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The English curriculum at Co-op Academy Southfield provides the skills and opportunities for our young people to develop reading skills and to communicate as effectively as possible; ensuring that our young people are able to actively participate within their community and a wider society.

The skills and knowledge gained through our English curriculum are the building blocks for developing a range of competences needed for learning and living as they move into adulthood.

The curriculum covers Reading, Writing and Communication skills and is a sequenced, progressive curriculum that builds on prior knowledge and skills as the students move through school. Each year group works within a theme which links to the PSHE curriculum as well as a wider range of subjects.

Reading Rationale


  • For all students to develop and use pre-reading and reading skills to extract meaning from visual or tactile representation in order to enhance their communication and literacy skills. 
  • For all students to develop functional reading skills that enable them to communicate choices, interact with others and access both the school and the wider community. 
  • For all students to have access to a wide range of literature to enrich and broaden their experience.
  • For all students to enjoy reading for leisure - either being read to, sharing a book with an adult or choosing and reading a book independently. 

Pre-reading skills

Developing students 'pre-reading' skills is an essential part of the English curriculum, and extends to the rest of the Southfield curriculum. Pre-reading skills focus on teaching children to tune into sounds, remembering them and gradually learning to name them.  This is done in lots of different ways, e.g. rhymes, sound-based games, e.g. sound lotto or exploring the sounds different instruments make. At Southfield pre-reading skills include activities that promote the development of communication, play and thinking skills. 

  • Opportunities to develop communication skills at all levels from pre-intentional communication, through learning to anticipate, share joint attention, make choices and to join in with imaginative activities within subjects such as performing arts.
  • Listening attention skills that start with developing awareness of environmental sounds such as birds and a car passing and including the sound of familiar voices.
  • Developing visual attention skills such as looking at light sources, making choices from photos and pictures, progressing to identifying elements within a picture, commenting and labelling pictures, linking real things with a symbol and symbol matching.
  • An appreciation of the sounds and the patterns of language through songs and rhymes.  An enjoyment of books and stories through positive and exciting encounters with printed media, including access to books from a variety of genres and including non-fiction texts.  
  • An understanding of single words through the consistent and systematic use of objects of reference, photographs and symbols. For all students this will begin with learning the names of objects, people, places and actions that a student needs to acquire in order to make sense of the world and influence events.  
  • The development of an increasing vocabulary by using an individual student’s preferred symbolic representation and with the aim of supporting all areas of the curriculum.


Phonics is taught using the Read, Write Inc programme. This programme teaches phonics in a systematic, synthetic way. RWInc promotes speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending skills.

A typical phonics session follows a set structure: 

  • Revisit and Review (Speed Sounds) -previously taught phonemes
  • Teach (a new phoneme / special friends - 2 letters but 1 sound) 
  • Practise and Apply.

Students typically revisit the same phonemes and graphemes many times so they become embedded.  At Southfield, we understand that to progress in reading, students need to read with fluency and accuracy, otherwise their working memory will be overloaded and will impact on their ability to derive meaning from the text.  Our students need to become automatic in their recognition of phonemes so that they can decode words at speed and accurately. As part of the RWInc programme, the children are introduced to words which do not follow phonetic patterns and so must be learnt individually.

Why did we pick RWInc?

  • Lessons are well-paced, engaging and motivating
  • Assessment matches the steps, so we can recognise and celebrate progress students make
  • Resources can be adapted for pupils with a variety of SEND needs e.g. non-verbal, alternative communication systems, and HI/ VI
  • The company provide high quality ongoing training to support our teachers in developing their own knowledge and skills

Stories and literature:

We also know that it is important for all students to develop a love of stories, books and reading. Stories are a key component of English lessons, and are pre-selected. The planning of these books ensures that a range of authors and concepts are used over the year and key stages, to avoid repetition. This also ensures that students experience a wide range of high-quality texts to build their cultural capital.  These stories act as a hook to English language outcomes and the wider curriculum.

Sensory stories are used to support learning in some Southfield classes, and help the narrative come to life using a mixture of text and complimentary sensory experiences. Through the use of sensory stories that are repeated over time, it is possible for students within our PMLD cohort to begin to anticipate the order of events in the story, respond consistently to the stimuli and to show enjoyment during the story sessions. It is intended that one story is the focus for a half term which is delivered consistently by the staff team. It is expected that there are sufficient resources provided so that the children can have the opportunity to explore and interact with the sensory item without waiting for extended periods of time for their turn. It is appreciated that some resources will need to be shared to allow the children to develop anticipation and turn taking skills.

Some classrooms have transformed a physical space in the classroom to create a conducive, lively and inviting space for reading. Reading corners contain a range of reading material and formats appropriate to the interests of the students.  

To make our reading curriculum inclusive to all students, we are guided by the following definition of reading: 

“reading may be interpreted as any activity that leads to the derivation of meanings from visual or tactile representation”

This definition allows us to include the use of objects of reference, photographs and symbols as well as formal systems such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), as reading. These may be accessed visually, orally or through touch and through these resources children learn that one thing can represent something else. 


Year 7 – All About Me

Who am I? 

My Home 

My Local Community

Year 8 – My Body Can

What Can I Do? 

What do I need?    

What can I change?

Year 9 – Voices and Choices

I Have a Voice

I Have Great Ideas    

I’m Ready

Year 10 – Risky Business: Managing risk in different places

Safety first    

My responsibilities  

Healthy habits

Year 11 – Bradford, Britain & Beyond

The Wider Community    

My Country    

The World about me

Year 12 – Ambitions and Aspirations

Investigating Employability     

Investigating health and wellbeing services    

Team communication

Year 13 – Entering Adulthood

Planning for Employability/ Next Steps    

Planning for positive health and wellbeing in adulthood    

Leadership skills in the community

Year 14 – Life After Southfield

Accessing Employability/ Next Steps    

Accessing health and wellbeing services independently    

Making a positive contribution to the wider community




Alongside the English curriculum we have also introduced the ‘Read, Write, Inc.’ phonics programme in Key stage 3. For this, all students are assessed and placed into sets for targeted learning.   


Students in Southfield sixth form will work towards an NCFE Entry level Functional Skills qualification. There are 3 levels so that students can progress through. Each qualification is based on assessments in reading, writing and speaking & listening/communication.