“Literacy is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight”
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 in lessons
- 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)
What is literacy?
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 and all teachers need to be using the same common language when referring to it. Below are the ways in which we can work together to improve students’ literacy:
- Explicit teaching of tier three 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 our prefix of the week prominently in all classrooms and on visual displays around the school
- All staff promoting reading through the tutorial reading programme
- Use of knowledge organisers to support students’ understanding of challenging and subject-specific vocabulary.
Tutorial Reading Programme
As part of our literacy strategy this year, we have introduced a tutorial reading programme. There is a wealth of research which identifies the importance of reading in developing many aspects of students’ lives and yet ‘children and young people’s reading engagement has steadily fallen over the past four years’ (National Literacy Trust).
The benefits of reading are not only linked to better outcomes for students but there are a number of other benefits too: ‘reading for pleasure has not only been associated with increases in reading attainment but also with writing ability, text comprehension, grammar, breadth of vocabulary, attitudes, self-confidence as a reader, pleasure in reading in later life, general knowledge, a better understanding of other cultures, community participation, a greater insight into human nature and decision making’ (Clark and Rumbold 2006).
We have designed our reading programme in order to role-model positive reading experiences and to open our students’ eyes to the wonderful world of literature. Titles have been chosen for each year group which offer a variety of genres, time periods, topical issues, narrative styles and challenging vocabulary. A range of fiction and non-fiction texts are available.
How it works
- Tutors select a title from the reading list for their tutor group’s year and read it to their students. Tutors will explain the meaning of any difficult vocabulary as they read.
- Students need to track the reading – the reason we ask all students to do this is that reading rulers steady the eye and therefore a number of aspects of reading can improve including attention span, reading speed, fluency and comprehension.
- Once the book has been finished, the students rate it out of 5 and discuss their response to the text.