Literacy Matters

Across the school this year, we will be focusing on improving the literacy of all our students. We all see the huge benefits that this has on our students, in every aspect of their life and we hope that you are already seeing the benefit at home.

Why Literacy Matters!

  • Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11. 

  • Further research, conducted in 2015, found that similar percentages of 15-year-olds across the UK do not have a minimum level of literacy proficiency: 18% in England and Scotland, 15% in Northern Ireland and 21% in Wales. 

  • Students are less able to learn other curricula if they do not develop sufficient reading skills by the middle of primary school. 

  • Only 35% of 10-year-olds in England report that they like reading ‘very much’. This lags behind countries like Russia (46%), Ireland (46%), New Zealand (44%), and Australia (43%). 

  • By the final year of compulsory schooling in England, the reading skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average almost three years behind those from the most affluent homes. 

Our first focus of this academic year has been vocabulary:

We are, in particular, helping students to improve their knowledge and understanding of Tier 3 words that are specific to the subjects that they are studying. By doing so, students will be better able to navigate their lessons, as they feel confident in using a range of words.

These words form the Keystone Vocabulary for each unit in a subject – the most important words that we need our students to know and understand. As part of this, we have introduced Frayer Models across the school – Click here for an explanation: The Frayer Model Explained

See example:

They are a simple yet effective way to organise our knowledge of the keystone vocabulary. Students will be completing these in class collaboratively, as well as independently, as part of their home learning across all year groups. Students will become more confident in their use of these words and will further develop their word consciousness moving forwards.

All our students have taken to this initiative with excitement and inquisitiveness. Ask your children what new words they have learnt this week and what they mean? We have seen some amazing work from our students in all years, confidently being able to discuss the etymology and morphology of some really complex words. You will be amazed at the wonderful work they have done!

Here are some worked examples of Frayer models for English, Maths and Science:

Our next strategy will to investigate how we engage students in the reading of academic texts – looking at approaches to reading across the curriculum and then approaches to writing across the curriculum. Watch this space for more information!

Why Reading Matters!

  • A quarter of students at 15 still have a reading age of 12 or below.

  • There is significant correlation between students’ reading ability and eventual performance across all subjects at GCSE, which is just as strong in maths and sciences as it is in arts subjects

  • The overwhelming majority of students – four in five – will be less likely to have the literacy skills to access a GCSE curriculum at Year 7

  • The gender gap in reading ability widens at secondary school, with girls outperforming boys, whereas the gap in reading ability between FSM and non-FSM students remains static between Years 7 and 11

In addition to whole school literacy skills development, we also offer additional literacy support within the curriculum, as follows:

Language Through Literacy

Literacy support for students who have dropped MFL in order to concentrate on developing literacy skills. Programmes used to enhance learning:

  • Read Write Inc. Fresh Start

  • Spelling Mastery

  • Tow x Toe

  • SNIP 

  • Catch-Up Literacy 

  • Precision Teaching

Programme used for students with Reading Scores and Spelling Standardised Scores below average on entry, (baseline assessments).

Step Up to English

AQA Entry Level Certificate, to prepare students for GCSE studies in English. Students transition from Language Through Literacy to this programme, delivered in Year 9.

Click here for more information: AQA Entry Level Certificate


Online etymology dictionary: Etymonline

Alex Quigley’s blog post on the THREE PILLARS OF VOCABULARY TEACHING:

The Confident Teacher