Literacy at St Luke’s
What is literacy?
“Literacy is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight” (Lauri Fortino)
Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. When we refer to literacy at St Luke’s we mean:
- SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
- Extended writing
- Presentation – clear presentation is needed in order for ideas to be understood
- Oracy – students need to be able to offer extended verbal contributions
- Tier two and tier three (subject specific) vocabulary in both written and verbal responses
Why is literacy so important?
Lacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life. As a child they won’t be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and as a parent they won’t be able to support their own child’s learning. This intergenerational cycle makes social mobility and a fairer society more difficult. (National Literacy Trust)
We believe that literacy:
- Improves students’ life chances post-16
- Raises aspirations
- Opens students’ eyes to the wider world and fosters curiosity
- Builds resilience and introduces a sense of ownership of work
- Improves the quality of students’ work
- Develops a love of oracy, reading and writing
How do we improve students’ literacy?
Literacy is a whole school responsibility. Below are the ways in which teachers aim to improve students’ literacy:
- Explicit teaching of tier three (subject-specific) vocabulary
- Consistent use of tier two vocabulary in interactions with students
- Checking students’ understanding of tier two vocabulary
- Non-fiction comprehension tasks in every subject area
- Summative assessments to be checked for spelling (sp), punctuation (p), paragraphs (//), capital letters (C) and a SPAG mark awarded using the mark criteria out of 4
- Literacy errors to be addressed through live marking / verbal feedback in every subject
- Expecting students to answer verbal questions in full sentences – teachers should not accept one word answers – “Can you put that into a sentence for me please?”
- Displaying word of the week prominently in all classrooms and on visual displays around the school and where possible include the word in teaching and / or students’ answers
- All staff promoting reading through the tutorial reading programme
- Use of knowledge organisers to support students’ understanding of challenging and subject-specific vocabulary.
How can parents support literacy at home?
As a parent, there are many ways in which you can support your child with literacy at home. Here are some simple ideas you could try:
- Encourage your child to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts including articles, blogs and travel writing.
- Talk to your child about what they are reading in tutorial. Ask them to explain what is happening in the book and how they feel about it.
- Read with your child – sharing reading is something you probably did regularly when your child was younger but it shouldn’t stop once they reach secondary school.
- Help your child to work out what an unfamiliar word means by getting them to read the rest of the sentence and look for clues.
- Quiz your child on key vocabulary on their knowledge organisers.
- Ask your child about the word of the week. Can they explain its meaning to you? Can they use it in a sentence?
- Expect your child to speak in complete sentences – this will help them to develop vital communication skills.