English Spoken Language

Valued – Inspired – Prepared

Westhaven School is a unique learning environment with high expectations for learners who experience barriers to learning for a range of reasons. We promote a calm environment that enables everyone to learn. The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values that shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent
  • confident communicators
  • respectful citizens
  • resilient learners
  • inquisitive thinkers

The Westhaven Way is our ethos and it underpins our daily approach to behaviour and learning.

We recognize that the ability to interpret the world and communicate effectively is a key feature of the English curriculum and the whole curriculum. We believe that learners should be equipped with the correct knowledge and vocabulary to engage in conversations. This may be aided with visual word maps/objects and pre-teaching vocabulary. We believe that learners should have the opportunity to practice the skills of both a speaker and a listener.  

The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values that shape our learners to be:


Safely Independent 
English is all around us and will unlock many areas in life. From accessing bills to enjoying a good book. Being able to interpret the written word/signs and symbols allows humans to communicate independently. 
Confident Communicators 
English helps individuals to express themselves in the most effective way. Your thoughts, feelings, and knowledge should be passed on in a most desirable manner and effective communication with English helps you.
Respectful Citizen
English and reading expose us to many different cultures and ways of life which we begin to understand through discussion. The spoken word allows us to communicate and this is the most important element of human connection. Therefore promoting citizenship and respect.

Inquisitive Thinker
Showing curiosity and asking questions is an essential part of learning and life. Acquiring new knowledge and to learn the explanation of things even when the learning is not immediately apparent. It motivates you to discover truths. 

Resilient Learners
Speaking, reading and writing are never easy to learn.  There are many obstacles that need to be overcome and resilience is a valuable life lesson and one that we hold in high regard at Westhaven.

Speaking and listening is woven into everyday life at Westhaven. Communication is essential to life and at Westhaven we strive for every aspect to help promote a learner’s understanding and their ability to communicate effectively. This could be from simply asking for a particular meal choice at lunch to group discussions and debates. At Westhaven the learners are at the heart of everything we do. Every member of staff interacts with the learners and therefore is able to help scaffold and promote communication and spoken language. From September 2023 assemblies will take place twice a week. This is a perfect opportunity for learners to listen and have opportunities to speak in front of others, learners are asked to reflect on their learning from the week, and class assemblies are carried out through the year.

Every class at Westhaven has designated Spoken Language lessons. The areas that these lessons focus on are on our English curriculum which is broken down further into a scheme of work. Our younger learners start with listening and responding and role play. This playful approach is a great way for adults to model conversations and scaffold vocabulary and listening skills. Our older learners participate in debates, discussions, and presentations. Throughout our curriculum at Westhaven there are opportunities for spoken language to be modeled and taught. These are carefully planned by our teachers.

From September 2023 Westhaven will be taking part in Voice 21. Voice 21’s mission is to transform the learning and life chances of young people through talk so that all children can use their voices for success in school and life.  Why does oracy matter? A high-quality oracy education is vital to not only improve the academic outcomes of students but also to foster their confidence and well-being.

We are always keen in our drive to involve parents in all elements of our reading offer as we recognize that a strong home-school partnership, with shared reading values, is an essential factor in every learner’s successful reading development. We ask families to support our reading aims and vision by reading, talking about, and enjoying books with their children, at least three times a week. To achieve this, we offer phonics and reading workshops as well as support links on our website to enable families to confidently support their children with reading at home, as well as provide high-quality books for the learners to take home and enjoy with their families.

The teaching of vocabulary at Westhaven is a vital part of our pedagogy. We aim to broaden learner’s vocabulary knowledge to enable them to be successful at school and beyond. 

The explicit teaching of vocabulary is key to supporting learner’s reading. The teaching of vocabulary may happen incidentally through class discussions and class texts but we know the teaching of vocabulary explicitly is far more valuable. This ensures all learners are exposed to the same, high-quality vocabulary and helps us to increase learners’ wealth of words. Subject-specific vocabulary is sequenced on schemes of learning by subject leaders and is taught during those lessons. We provide word maps for each subject to aid a child’s understanding of the new vocabulary. 

We introduce a new word into our learners’ vocabulary each week (“Word of the Week”), and share the application of this word in our celebration assemblies. We then revisit these words regularly to ensure retrieval practice.

Developing spoken language, including vocabulary, is essential for the academic progress of all children. This is because broad underpinning knowledge, such as of vocabulary and syntax, supports later reading success.

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.” — Rollo Reece May