Aim: To improve students’ awareness of the importance of literacy and help them develop their understanding of punctuation, spelling, grammar and syntax; to train teachers in effective use of literacy.

Background: The project was inspired by the changes to the KS3 and KS4 curricula and the introduction of an emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar. It was also aimed at addressing the differences between the students coming from different primary schools and narrowing the gap between GCSE requirements and the current levels of students. The increased weight of the Language paper made the research particularly relevant.

Method: The project was divided into three stages – in the first year students were made aware of the relevant terminology and looked at individual word classes and single sentences. The fact that all the students were familiar with the terminology facilitated detailed analysis and made it easier to deconstruct and discuss sentences and short extracts. In the second year the project focused on punctuation and sentence structures, and students had an opportunity to explore various sentence structures and the impact of punctuation. The third year of the project focused on the practical application of knowledge and the internal cohesion of texts, with the use of linking phrases, appropriate paragraphing and manipulation of register as key issues. During the first year of the project the schemes of work were introduced to all Year 7 classes. Their achievements were then compared to the previous cohort.

Evidence: Assessment data.

Impact: The analysis of Year 7 termly assessments, end-of-year tests and students’ reports demonstrated a measurable improvement in their attainment level.

Whilst the majority of Year 9 pupils made excellent progress with regards to sentence structuring and punctuation, the vast majority needed to improve their structuring of whole texts. Their progress was then measured throughout the year focusing specifically on paragraphing and cohesion. It was found that 80% of students made significant progress and all bar 2% had made good progress. Compared to previous cohorts their work overall was cohesive with good spelling and a variety of accurate punctuation.

The programme has been very successful in terms of embedding key skills and preparing students for the rigours of KS4.

Reflections: It has been decided that this practice should continue as the benefits are clearly discernible. The programme has given pupils confidence in their work and has steered them away from developing bad habits. This cohort showed a significant absence of texting language in their written work and they were used to using a range of punctuation. Their work appears markedly more sophisticated than their predecessors’.