All Different, All Valued, All Equal

Communication Strand

What is Communication at Oakfield Park?

Communication is an umbrella term which covers a multitude of methods of passing information between people.  At Oakfield Park, we work on the skills and development of what most people see as Communication: Reading, Writing and Spoken Word, but Communication means so much more!  It ranges from fleeting interaction through to using complex text and speech.

Here are some of the areas we work on:

·       Fundamentals of Communication – the pre-language skills we need to communicate.  We use strategies such as Attention Autism

·       Intensive Interaction – tapping in to any behavioural signs of communication

·       Objects of Reference – using the sight, sound, smell, feel of and object to represent something

·       Photographs – understanding meaning from images

·       Symbols – picture representations. This may be in communication books or apps or on VOCAs (Voice Output Communication Aids) and can range from one large coloured symbol through to complicated systems such as full PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) books

·       Creating functional ‘sentences’ – we use symbols and core language to help students learn to request, protest, label and describe, comment, direct, ask and answer questions, express feelings and opinions and engage in social activities

·       Learning to read and write – we use the Government Approved phonics scheme Sounds-Write for appropriate students

·       Spoken Word – We help students use speech or Sign Supported English to communicate.  We have students with individual needs such as using BSL or Eye-Gaze technology and we work with their system to develop their communication.


In our whole group teaching, staff use Total Communication, so they use multiple methods of communication in lessons so that everyone can access learning.  They speak using clear language but also support understanding by using visual language - Sign Supported English, objects of reference, photographs, symbols and written word as appropriate. 

To help our staff get the most from our young people, Speech and Language Therapists give advice and support.


Communication Coverage

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Communication Strand Policy


How do we record progress in communication?

  • Phonics
    • We have Sounds Write phonics scheme in school.
    • 5 staff are trained to deliver this programme to specific identified students where appropriate. 
    • All staff have completed basic sounds (phonic) CPD
  • Signing  

    • Signing is used to both provide an expressive means of communicating and to aid understanding in addition to spoken language.  Many of our students need visual support to understand what they are hearing so staff routinely use signs to support what they say.  We also have some students who are deaf.
    • The signs used in Signed Supported English with all our students are British Sign Language (BSL) signs and are also available as a wordlist in ‘Communicate: In Print 3’. 
    • Staff have regular training in using BSL sign vocabulary as part of Total Communication and are enthusiastic signers
    • Please click to see the videos below of Oakfield Parks 50 Key Word Signs which are regularly used with all our students