“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?”
- 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
- Each year group is allocated a reading book that is linked to our values.
- Tutors display and explain challenging vocabulary as they read.
- Students discuss the text using the strategies of Predicting and Questioning to improve their engagement and understanding of the book.
At St Luke’s, we are committed to ensuring that all students are able to read with fluency, enjoyment and comprehension. Evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment; there is also a significant correlation between reading ability and GCSE results across all subjects. Because of this, we have introduced Sparx Reader for our year 7s.
Sparx Reader begins with students reading some texts and answering comprehension questions based on what they have read. Once students have reached their level, it lets students choose from a range of ebooks. As students enjoy their e-readers, Sparx Reader will periodically post quick questions to check comprehension and that they are reading with care. Careful readers earn points so they can track their progress and climb the league table, earning Merits and rewards as they go.
As English teachers, we fully appreciate the importance of getting lost in a great paperback! For our most avid, motivated readers who demonstrate consistent comprehension they will soon unlock Gold Reader, meaning they can read any book from the library or from home by scanning in its barcode.
We hope to get as many of our year 7s onto Gold Reader as possible as reading for pleasure is also associated with improved mental health, creativity and economic outcomes. Therefore, we aim to celebrate those students who are reading more than the allocated amount and will be keeping an eager eye on the number of words we have read as a year group.
Having seen the amazing impact of our coaching programme, we're proud to have been selected as a Steplab Coaching Hub, supporting leaders to implement high quality professional development across their school. We love visitors and you're guaranteed lots of practical ideas and bottomless tea, coffee and biscuits! To find out more about our approach to instructional coaching, check out this free downloadable beginner's'guide written by Peps McCrea, Director of Research at Steplab. To book a coaching hub visit to our school, just email the friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org