‘Real concepts are impossible without words, and thinking in concepts does not exist beyond verbal thinking. That is why the central moment in concept formation …is a specific use of words as functional tools.’ (Vygotsky)
Literacy is the responsibility of all teachers at our academy. Improving the reading, writing and speaking and listening skills of all of our pupils is key to ensuring they are able to access, engage with and succeed in all areas of the curriculum, as well as in the wider world.
We believe that:
improving students’ use and understanding of vocabulary provides a secure platform on which to build and develop a deeper understanding of subject content in all areas
the ability to write using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar is integral to pupils’ ability to express themselves clearly and coherently
reading using a variety of strategies enables students to learn from sources beyond their immediate experience
responding verbally to higher order questions develops students’ thinking and enquiry skills
group and class discussion allows pupils to reflect and evaluate what has been learnt and what others have said, written or demonstrated
improving literacy improves self-confidence, motivation and independence
Students’ writing skills are encouraged and developed across subjects through:
providing students with opportunities to develop extended pieces of writing in relevant subjects
using live modeling, as well as high quality model pieces to make the process of writing explicit to students
making scaffolding materials available to support less able learners to improve the quality and detail of their writing
The Literacy Marking Code
This is used by all teachers to improve the accuracy of students’ spelling, punctuation and grammar in their writing.
Vocabulary and Keywords
Across the curriculum, key words are displayed in power-point presentations and relevant lesson resources. These are referred back to and embedded at various stages of learning in order to improve students’ level of vocabulary as well as deepen their subject knowledge.
Writing Wednesday has been introduced this year in order to raise students’ awareness and appreciation of the importance of accuracy in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar in their own writing.
Each Wednesday, across all subjects in which students use an exercise book, every lesson begins with a peer-assessment task focusing on technical accuracy. Students use the Academy’s Literacy marking code to identify SPaG errors in each other’s work and then correct their own errors using green pen.
Students’ engagement with reading, as well as their ability to read fluently is encouraged and developed through:
the occurrence of one-hour Library lessons for all KS3 pupils once a fortnight in English with a particular focus on reading for pleasure
directing students to further reading around subject content in order to challenge the more able
adapting texts where necessary to support students with low literacy
a range of author visits and workshops targeted to engage specific year and gender groups in order to inspire a love and appreciation of reading
When some of our students arrive at the academy with low levels of literacy, we endeavor to give them the best chance of succeeding across the curriculum. A range of reading interventions is currently used to identify, target and enable these pupils to improve their reading skills.
All students across KS3 and KS4 undergo an online reading age test three times across each academic year. The results of these tests provide staff with valuable data on students’ reading ages relative to their real age and allows pupils who are falling behind to receive additional support in the form of the following interventions:
Description: Lexia is a web-based Independent Learning System. It is predominantly phonics-based and pupils work through a program independently and at their own pace. The computer keeps track of their progress and provides extra practice on aspects which pupils find difficult.
Description: This phonics scheme is very intensive and repetitive using multi-sensory teaching methods. The pupils are explicitly taught syllabification, and are given instruction on short and long vowel sounds. In each session they work on reading and spelling syllables, building words from syllables, speed reading, and prefixes, suffixes and root words.
Description: This programme involves a short series of one-to-one lessons each week with a specially trained staff member. The programme is different for every child, starting from what the child knows and what he/she needs to learn next. The focus of each lesson is to comprehend meaning in reading and construct meaning in writing.
Description: Academy Readers is a paired reading programme. KS3 pupils with a low reading age work with a more confident reader from Y9 to read a series of books together. In each session the targeted pupil reads to their partner, seeking clarification on difficult words and responding to questioning on the meaning and focus of the text.
Lexia is delivered to targeted students twice per week in Literacy lessons across the academic year using the Academy’s Apple iPads.
Sound Training is delivered to targeted students by specially trained teaching staff over an intensive, six-week period outside of lessons in small groups.
Reading Recovery is delivered on a one-to-one basis by specially trained English TAs to a small selection of targeted pupils over the course of an academic term.
Academy Readers is delivered on a paired basis, with the targeted pupil working with a confident Y9 reader once a week during tutor time.
- Y7 and Y8 classes with a large proportion of pupils who have reading ages of 2 or more years below their actual age
- Y10 pupils whose reading skills are holding them back from succeeding in a range of GCSE subjects
- Y7 PPI pupils with reading ages of 3 or more years below their actual age.
- Y9 PPI pupils with reading ages of 3 or more years below their actual age.
- Y11 PPI pupils whose reading skills are providing a significant barrier to their success in their GCSE subjects
- Y8 pupils who have significant difficulty in accessing written texts as well being able to communicate simple ideas through writing
- Y7 pupils with reading ages of 2 or more years below their actual age
Speaking and Listening
Across all subjects, students’ skills in expressing their ideas through speaking are supported and extended through:
the use of higher-level and targeted questioning in lessons to provide students with opportunities share their ideas verbally and build on those of others in the class
paired, grouped and whole-class discussion to clarify ideas and construct meaning
a focus on key words in discussion and question feedback to encourage pupils to ‘speak like an expert’ to demonstrate their knowledge in various subjects