Communication at Key Stage 3


Communication is central to the whole curriculum. Pupils should be able to communicate so they can:

  • develop as individuals;
  • express themselves socially, emotionally and physically;
  • engage with others; and
  • contribute as members of society.

The modes of Communication are:

  • Talking and Listening;
  • Reading; and
  • Writing.

Effective communication also includes non-verbal modes and engaging with a range of multimedia and ICT texts that may combine different modes. These modes are covered in a range of contexts across the curriculum.

Teachers of any subject can encourage pupils to become effective communicators by using a range of techniques, forms and media to convey information and ideas creatively and appropriately.

Standards of pupil competency in Language and Literacy are measured through the Cross-Curricular Skill of Communication.

Using the Levels of Progression as a framework for progression in subjects other than English can help teachers to embed the skills of analysis, evaluation and using evidence effectively. All of these skills are referenced in the higher bands of GCSE and GCE assessment.

Assessing Communication

Assessing the Communication skills across the curriculum in a systematic and consistent way can help pupils to manage their own learning and to identify learning targets. It also helps pupils to connect learning from different areas of study. This will embed the independent learning that is desirable at GCSE and GCE.

See the Assess and Progress section for more detailed advice and guidance on assessing Communication.


For more information on Communication contact:

Roisin McCreesh
(028) 9026 1200 ext. 2635

General Resources

Levels of Progression in Communication

The Levels of Progression are set out in can-do statements. These show the continuum of skills that pupils should be able to demonstrate so they can build the literacy skills needed for functioning effectively in life and the world of work. The Levels of Progression and the Expansion of the Levels of Progression are available from Communication at Key Stage 3 in the Assess and Progress section.

Ready ReckonersReady Reckoners

While the Levels of Progression documents are can-do statements for pupils across the whole Key Stage, the Ready Reckoners have been developed to make it easier to apply the levels to individual pieces of work. They provide teachers with the steps of development of each skill and can be useful for Assessment for Learning.

Communication ChecklistsA Literary Resource for Pupils and Teachers

This pack contains checklists that cover the following modes of Communication:

  • Talking and Listening;
  • Reading; and
  • Writing.

Teachers can choose a small selection of points from a card. This will give pupils focus when taking part in activities that involve Talking and Listening, Reading or Writing. We have designed the cards to be used across the curriculum in a variety of different situations.

Talking and Listening

Ready Reckoner for Talking & Listening 69 KB - uploaded 10-27-2015

Talking & Listening Checklist: Cards 464 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016

Talking & Listening Checklist: Posters 563 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016

Starter activity for improving Talking and ListeningStarter Activity for Talking and Listening

This resource supports teachers in developing pupils’ Talking and Listening skills. It can be particularly useful for Key Stage 3 pupils who are underachieving.

We have designed this starter activity to help pupils focus on the specific aspects of the skills assessed in classroom activities.


Ready Reckoner for Reading 64 KB - uploaded 10-27-2015

Reading Checklist: Cards 515 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016

Reading Checklist: Posters 645 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016


Ready Reckoner for Writing 63 KB - uploaded 10-27-2015

Writing Checklist: Cards 467 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016

Writing Checklist: Posters 655 KB - Uploaded 06-13-2016

Key Stage 3 Task Support System CCEA Task Support System

This system helps schools to develop teaching resources and create a bank of school-based activities.

The Task Writing Tool is a planning tool that generates a differentiated assessment grid for your pupils, in line with the skills you want to develop. It is a peer-to-peer support system that provides feedback from teams of experienced, practising teachers.

As well as supporting planning for learning in Communication skills, teachers have found it useful for embedding the skills of Self-Management and Working with Others. It is also useful for embedding the skills of peer and self-assessment by pupils.

Task and Exemplification Library

Our Exemplification Library for post-primary schools contains examples of pupil work that show the standards for Levels of Progression 1–7 in the Cross-Curricular Skills.

Each record of exemplification work in the library contains:

  • a piece of pupil work that has been assessed and assigned a level;
  • a commentary, which describes the evidence for that level;
  • the task or question the pupil has responded to; and
  • where appropriate, the accompanying pupil activity.

We advise teachers to look at the examples in the library and then develop their own assessment tasks that will meet their pupils’ needs.

To access the Task and Exemplification Library, go to Skills and Learning: Interactive Support. Teachers do not have to log in for the Task Library but they do have to log in for the Exemplification Library to access pupils’ actual work.

Interactive Levels of Progression Interactive Levels of Progression

CCEA has created a new interactive resource for the Communication Levels of Progression including all Key Stages: SEN, Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1, 2 & 3. It brings together the levels of progression, the expansions documents and the ready reckoners in one easy to navigate system.

The resource is designed to fully support progression. Teachers can choose a mode, select a requirement and have a choice to either move between the full range of levels from the Q skills through to level 7, or select specific levels as a focus. In addition, teachers are able to view related tasks and exemplification linked to the requirement they have selected.

Subject-Specific Resources

Developing Communication Skills in Learning for Life and WorkDeveloping Communication Skills in Learning for Life and Work

This document highlights where Communication skills can be developed in Learning for Life and Work activities and provides guidelines for teachers on how to help pupils improve their skills.

Research and Useful Links

Increasingly, Teacher Professional Learning is being informed by and contributing to educational research. The links below may be useful in identifying research and international trends that may be relevant in your own professional development.

TED Talks on education

The Education Endowment Foundation’s resource on literacy

Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation

Teacherhead’s teaching and learning research summaries