15 October 2021: 9 am – 12 pm

How to develop prerequisite and emergent reading skills for all learners including those with the most complex learning needs

Learning to read is well established as a key to education, but do we know enough about how it develops and how to support all our learners?  If learning to read defines our success, what does this mean for learners with more complex learning needs, for whom a traditional reading curriculum may not be accessible or appropriate? This course will provide you with the information required to help you to develop prerequisite and emergent reading skills for all learners, including those with the most complex learning needs, and build enjoyment, confidence and a love of reading for all learners!

NB: Updated to reflect the outcomes and implementation of the Reading Framework published in July 2021.


9.00 am Welcome & introduction

9.10 am Warm Up!

9.25 am Session 1: ‘Why teach reading and how do we do it?’ 

This session will help you develop an understanding that good literacy teaching is good for all children; that core and prerequisite skills need to be taught and the crucial role that this understanding plays in teaching our most complex learners. The session will also explore the importance of a literacy-rich environment in developing motivation and engagement and the role that we play in terms of high expectations.

9.45 am Breakout Room Chat Task

This will involve watching a video, which tells the story of Jonathan and his journey to becoming literate. Afterwards, we will discuss: How did the video make you feel?  Do you have any learners for whom their barrier to learning may not have been found?


10.00 am Session 2: Why children, and young people with SEN, have difficulty learning to read

This session will look at the four stages involved in reading: Input, integration, memory and output, and the issues learners experience with these stages due to impairments or disabilities. You will learn about developing a more inclusive reading curriculum, the foundations of reading, and developing prerequisite skills. The session also includes assessment, how to find out where to begin, and provides practical ideas and resources to create an inclusive reading environment.

10.25 am Practical Task

We will view a clip of an activity, followed by the questions:

What information did the learner need to input? How is this supported?

How did they support the learner to retain information through the memory?

How did they support learners to share this at the output stage?

What could you do to make this inclusive for all learners?

10.40 am COFFEE BREAK and mini online learning course

11.00 am Discussion of key points from online learning course

11.10 am Session 3: Developing core skills, word recognition and language comprehension

We will look at teaching word recognition, learning words by sight and phonics, and the importance of motivation and engagement. The session will also show you activities, ideas and resources to teach sight words to all learners. We also look at phonics teaching and how to begin, and the role of spiky learning profiles. Teaching language comprehension, the importance of language comprehension and ways in for all learners will also be covered, as well as activities, ideas and resources for all learners.

11.35 am Questions and Answers

Please add questions to Zoom chat, so that any unanswered live can be followed up after the session.

11.45 pm Reflective Practice Session

Delegates to list 3 things they will followup/action/share/ as a result of this course – can be put in Zoom chat or any resource of your choice.

11.55 am Plenary Session

A reminder about continuing CPD activities, future collaboration, reflective practice, further resources and contact details.

12 noon Thank you and close of session!

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for classroom practitioners from special schools and colleges, mainstream settings with specialist SEN provision and early years settings, who are working with pupils with autism and complex learning needs.



The following resources will be available in your account for one week after the course date: A digital recording of this event, any resources shared/signposted during the session and a transcript of Zoom chat.



If you wish to make a group booking for this course – we can do this quickly and easily for you! Please email a spreadsheet with the first name/surname/email addresses of the delegates you wish to book for. Email to lois@hirstwood.com. We will then create access to this course for your colleagues. A Purchase Order Number will secure your booking.



‘Yes it was fantastic! I am now very excited to get moving with our reading and literacy curriculums’

‘Lots of ideas for teaching, rationale about the development of our learns ability to read.’

‘It gave me a fresh perspective on how to engage all learners regarding literacy’

‘Clear description of progression of reading skills from the beginning.’

‘Yes! It is so nice to have a course relevant and not aimed at mainstream!’

Important information before you book


The ‘Book now!’ button will take you to a new page where you can book and pay for this course.  Please note: if you are booking for someone else, please create the account using their name and email address.  You will still be able to pay by credit card (even it has a different name/school name on it.)

Cost: £50 plus VAT per place

(£60 including VAT)