Aim: To improve reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
Background: It was felt this was a vital area of focus because, on average, 50-60% of the intake of pupils had a reading age below their chronological age. Staff feedback suggested that literacy was a barrier to student outcomes.
Following a series of Inset sessions, a formal whole school literacy policy, with three strands Read, Write and Speak, was written with the collaboration of staff from a range of departments. 'Literacy Reps' within each department refined and shared literacy teaching techniques. Whole school "book looks" identified areas of good practice and areas which required support. The policy was shared with students who had a copy in their planners.
The focus was on developing the confidence of staff in practical subjects to develop student oracy through Inset sessions and paired lesson observation. Students in Years 10 and 11 were given an additional 50 minute English lesson per week. Additional reading for pleasure time was embedded across the school with an extended 15 minute form time. Three additional 'reading meta-cognition lessons' were introduced for the students with the lowest reading age in Year 7. This was such a success that it was rolled out into Year 8 and then Year 9. A comfortable reading lounge was created in the library together with an outdoor reading area.
The aim was to understand the literacy needs at KS1 and KS2 and ensure they were met when the new primary school was opened. For year three, the focus was on cross curricular literacy links and a greater focus on disciplinary literacy.
Impact: Staff were very positive about working with the Literacy Rep Committee, collaborative working with colleagues from other departments and the training sessions. In January 2018, the school was recognised with a Reading for Pleasure award and, in July 2018, was awarded Champion School status by Renaissance Learning. Close links were maintained with the National Literacy Trust and the work has been used as a case study for good practice:
The literary strategy is displayed in every classroom and is now a fully functioning aspect of the school teaching and learning approach.
Reflections: The challenge has been embedding a new policy in a very large (and growing) split site school with over 100 teachers. Ensuring that there is a consistent approach can be challenging and we endeavour to continue to overcome this issue.
Our biggest successes were the creation of the policy, the connections and collaborations we have formed between teachers and the accolades we have been awarded along the way.
Contact: Isabel Eames firstname.lastname@example.org