Literacy is one of the most significant factors in a child’s success at secondary school.
It has repeatedly been demonstrated that more developed literacy skills can have a dramatic impact after a student leaves school.
For example, reading ability has been associated with improved health (Baker, Parker, Williams, Clark and Nurse 1997), socio-economic status (Ritchie and Bates 2013) and creativity (Ritchie, Luciano, Hansell, Wright and Bates 2012). In a review article, Cunningham and Stanovich (1998) concluded that “those who read a lot will enhance their verbal intelligence, that is, reading will make them smarter”.
Bearing all this in mind, it is vital that at HBAED we aim to develop our students’ literacy ability at much as possible.
In the recent Ofsted report on Reading, Writing and Communication, it was pointed out that the most effective schools have:
- A whole-school literacy policy
- Teachers who demonstrate understanding of, and take responsibility for, promoting high standards of literacy and the correct use of Standard English, whatever their specialist subject
- A consistent whole school marking policy which relates to literacy
- Cross-departmental strategies used to improve literacy
- Strategies for encouraging reading and a well-stocked library
- Time given to the dissemination of new literacy practice and its embedding.
Our Literacy (‘WORD’) and Oracy Policy aims to use these developments, amongst others, to improve all our students’ literacy skills and make ‘Every Child a Reader’. We use the acronym ‘WORD’, Writing, Oracy and Reading Development, as it creates awareness for students and staff of all areas of Literacy they need to be focusing on and setting high standards in.
- To raise the achievement of students at Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich through their decoding and comprehension skills, allowing them to independently access texts
- To ensure well-chosen consistent methods are used by teachers when addressing literacy across the curriculum
- To enable students and staff to recognise the importance of literacy and be able to make good choices in their reading habits
- To place literacy as a priority in the hierarchy of our schools’ and students’ educational goals
Bedrock Vocabulary is an online curriculum that children can follow at school or at home. It teaches students the academic words they need to succeed at school and beyond.
Bedrock Vocabulary is a research-based curriculum that teaches students the language they need to succeed at school. The digital vocabulary curriculum teaches through a series of multi-modal and interactive activities. The rigorous assessment feeds data back to the teacher, enabling us to easily monitor progress.
This year we have timetabled one Bedrock lesson, for Key Stage 3, into our curriculum. What that means is that every week all Key Stage 3 students will have a chance to complete their Bedrock sessions in class with the expectation that they complete at least 30 minutes at home. We award their progress during Literacy form time as well as with texts home to parents, and very high performers are rewarded at assemblies.
Students at our academy will have learnt to break down new language for themselves, explore the different roots, synonyms and antonyms of new vocabulary. Not only they have learnt new words, but they will have also acquired new learning processes as well.
Literacy and form time
At HBAED we have specifically crafted and tailored form time sessions to help Key Stage 3 and 4 students improve their literacy skills. Disciplinary Literacy and Tier 2 vocabulary is embedded throughout the lessons.
We take this opportunity to update students with any key notices from the library, any competitions and celebrate Bedrock Brilliance, allowing healthy competition amongst Key Stage 3. Students are given a Tier 2 word to focus on for the week and are encouraged to use this particular word in all their lessons.
At Key Stage 3 we focus on exposing students to key vocabulary that they will come across not just in English but also across their subjects - they have ten weekly spellings that we test them on.
At Key Stage 4 we have prioritised getting students ‘exam ready’ so students are exposed to a range of Tier 2 vocabulary which corresponds to the wording/phrasing of their exam questions. In addition to this, we have divided their session into two parts: the first part tackles cross-curricular literacy and the second part basic literacy skills.
Literacy and DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time - Years 7 and 8
Reading for pleasure is one of the greatest of human activities. It can transport you to other places and other times. It can put you in the minds of other people. It adds to your knowledge, your understanding of emotions and experiences; it builds your imaginative capabilities.
It has also been demonstrated to be one of the most effective things a student can do to raise their grades. When secondary students who didn’t read for pleasure were compared with those that did, evidence showed a difference of two whole grades at the end of Year 11 in all subjects.
Students have DEAR time once a week to explore texts they may not choose on their own. They engage in a series of guided questions and tasks whilst reading and the goal is to inspire them to ‘read for pleasure’ on a regular basis. Follow up questions explore their understanding of cultural capital and allow them to engage in a range of questions that really consolidate their understanding of the novel/extra they have read.
Example follow up questions:
- SMSC: How could what you have read today reflect on your life or the people around you in our society?
- MAKING LINKS: Does what you are reading link in any way to the ‘Thought of the Week’ from Monday’s tutor time?
- CONTENT: Are you enjoying what you are reading? What happened in your story today?
- GENRE: Are you reading fiction or non-fiction? What genre is your book? Does it conform to the rules of that genre, or does it break the rules?
- CHARACTER: If fiction, what are the characters like? Can you identify with them?
- ENGLISH SKILLS: Were there any vocabulary (word choices) that you didn’t know? If so, what were they? Does anyone in the class know what those words meant? Were there any excellent descriptive sentences in the text you read today?
Oracy at HBAED
At Harris Boys’ we value oracy as a vital tool for improving students overall Literacy. We have oracy strategies embedded into our teaching and learning. Click HERE to find our more about our Oracy Strategies: Finding Your Voice.
Literacy across the Academy
We offer a wide range of Literacy activities across the academy:
- The library runs regular competitions for students. These are advertised to students during Literacy Form Times on Tuesdays
- We also run Sci-Fi clubs for each Key Stage 3 year group, aimed to stretch students with challenging texts
- There is a Debate Club that runs each Monday after school
- We have a Role Playing Games Club that plays a variety of games to develop creative skills (character and story creation), problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and confidence
- We support the Duke of Edinburgh Volunteer programme by offering Year 9s and 10s the opportunity to volunteer to read with younger students for one hour a week during Form Times. From January 2023, 14 volunteers are supporting 28 students with their reading.
See the latest English, Library and Literacy news stories on our website.
Reading for pleasure and academic reasons is so important for a student’s intellectual development, and yet there are many distraction in the modern world that prevent reading from taking place at home. Phones, gaming consoles, streaming websites are all competing for time and attention.
At HBAED every ‘Literacy Priority’ student in Years 7 to 9 is taken by an adult to the library each half-term. They help them select a suitable book and discuss their reading with them. We then contact parents to remind them to monitor and support reading at home.
The following documents can also help support reading at home and are definitely worth a read for parents:
Please contact one of the Literacy Team should you need any support with reading at home.
As a part of the Harris Federation, we are always aiming to improve our practice. Academies in the Central Quadrant have created the following targets to focus on during the academic year 2022-23:
- For all students to have access to and read complex academic texts
- High competency oracy with structured conversations explicitly taught
- Teachers / Staff consciously model speaking in an academic framework
- Improve use of Literacy Interventions
We are refining our practice and addressing these areas throughout the academic year.
Who are the literacy team and how can a parent get in touch?
Our lead staff member for Literacy is Ms Chloe Dixon who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oversight of Literacy is provided by Mr Martin Pugh, Assistant Principal, who can be contacted at email@example.com
Our Librarian is Ms Patricia Smith who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Literacy is a basic human right"
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratisation, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, United Nations
Download our Literacy and Oracy Policy from our Teaching and Learning page.