Return to Lower School


Heathlands recognises the importance of deaf pupils developing strong reading skills. This is an essential skills to access all other areas of learning and for life.  In order for this to happen effectively all developing readers need to be able to read with someone and discuss what they are reading regularly. In Lower School we aim for all pupils to read to an adult daily. Partnership with parents is therefore vital in helping pupils to succeed.

Reading scheme

In Reception, KS1 and lower KS2 Heathlands uses the Oxford Reading Tree scheme. This provides a systematic and structured approach for emerging and developing readers.

As pupils become more confident and independent readers they move to the Accelerated Reading scheme, reading from a wide range of texts banded according to difficulty. After reading each book the pupils take an on-line comprehension quiz which allows understanding to be assessed and individual progress tracked.

Parents can see their child’s progress on the Accelerated Reading Scheme through the “Home Connect” website. Login in details for this, specific to individual children are provided by class teachers.

Accelerated Reading Weblink


While for mainstream pupils phonics is the main approach for developing reading and spelling skills, the majority of the pupils at Heathlands are unable to access phonics through an auditory/ oral approach. A variety of methods are employed to support each pupil successfully develop reading skills on an individual basis. As part of this ‘toolkit’  Heathlands uses Visual Phonics by Hand , a visual approach to demonstrate letter sounds. This supports children’s development of both phonic skills and lip-reading awareness.

Reading with your child

Reading is one of the most valuable skills children can learn. Children who read at home with their families become better readers.

Shape coding at Heathlands.

The majority of pupils at Heathlands use BSL (British Sign Language) as their preferred or first language. When our pupils have established a strong language base for communication they then go on to learn English as a ‘second’ language. BSL and English have different grammatical structures and one of the ‘tools’ use to support the development of English structure (both spoken and written) is through ‘shape coding’. The system was designed by Susan Ebbels (a speech and language therapist), to teach grammatical structure allowing the parts of speech to be demonstrated in a visual way.

Contact your child’s teacher for more information on how shape coding is being used in your child’s class.