Literacy and the English Department

On entry pupils are given a Literacy MOT – this highlights aspects of literacy they need to develop. Each pupil has his/her target which should be focused on in any written work. They are asked to take responsibility for marking some of their own work, with a green pen, focusing on addressing these literacy targets.

Pupils are encouraged to read widely, particularly in year 7. At the beginning of their English lessons year 7 pupils read their chosen books and discuss them to stimulate interest. Their induction to the library happens each September and throughout the year teachers can take advantage of a dedicated library slot. Within this, research and study skills are encouraged and developed; additionally pupils can sample, and respond to, a variety of fictional authors, pupils take part in ‘The Big Read’ to encourage a love of reading.
Another weekly reading lesson is dedicated to improving reading and comprehension skills, for example: locating and retrieving information; examining the writer’s viewpoint and inference and deduction. Spelling and grammar are a part of almost every English lesson.

Annually pupils take part in the Readathon, to encourage reading and to raise money for charity. Similarly groups are set reading challenges – they may have to read a novel in two weeks which they will then review and possibly recommend to the rest of the class.
Speaking and listening skills are covered in discreet literacy lessons. Furthermore, communication and drama skills help to increase pupils' confidence in expressing their opinions. Functional letter writing, with a real audience of primary school pupils, is also a component of these literacy lessons.

Literacy Across the Curriculum

All teachers have received literacy training to try to ensure that lessons are differentiated sufficiently to ensure that a pupil's level of literacy does not impinge on success in subjects across the curriculum. Teachers are expected to address a range of whole school approaches to literacy issues e.g.

  • consistent marking, using our SITS / CAN model
  • decoding exam questions / key command words which appear regularly in external exams
  • teaching the spelling and definition of key words (tested in subject lessons and year 7 form time)
  • focusing on explicitly teaching speaking and listening skills and group work protocols, as well as the appropriate use of Standard English in lessons
  • modelling how to answer longer written questions or write for specific purposes in each subject
  • enabling pupils to make effective notes, particularly for revision purposes
  • using the Teaching Assistants to help the less able or work with guided groups

Year 7 Buddy Reading

Each year a group of approximately twenty year 7 pupils are paired up with enthusiastic year 9 or 10 Buddy readers to promote reading and improve skills. They meet twice a week in the LRC and competitions are run to encourage progress.

Year 7 and 8 Reading Recovery

Read Write Inc. Fresh Start was specifically developed to enable every single child who has slipped through the net, even those with learning difficulties, to learn to read and write quickly.

A group of Year 7 pupils has been identified by their reading age scores of below 9 years. The programme is delivered to Year 7 three hours per week. Since December the programme has been rolled out to a group of Year 8 pupils.

Delivery of the programme has been led by the SENDCo, supported by an HLTA, the school librarian and the trainee teachers on their first placement.

Using media

The school also has a 'Ribby Media Team' to celebrate achievements and promote non fictional writing.

  • The team is led by the Head of Media and a small group of year 11 pupils who take on the role of 'Editors'
  • Teams of "reporters" from KS3 are currently interviewing pupils and staff to spread the news on any successes or stories that occur in or out of school. Stories and news can be found on Moodle.

Supporting literacy in the LRC

Pupils are inducted into the library in year 7 and are trained to use Eclipse to book out books, scan for best reads and pupil reviews of popular books borrowed each week. Currently the LRC leader is looking at ways to train pupils to develop their research skills to become more discerning in surfing the internet for information.

Local library services are invited in to engage pupils in reading fiction, for example "The Malkin Child" which has local links to the Pendle witches. Similarly they can shadow the activities of The Lancashire Book of the year programme and review the best of contemporary children's fiction.

The LRC also is used to assist the English Department in rolling out a guided reading programme.