Literacy

Literacy

Literacy is an extremely powerful tool which will enable students to access all aspects of the curriculum. Our aim is to improve the literacy skills of all our students at all levels. With parents’/ carers’ support, we aim to equip all students with the essential literacy skills needed to achieve academic success and thereby enable them to participate in the highly competitive world of employment.

Writing

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and to engage your reader. As such, written accuracy is essential and it is also essential to recognise that it is not acceptable to continue to make the same errors year after year. Across the curriculum we understand the importance of enabling all our students to write in an extended and fluid way, giving them all the best opportunity to perform well in longer examination written tasks.

How can written accuracy be improved?

  • Students must always strive for accurate expression. Every piece of their work should be checked for basic errors and also for opportunities to improve expression and develop ideas. Where possible, we advise our students to work collaboratively, encouraging peers to read over work to help identify inaccuracies and challenge students to develop written ideas further.
  • We encourage students to check that sentences have been used properly (capital letter to start and punctuation at the end). By focusing on paragraph development, using topic sentences and sequential connectives, we enable students to understand how to construct well-rounded, extended pieces of writing. By working in activities that link specifically to topic sentences, sequential connectives and connectives to add detail and justification we hope that help students to build their confidence in extended writing directly across the curriculum.
  • We use ‘Subject Vocabulary’ to incorporate imaginative use of vocabulary, as well as demonstrating to students how technical/ subject terminology can be used effectively.
  • We recommend that students use the ‘Literacy’ pages in their planner to support accurate written expression and check common errors that lead to incoherent writing.
  • As part of our ‘Literacy’ VMG activities we provide students with a ‘Word of the Week’ task to encourage students to work collaboratively, developing the use of vocabulary in coherent and thoughtful sentences.
  • There are some common errors that lots of people seem to struggle with and these have been identified by our English Department as the ‘Top Ten’. The ‘Top Ten’ aim is to ensure that everyone is able to use the following list of features accurately and reliably. This will dramatically improve the accuracy of written expression. It is important to learn the rules rather than simply guess which is the appropriate choice!

‘Top Ten’:

  • was/were
  • your/you’re
  • there/their/they’re
  • been/being
  • possessive apostrophe
  • its/it’s
  • sat/sitting
  • stood/standing
  • plural ys and ies
  • contractions

Spelling

Anxiety about spelling is one of the major barriers to confident writing. However, it is a barrier that with practice and patience can be broken down to produce a confident communicator. Our aim is to promote the value of accurate spellings, careful spelling practice and the impact it can have on writing. The spelling ‘Dirty Thirty’ identifies commonly misspelt words that many people struggle with to provide our students with a base to build their confidence.

The student planner includes pages for all students to record key words that are causing difficulties in their writing. If a few spellings are learnt every week, it has a dramatic long-term effect on writing. We actively encourage students to learn spellings weekly within Literacy lessons and VMG Literacy activities. The words chosen are selected by a wide range of curriculum experts, assisting students in learning spellings which cause common misconception or difficulty, providing our students with a helpful and relevant spelling experience.

To help students further develop their spelling accuracy, across the curriculum, we allow ‘Self Reflection Time’ for students to correct and review their key spellings and commonly confused spelling errors.

Reading

Many children leave primary school with fairly proficient reading skills. However, reading as a life skill requires so much more than this. A modern day curriculum requires students to be able to access increasingly more complex texts as a means of achieving qualifications in a variety of subject areas.

By focusing on reading as a key part of the curriculum, we provide students with the ability to read avidly and with confidence. By building in reading time to VMG, we ensure that all students have time to enjoy their reading material and independently apply a range of reading strategies, such as peer reading, to create a supportive and collaborative approach to boost confidence and apply skills that will be beneficial in examination situations.

We have a superb Learning Resource Centre, a facility that provides our students with a varied and exciting selection of reading material from which to choose. Students can build their reading independence by selecting books that intrigue and interest them, supporting them in building skills that contribute to such a valuable life skill. We encourage reading within the curriculum and outside the classroom to build, but also embed, a love of reading for all our students.

All students in Years 7, 8 and 9 access Accelerated Reader, a facility that allows students to quiz on their recent reads and track their own progress and development. Accelerated Reader is a key part of our English curriculum and is also accessed within VMG time. We reward and encourage students to make progress relative to their starting points; this ensures that their love of reading extends into a passion.

How can reading ability be improved?

  • Be encouraged to ask questions about the text. Why? How? What might happen next?
  • Develop frequent reading habits. We advise our students to read regularly! 30 minutes a day is advisable.
  • Read with another person and then discuss key features of the text.
  • Read a variety of interesting texts from an array of writers with a range of purposes. For example: fiction, non-fiction, magazines and newspapers.
  • Visit a library or bookshop to inspire varied reading.
  • Discuss your current or recent reads with teaching staff and peers to develop a culture where reading is at the forefront of your learning experience.
  • Read books that you enjoy and that challenge you!
  • Try reading a new genre or a book by a new author.