Acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life.
Kofi Annan (Seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations)
At Icknield High School, we believe that literacy and communication are skills for life. Through the curriculum that the school offers, we will help our students develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language to equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners. We want our students to enjoy and appreciate literature in its rich variety.
Literacy is at the heart of all students’ learning. Literacy enables children both to communicate with others effectively for a variety of purposes and to examine their own and others experiences, feeling and ideas giving these order and meaning. As literacy is central to student’s intellectual, emotional and social development, it has an essential role across the curriculum and helps students’ learning to be coherent and progressive.
What is Literacy?
Literacy generates the development of effective skills in communication and life skills. To be literate, is to be able to speak, listen, read and write at a level necessary to function in education, at work and in society.
What are Icknield High School’s Literacy Aims?
The aim of the Literacy Team is to raise literacy attainment at every level of ability. Staff working together to integrate the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing into the curriculum to maximise the potential of each student. By the time students leave our school, we expect them to communicate through speaking and listening, reading and writing, with confidence, fluency and understanding in a range of situations. We want every student to take pleasure in reading across a range of genres and have a strong motivation to read for a variety of purposes
Why is Literacy Important?
The development of an effective literacy skillset (that is, speaking, listening, reading and writing) is fundamental to the achievement of a rich and fulfilling life. We use these skills every day in order to communicate with, and make sense of, the world around us. As such, the better we are at these skills the more successful we can expect to be in life. At Icknield High School we recognise that at the heart of improving literacy skills is the opportunity to practise them. Improving literacy and learning can have an impact on students’ self-esteem, motivation, behaviour and attainment. It allows them to learn independently and is empowering.
Icknield High School’s curriculum is underpinned by developing students’ abilities to speak, listen, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including using language to learn, communicate, think, explore and organise. Helping students to express themselves clearly, through development of vocabulary, both orally and in writing, enhances and enriches teaching and learning in all subjects and prepares the student for life after school.
We believe that reading, and particularly reading for pleasure, has a direct impact on cognitive and social communicative development. Our aim is to develop each student’s potential to the point where they are reading at, or above, their chronological age. We will quantify this development through a robust program of assessment, intervention and data analysis. Baseline data in term 1 will inform intervention and planning with progress and development mapped against two further assessment points throughout the year, alongside monitoring and evaluation procedures.
How do we monitor Literacy and Reading Progress?
Year 7 students complete an NGRT Reading Assessment in the Autumn term, this is retaken at the end of the year in the Summer term. In Year 8, the students are tested in the Summer term using the NGRT.
Year 7 and 8 students are also monitored and tracked using Accelerated Reader termly by the A.R. coordinator. Students take termly STAR tests during their Extra English lessons; these are then shared with their students and praised for good progress and challenged about their lack of reading and progress.
Some students will participate in Bedrock Vocabulary and their progress will be tracked using the baseline and end of topic tests.
What strategies do we use?
- ERIC (Everybody Reads in Class)
Each tutor group in Years 7-10 has a book box with a class set of books so everyone can read in morning registration. There are a number of activities that may accompany these including tasks and a growing number of audio books. Research suggests that by regularly being exposed to reading aloud will develop reading and vocabulary (Westbrook, J. Sutherland, J. Oakhill, J and Sullivan, S. 2018).
- Public Speaking Competition
There are a range of public speaking opportunities including debating. This is coordinated by the English Department
- 500 words competition
Year 7 students take part in the 500 word competition, where each student writes a story in 500 words.
- Author Visits
The school holds a number of author visits where the students have a special assembly by the author followed by student targeted workshops including for more able, pupil premium students and Year 7 Catch Up students.
Drop Everything and Read happens termly where everyone stops what they are doing and reads including staff.
- Use of Key Words
Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary (Beck, McKeown, and Kucan,2013) words make up much of the vocabulary used in exams and later on in life. We offer a range of strategies to develop key word use including Bedrock Vocabulary and teaching key words in lessons.
- Annual Events such as World Book Day
An opportunity for students to engage with literacy and reading. We hold events for World Book Day where students receive a book token and take part in activities in tutor groups and the LRC
- Writing Frames and Sentence Starters
Within lessons, teachers use writing frames and sentence starters to develop students’ writing.
The LRC and staff promote reading for pleasure and the development of literacy. They hold a number of interventions and lessons including Extra English where students complete Accelerated Reader, handwriting, paired reading and Bedrock Vocabulary. Seasonal/topical book displays and events are held.
- Word of the Week
Aimed at developing student vocabulary. This now includes a root word and range of examples to increase student exposure and increase the challenge for more able students. This is shared with all.
- Bedrock Vocabulary
Used to develop the vocabulary of students with below chronological reading age
- Paired Reading
Year 7 students who are reading below expectation read with more able readers in Year 9, and Year 8 readers, pair read with more able Year 10 readers to increase reading ability
- Accelerated Reader
Accelerated Reader is used during the Extra English lessons which is timetabled every 2 weeks and gives students the opportunity to take quizzes so progress can be tracked. Measures reading ability but also the number of words read.
- Catch Up 7 Programme
Programme aimed at developing the literacy skills of those students below age related expectation based on Key Stage 2
- Student Librarians
Assist in the LRC with book lending and returning as well as new activities
- Staff CPD
Annual staff development using INSET, Professional Learning, Bring and Brag and research articles
- Vocabulary Development
Vocabulary is developed through the Word of the week, teaching of Tier 2 and Tier 3 in lessons. Staff have training of vocabulary development based on the work of Beck, McKeown, and Kucan’ Bringing words to life (2013), Quigley’s Closing the Vocabulary Gap (2018) and Oxford University Press’ Closing the word gap (2018)
- Handwriting club
Aimed to improve legibility, fluidity as well as speed as sustained ability to write is needed for the demands of examinations
Links to useful documents and websites
Subject definitions: https://www.senecalearning.com/definitions
KS3 English Support: https://app.senecalearning.com/courses?Type=Free&Level=KS3&Subject=English
Bedrock vocabulary; https://app.bedrocklearning.org/