Literacy in Action

Literacy Matters at Notley High School &
Braintree Sixth Form

With the continued need to develop students’ literacy skills beyond the English classroom, the greater proportion of marks being awarded for literacy in examinations and the knowledge that employers value good literacy in their staff, literacy is a significant focus within the school. 

The school’s reading initiative, Drop Everything and Read (DEAR), is held each week during morning registration. Students and staff use this time to read together. The intention of DEAR is to encourage students to read a range of non-fiction and fictions texts and to dedicate a small amount of time each week to developing their reading skills. In addition, thirty Year 12 students in Braintree Sixth Form have been paired up with some of our KS3 students as reading mentors to support younger students with their reading in the library during this time enabling our younger students to see how important reading is to our older sixth form students. 

In addition, with regards to marking and assessment, staff at the school mark students’ exercise books and/ or students’ folders for literacy using three literacy codes: 

P – punctuation mistake 

// – paragraph break 

SP – spelling mistake 

The intention of these marking codes is to highlight to students where there are inaccuracies in their writing. It also ensures that students know how all staff at the school value accurate, well-crafted written responses regardless of the subject they teach. 

Students in KS3 also take a reading and spelling age test during their English lessons to determine their reading and spelling ages and how these compare with their chronological age. All teaching staff have access to this data that they use for differentiation in the classroom and for us to track students’ progress in literacy.  Students with lower reading ages also have additional support to help make a difference to their ability to read, and in turn enable them to access the wider curriculum more successfully. 

Other important literacy work includes annual liaison between the school and our link primary schools. For example, for the past four years, staff from the school’s English Faculty have met with KS2 teachers to share examples of good practice in the teaching of literacy and marking for literacy.  Our Year 10 students participate in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge each year - and our School Library leads World Book Day activities each March. Finally, key spellings from each subject taught at the school are displayed on the student display screens throughout the year so that students can become familiar with some of the trickier spellings used in each subject they learn. 

Mrs Sutton is Literacy Co-ordinator for the school and can be contacted by email at

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