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Texts That Teach

Texts That Teach is an approach to teaching English provided by Devon Education Services. Whilst not created specifically for pupils with SEND, we chose to use this approach in Year 4-8 because it meets the needs of our pupils in a number of ways.

Firstly, it emphasises the need for access to rich, varied and high-quality texts. All writing and grammar skills are taught through these texts. This ensures our pupils are reading the most engaging and exciting books, and learning new literacy skills in a meaningful context.

Secondly, you may have noticed on our English curriculum map that in Year 4-8 we have a list of texts for each year group, rather than specified texts to cover each term. This is due to the fact that Texts That Teach allows us to select which text is best for our class, based on their needs. This is another way this approach allows us to personalise the learning journey to best support our pupils.

Rather than providing activities for us to follow, Devon Education Service emphasise the need for ‘planning backwards,’ where we begin with an elicitation task and use this to inform what the outcome should be for each unit. We then plan the learning journey for each child, ensuring the targets identified in the elicitation task are addressed. Working in this way ensures there is always an emphasis on personalising the learning journey to meet the needs of the individual child, and ensures we are always working towards a meaningful outcome.


The Texts That Teach approach also supports our pupils well by providing a clear structure to follow throughout each unit. Whilst every learning journey is carefully adapted, there are some ‘golden threads’ that remain in every teaching sequence. For example:


Getting to know the text

  • Learning a section of the text by heart with actions
  • Creating a story map
  • Collecting information about vocabulary and grammar in the text
  • Creating a Writerly Knowledge Chart, which helps us to consider the impact on the reader of the author’s choices
  • Boxing up the text into its main events in order to gain a clear understanding of the basic structure
  • Practising personal writing targets in the context of the text

Practising writing

  • Planning a class text by making small changes to the original text
  • Lots of teacher modelling as the class text is written
  • Pupils practise writing and applying their targets

Independent writing

  • Pupils follow the structure they have learned and use this to plan their own text
  • Pupils apply their learning, particularly their target work, in their end of unit written piece


Comparing the end of unit piece to the elicitation task is a chance to reflect on the progress made throughout the unit and celebrate successes.