Reading and literacy
At The St Leonards Academy, significant emphasis is placed on reading and literacy. We believe that confidence in reading and high levels of literacy have a direct impact on student outcomes. The ability to read is a ‘right’ that allows students to access their learning across the curriculum.
When students arrive at The St Leonards Academy in Year 7, MidYIS testing is completed. The combination of the results of this testing alongside Key Stage 2 SAT scores, allows us to evaluate the ‘reading’ ability of the cohort. This information is used to ensure that students are put in the correct pathway, ensuring that the correct level of support with reading and literacy is put in place.
Students in Pathways L and A do not study a language. Instead, they have additional ‘literacy’ lessons. These are built around the reading of a literature based text. Across the lessons both key reading skills are developed and revised, as well as extended writing skills. The aim here is to improve access to the whole curriculum. The texts studied are modern texts that contain engaging content relevant to issues in today's society that many young people can relate to. The content of these texts link to a range of subjects across many faculties. This allows students to connect their learning to the rest of the curriculum.
English and literacy
In English lessons, at all Key Stages, there is a high emphasis placed on reading and literacy. All lessons include lesson starters that have a literacy focus. Extended reading and writing feature in all schemes of work and reading aloud is encouraged.
All students in Years 7 and 8 are expected to have their own reading book and to read independently. They are all enrolled on the Accelerated Reader scheme and they are supported by their English teacher. Also, they have timetabled ‘reading’ lessons where they can access the Academy library, read independently and complete AR quizzes to demonstrate their comprehension and inference skills. Teachers monitor the progress of their students and challenge them to move up the AR reading levels.
For those students who join the academy with a ‘reading’ score below 98, ‘Sound Training’ is put in place. This focuses on ‘phonetics’ and is proven to accelerate their reading age by up to two years in the space of six weeks. Students are pre-tested by an English teacher and re-tested after the intervention to evaluate the progress made. For the weakest readers (those with a ‘reading’ score below 80’), an additional intervention is put in place with small group (4-5 students) work directly with a member of the learning support department. In addition to this, we have our least confident readers working with ‘Honey’ the dog.
Finally, the whole of the English department are working to support and improve oracy amongst our students. The project aims to improve the way that students articulate and explain their ideas. Again, this is built in to schemes of work across all key stages.
Confidence in reading and high levels of literacy have a direct impact on student outcomes
All of our teachers are ‘teachers of literacy’ and emphasis on spelling and punctuation is evident across the curriculum.
There is a high emphasis placed on reading and literacy at all Key Stages
Across the curriculum
At TSLA, all teachers are considered to be ‘teachers of literacy’. As such, when marking work, it is the expectation that spellings and punctuation errors are addressed by the teacher and corrected by the student. Work scrutiny is used to hold staff to account and ensure that literacy is a feature of their marking.
There is a clear expectation that command words and tier 2/3 vocabulary is explicitly taught. This is evidenced in schemes of work and through learning reviews. The aim is to develop, over time, a confidence with exam literacy to enhance students’ performance across all of their subjects.
All teachers participate in delivering a ‘reading programme’ aimed at improving the ‘cultural capital’ of our students. Once per fortnight during Period 1, all students in the Academy read a challenging non-fiction text and complete a range of tasks aimed at improving their comprehension skills, as well as encouraging them to develop opinions on a diverse range of social, moral and culturally relevant topics. In addition to this, ‘Find and Fix Fridays’ are used to ensure that students learn to correct their spelling, punctuation and grammar, raising standards of written literacy.
Regular professional development has been put in place to help staff make literacy an integral part of their students’ learning. The practices and approaches to literacy across the curriculum are frequently reviewed to ensure that there is a direct impact on learning and engagement.