What is Literacy?
Literacy is our ability to read, write, speak and listen to a high standard. We need it so that we can confidently access the world around us and make an effective contribution as an active citizen.
Literacy skills are essential in ensuring that we achieve our full potential, not just in English Language and Literature GCSEs but across all of the subjects we are studying.
Our key priorities to support the development of learners’ literacy skills at ACE Academy are:
- Promoting the importance of reading for pleasure and providing opportunities to demonstrate that students can read widely and appropriately in line with their chronological age.
- That staff explicitly teach and feedback on Literacy skills linked to reading, writing and communication appropriate to their subject area. Staff will also mark work for SPaG and provide feedback to learners on how to develop the accuracy of their written communication and their vocabulary.
To support the development of our pupils’ literacy skills we have a programme of fortnightly Literacy Foci which run across the academic year. In form time these foci are used in conjunction with ‘Thought for The Week’ to provide engaging and interesting opportunities for reading, writing, speaking and listening activities.
Reading for Pleasure
“Reading for pleasure is the single biggest factor in success later in life, outside of an education. Study after study has shown that children who read for pleasure are the ones who are most likely to fulfil their ambitions. If your child reads- they will succeed - It’s that simple." Author Bali Rai
At ACE we understand that reading for pleasure is one of the most effective things that a young person can do to boost their progress and improve their achievements at GCSE and beyond.
For this reason we have a strong focus on reading and we recommend that our pupils to read for pleasure for at least 20 minutes a day.
To support this and provide opportunities for reading, students across Years 7-11 are expected to read for homework for 20 minutes, 3 times a week. Students also read as part of Everyone Reads In Class time during the first 5 minutes of form time every day.
Pupils are expected to complete a reading diary charting their progress and enjoyment of texts they have been reading. They are also expected to record any new and unfamiliar words they have come across, look up their meanings using a dictionary and then use the word in their own sentence.
Literacy Testing- Reading and Spelling Ages
We test students on a termly basis in order to establish their reading and spelling age. This is conducted through the use of a standardised electronic test on www.literacyassessment.co.uk.
Pupil’s reading and spelling ages are used by teachers to plan differentiation for their needs. They are also used to plan specific interventions so that progress is in line with age related expectations. It is our aim that students have a reading age if 15+ by the time they reach Year 11.
Reading and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) though the English Curriculum
In English lessons students have a weekly SPaG and Reading skills based lesson where they are given the opportunity to visit the school library and can access appropriate books matched to their reading age.
In these lessons they target particular skills that require development and complete a range of practice exercises to develop the accuracy of their spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Every week pupils have a spelling test. The spelling list of words to learn is published via Class Charts and pupils are expected to revise these words for at least 20 minutes twice a week as homework.
Literacy across the Curriculum
Teachers across subject areas support the development of Literacy skills by:
- Making clear to students what specific reading, writing, speaking and listening skills they are using within their lessons and how to develop them.
- Working with pupils on deconstructing the genre, audience, purpose and language features of text types pupils need to be able to read and produce.
- Providing access to scaffolding/joint construction and other means of differentiation to enable progress.
- Providing specific feedback on the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills they are using within their lessons.
Teachers also develop pupils written Literacy through marking work for SPaG. There are posters around school which outline our expectations in terms of presentation and show pupils how their work will be marked for Literacy.
Teacher will highlight any errors in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar using the appropriate codes and pupils will then be expected to correct their work, ensuring they do not make the same errors going forward.
Having accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar is very important, as most subjects have a percentage on their examinations that is awarded for the accuracy of written communication. In recognition of this, on a half termly basis pupils complete SPaG self-assessments across their subject areas and evaluate what they need to improve.
How you can support your child to develop their Literacy
Talk about the importance of reading with your child. Show them that you are a reader too- provide access to different reading materials at home, visit the local library together. Discuss what your child is reading with them and ask them questions to sharpen their understanding of how the text has been organised and structured as well as what the text is about. Talk to them about how the language, form, structure and content relate to either the author’s purpose or the effect on the audience.
Schedule regular time for reading. Research suggests that pupils who read for at least 20 minutes a day will perform better at school and have better outcomes in life (qualifications, jobs) than those who don’t. Read with your child every day and make it part of your routine.
- Find, or create a comfortable space in which to read.
- Take turns to read. Discuss what you are reading and choose books together. Challenge them in their choices and interpretations. Encourage them to read widely, both fiction and non-fiction. To extend their understanding further you could talk to them about why they might trust or distrust the sources of information they have read.
- Be enthusiastic and positive about how important reading is and that it is fun. It is especially important that your child sees you as a role model.
- Attend book clubs, book swaps and events such as Literary Festivals where your child can see different authors talk about how they have crafted their writing or can share their opinions of what they have been reading.
For ideas on books you and your child can read visit the following websites:
- Be an audience for their writing, feedback to them on the impact their writing has had on you.
- Take an interest in what they write across different subject areas at school. Encourage them to identify and discuss the different features, style and language they are expected to use in these types of writing.
- Share newspaper, magazine articles or web texts that are written in interesting or engaging ways and explore how they might use these ideas in their own writing.
Encourage your child to write for different purposes. They could:
- Enter competitions in magazines and websites
- Write letters to family members, friends or find a pen pal.
- Keep a diary, journal or blog.
- Try to influence people through posting or emailing their reactions and ideas on current affairs and local issues. They could write to politicians or even start their own petitions.
- Create articles or content for a community, sports or other interest group newsletter or website
- Create a script for a play or film
- Write and publish critical reviews, for example, of films, video or computer games, sporting events.
- You could explore links with their reading by asking them whether and how their writing has been influenced by anything they have read.
- Encourage them to read through their work, shaping their sentences for clarity and impact and checking their accuracy.
- Help them to reflect on their writing, particularly the effect they hoped to have on the reader. Ask them to justify their writing choices and whether they thought them effective. For example, why did they choose particular vocabulary or adopt a certain tone? Discuss alternative choices they might have made and what their impact might have been.
- Find opportunities to talk with authors or journalists about their craft through writers’ websites
Speaking and Listening
- Find opportunities for them to talk at length about increasingly complicated ideas and situations, for example, explain an experiment they have done in science or a topical subject such as cyber bullying
- Help them take more account of the listener’s reaction when speaking, for example, when telling a story to a younger sibling making it exciting
- Encourage them to listen and express their opinions about local and national issues in the news.
- Encourage them to take part in activities that involve presenting to an audience, such as a school assembly, parents’ evening, at a place of worship or community centre
- Discuss topical subjects of concern with them, for example, health issues such as diet, drugs and alcohol
- Encourage them to take part in social activities to broaden their experience of using talk, for example, drama groups, making and performing music with others, taking part in voluntary or community work.
- Encourage creative work such as script writing, film making and pod casting through online writing communities or clubs
- Support taking part in master classes and enrichment activities to challenge and engage their abilities, for example, youth theatre summer schools.
- Encourage them to take part in formal debates
- Take advantage of opportunities to participate in workshops or study days organised by local theatres, colleges or universities
- Discuss the impact of different accents or dialects that can be heard in the media.