’Literacy is the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.” Kofi Annan
Great importance is accorded to the teaching and learning of literacy within the Academy and this was recognised in the most recent Ofsted report in which the opening lines of the Main Report were: ‘The school-wide programme to develop sophisticated literacy and communication skills is particularly effective in supporting reflective discussion and debate in lessons.’
Every teacher, no matter what their subject specialism, is seen as a teacher of literacy. The Academy has an ongoing programme of professional development in which strategies for teaching literacy across subject areas are highlighted. Each faculty area has a Literacy Co-ordinator who trains their colleagues and ensures that literacy maintains a high profile.
Each term we have a Literacy Week with a specific focus which may relate to spelling, points of grammar or creative writing linked to books. These have included competitions relating to The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Book Thief and Divergent.
The promotion of a love of reading for pleasure is seen as essential across the Academy with many initiatives and events incorporating the Accelerated Reader Scheme through Renaissance Reader. Students are tested to ensure that they read books at the correct level and prizes are awarded for points earned. All Year 7 students are given a new book to take home as a Christmas gift.
The Ofsted report also noted that ‘ Robust records are kept of students’ reading. Students are guided in the choice of texts and always have their chosen text with them to use in lessons. Two Year 8 students were observed reading sophisticated texts which supported their progress in debates, discussions and in written work well. They spoke of their keenness to succeed at the regular tests of their understanding of each of their chosen texts and how their progress is monitored.’
We have a well-stocked Learning Resources Centre manned by qualified librarians and students read twice-weekly in form time. To celebrate World Book Day we have a Book Bran Tub, which operates along the lines of Secret Santa for KS3 and all staff, teaching and non-teaching. Visiting authors are a regular feature and we have had entertaining talks on writing, reading poetry and paper engineering. Our most recent World Book Day Challenge was to read 57 million words across year groups 7 to 10 before April and this was achieved with Year 7 reading an amazing 23 million words.
For those students who have lower than expected reading ages, we have five waves of intervention which range from one-to-one intensive recovery to reading mentors. Mentors in Years 9 and 10 read with Years 7 and 8 supported by a team of Sixth Form supervisors and it is very satisfying to see the supportive relationship which develops between the mentors and their readers.