wherry School we know that the development of language is crucial to all children’s success across the curriculum. We understand the effects a core deficit can have on social and communication skills and how this can impact our learners’ ability to understand the world. 

All pupils are taught the skills required to be competent communicators, readers and writers this is developed alongside support from the school based Speech and Language therapist. 


The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils: 

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding 
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information 
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language 
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage 
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences 
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas 
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate 

At the Wherry School our aims are for all children to develop a love of Literacy and to be able to communicate clearly and confidently. Our core aim is to provide pupils with the skills to achieve functional Literacy skills and, where appropriate, the qualifications required to be independent in the adult world. 

INTENT Reading 

Although some readers with Autism Spectrum Disorders can appear to be very proficient readers on more detailed assessment pupils who can read with a high level of accuracy may find it difficult , when questioned, to comprehend or summarise what they have read (Hyperlexia). 

To enable our pupils to develop into fluent and reflective readers we aim for all children to read widely across a range of subjects, developing their ability to explain their understanding of materials which they have read. 

A phonics assessment is completed for each primary child on entry to the Wherry, with phonics taught in regular sessions through Key Stage 1 via the Letters and Sounds programme to enable pupils to become fluent readers. 


  • Throughout the school Literacy is taught daily. English lessons and focussed activities provide a range of opportunities to develop reading, writing and speaking and listening skills for different purposes. 
  • In Primary Daily phonics and SPAG lessons aim to ensure that pupils can decode and blend words to support the development of both reading and writing. English lessons in Primary are based around aspects of the Talk for Writing approach, with teachers using high quality texts to facilitate discussion and writing. 
  • Phonics are taught to all ks1 children via the letters and sounds programme and continued through selected intervention for pupils who require support in KS2. 
  • We recognise that many pupils with a diagnosis of Autism do not learn to read using a synthetic phonics approach, where sounds are taught in isolation – therefore the teaching of reading and phonic development is enhanced through personalised learning programmes where pupils are given opportunities to play games with sounds, listen to sounds and use a variety of support materials and IT based provision. Pupils can then use this knowledge to ‘de -code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to be a confident, independent reader. 
  • This practise is built on further across the school as pupils explore more complex letter patterns, prefixes and suffixes through daily SPAG lessons. In UKS2 pupils are encouraged to focus on their own spellings, and taught how to make use of word banks or dictionaries to support this. 
  • This approach is supported by weaving aspects of ‘Lis n Tell ’from Attention Autism to promote active learning. 
  • Teachers use a range of published reading schemes to structure the development of pupils reading skills and are colour coded in levels with different styles of books, fiction and non- fiction in each level. These levels support individual reading development until pupils are sufficiently fluent and independent to choose their own reading books. 
  • Through guided reading sessions pupils develop their ability to explain their understanding of books and other reading materials. 
  • Pupils are encouraged to discuss their ideas in order to make sense of their learning. Members of staff will share high quality texts on a daily basis to encourage pupils to read for enjoyment and foster a love of reading. 
  • Children have further opportunities to explore themes from stories shared with them through the use of the immersion room which is changed regularly. 
  • Each lesson will begin with an aspect of ERIC comprehension as a starter with focussed questions. These are designed to develop the skills of retrieval, interpretation and the ability to comment on an author’s choice of vocabulary or style; enabling pupils to expand their vocabulary and deepen their understanding of the text. 

Reading – and its role to support writing (Talk for Writing)

  • In the Primary phase, children are encouraged to retell familiar fiction and non-fiction books using Talk for Writing as prompts. 

Reading in the Secondary Phase:

Throughout the secondary phase, English and or literacy is taught daily.

Learners with Autism Spectrum disorders may feel anxious when asked to contribute to a group situation, prompting will need an approach that maintains an awareness of these difficulties. Students are encouraged to engage with the different areas of oracy: narrative, discursive and imaginative interaction. 

The use of literary texts and drama situations offer opportunities for students to empathise with others and their situations successfully.

To facilitate students’ successful engagement in such activities, members of staff ensure all verbal information is simple, clear and unambiguous by using short phrases and repeating if necessary. For some pupils written or verbal clues may be used to reinforce verbal instructions. 


Pupils develop their ability to explain their understanding of books and other reading materials. Pupils are encouraged to discuss their ideas in order to make sense of their learning and share their reading experiences with other students. 

Members of staff will share high quality texts with students in English and literacy lessons to encourage students to read for enjoyment and foster a love of reading. Some autistic learners may have insecure phonics development in their reading history and will be offered intervention sessions to facilitate their reading development. These sessions can include Nessy to which the school subscribes for such intervention sessions.


The school does not currently have any pupils in the EYFS. Should this change, children’s achievements will be on-going and will be assessed against the Early Learning Goals. 

  • In KS1, KS2 and KS3, teachers continually make judgements about the children’s understanding in relation to age related expectations as set out in the curriculum. Judgements against each objective are recorded for each pupil on the school’s electronic monitoring system, Target Tracker. 
  • GL assessments are completed at the end of each academic year for Reading, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.
  • SLT meet with class teachers termly to review pupil progress. 
  • Statutory assessments take place at the end of Year 2 and Year 6. 
  • The School GCSE offer includes assessments in English Language and English Literature – see The Wherry School GCSE offer


All teachers are responsible for monitoring standards but the subject co-ordinator, under the direction of the Head of Phase, who takes the lead in this. 

Monitoring activities are planned across the year. In summary these are: 

  • Monitoring of class teachers’ medium term plans for English by the Literacy Coordinators and Head Teacher. Individual teacher feedback provided by the Co-ordinators. 
  • Monitoring of teaching and learning taking the form of lesson observations, learning walks, book scrutinies and pupil interviews. 
  • Subject co-ordinators and Head of Primary to monitor assessment data
  • Head of Primary monitors the annual reports to parents 
  • Reporting of standards is undertaken by the Head of Primary with the Principal to the Trustees via the Teaching and Learning Committee


The Development of Reading skills and the love of books and language contributes to our pupils SMSC development through: 

  • Developing confidence and expertise in language, which is an important aspect of individual and social identity. 
  • Enabling pupils to understand and engage with the feelings and values embodied in high quality poetry, fiction, drama, film and television.
  • Developing pupils’ awareness of moral and social issues in fiction, journalism, magazines, radio, television and film; Reading can open up a world to our children beyond that of their own observations and experiences – including considering local, national and global areas of concern.  
  • The development of understanding of living in Britain, developing an understanding of diversity, gender issues, issues around race and faith and using books to challenge their own perceptions and thinking.
  • Helping pupils to understand how language changes over time, the influences on spoken and written language and social attitudes to the use of language. 
  • Using lesson activities such as discussion and conscience alley to explore dilemmas and moral stories.