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 has recently signed up to the Accelerated Reader scheme, a reading scheme that allows students to read within a certain range and take quizzes on those books to help with fluency and confidence within reading. This is done within English lessons in year 7 and 8, and across the curriculum for 15 minutes DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) twice a week. All students also have a reading record on the back of their pure cards to continue their reading at home.
DEAR mentoring and Toe by Toe mentoring takes place within tutor time, utilising the older students to help support those who may need it. Using the KS2 data and the results of the initial Accelerated Reader test, staff are also able to ensure that texts are differentiated for students, enabling them to access everything they may need to within every lesson.
Each department has a key Literacy target that is used to support students, and this is referred to in lessons to help expand and develop their appreciation of Literacy and the subject they are in. This may be ensuring key words are spelt correctly, or making sure that each use of evidence has a ‘why’ to explain it. All departments also use SQUAD paragraphs, a method to ensure students are expanding on their answers and structuring their work to enable them to fulfil the demands of the questions in each of their subjects. The aim with this is to allow students to see that Literacy is important in all subjects, and that there are commonalities between all areas of the school.
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.
Within tutor time, KS3 will also have specific literacy booklets that will help them to practise the key skills needed for writing accurately – a skill that is needed for all the subjects as all exams now carry a spelling, punctuation and grammar mark.
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 - www.speakoutchallenge.com and our School Library leads World Book Day activities each March.