Reading & Literacy

Whole School Literacy Lead: Ms C Richards

Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy

Barack Obama

Overview of the Literacy Programme 2020-22

The Literacy Programme aims to address Literacy shortfalls and nurture a love of reading.

We had reviewed the existing Literacy Programme, and built on this, but also made significant changes to ensure greater student engagement and a more structured approach.

We put a student survey together last academic year and found that reading trends at Cove are similar to nationwide trends, but that the percentage of children who read regularly and frequently at Cove School is slightly lower than the national average.

According to the National Literacy Trust, in 2019 just 26% of under-18s spent some time each day reading.

Our survey showed that approximately 60% of our students only read in school.

What we have in place

Key Stage 3

  • Reading a book of fiction three times a week in morning and afternoon registration time. (Details below)
  • One morning registration time working on the Literacy Booklet. (Details below)

The Literacy Booklet

We began with a Literacy booklet that looked specifically at vocabulary. The rationale here is that research shows that students struggle to understand GCSE texts and exam questions because many do not have a wide vocabulary and struggle to even guess unfamiliar words.

The booklet begins with Greek and Latin root words as over 60% of our words have Greek or Latin roots; understanding the roots will help students glean meaning from unfamiliar words as well as building on current vocabulary. This can also be an interesting departmental CPD opportunity as not all are classically trained, but using these root words at Key Stage 3 links directly into academic excellence.

The booklet contains:

  • Greek and Latin roots with tasks
  • Crosswords to consolidate new vocabulary
  • Word games

The booklet has to appeal to a range of abilities and interests, we found that more traditional approaches of previous booklets had very little impact on performance. Therefore, the revised approach is to have a specific focus and build on this.

Reading in Tutor Time

For the students who are happy to read this was a pleasurable activity. For reluctant readers, this was more challenging. To improve all-around engagement a Reading Log was used. This made the reading sessions more structured as teachers were able to gauge progress.

The reading log was re-introduced in November 2021.

Since the Spring Term of 2021, we have developed the reading programme at KS3.

The school invested in whole-class reading books where the tutor becomes the storyteller and students follow the reading in their copy of the book.

We encourage using a reading guide to enable students to keep more focused. We have a rota of 4 different books for each KS3 year.

This began with Year 7 and extended in the Summer Term to Year 8. This year 2021-22 Year 9 are also included.

The whole class reading is popular with students. A selection of books was recommended by our Librarian to expose students to a range of genres, and contemporary issues.

Year 7 Books

Year 7 Books

Year 8 Books

Year 8

Year 9 Books

Year 9

Each book has an accompanying PowerPoint with prompts to ensure understanding, encourage predictions and inference, enhance vocabulary and add to cultural capital.

Key Stage 4

  • Improved and updated literacy booklets for all tutor groups.
  • Use of green pens to mark books for literacy in the classroom
  • Simplied and focussed literacy curriculum priorities launched to all staff
  • Thinking Reading programme phase 1 completed, phase 2 training is about to begin

Literacy Booklet

The booklet for Years 10 and 11 differs from the KS3 booklet; the root words are still included as a revision exercise. The rest of the booklet is mainly short extracts from novels. There is vocabulary work for each extract and questions on explicit content to inference. Both of these are transferable skills.

Fiction reading and the Non-fiction booklet

There are four afternoons dedicated to reading, two are for fiction and two for non-fiction.

The non-fiction booklet includes newspaper and magazine articles on contemporary issues such as climate change, poverty, and child labour, They are read and used as prompts for discussion.

Marking For Literacy

We have reintroduced the marking for Literacy symbols as a whole school initiative.

This scheme addresses the primary literacy aims. By having a whole school approach, used consistently in every department, students will become more vigilant about using correct grammar and get into good habits.

Disseminating the Literacy Programme and next steps

It is important that staff feel the programme is worth investing in and that they see themselves as stakeholders; we all gain when literacy levels improve.

Although the revised Literacy Programme was put in place last year and students and staff were positive about it, the re-launch at the start of this academic year had a much stronger impact.

The INSET did much to raise the profile of literacy across the curriculum.

We have also relaunched the Marking for Literacy approach to written work across the curriculum. We are working with curriculum leaders to embed this in departments.

For Marking for Literacy to be more robust, we have also decided in LM discussions to have a focus.

For this term, common spelling errors should be addressed especially those of homophones.

Next term and for the remainder of the academic year, the focus will also include capital letters and apostrophes.

We will have a big push to eliminate these two grammatical errors.

Regular visits to form time to see how the programme is running is part of the strategy to keep momentum up.

Regular communication with teachers, and Progress Leaders is also an important factor in keeping up the momentum. It is important to have feedback from teachers and tutors and this is highly encouraged as we want to create a Literacy programme that is fit for purpose, enjoyable for both staff and students and yields results.

Whole School

Thinking Reading – Literacy Intervention

In addition to the above and running parallel to these strategies we will also be implementing the Thinking Reading approach. This programme has a number of common aspects with what is currently being established in the Literacy Programme.

Thinking Reading is a rigorous, research-based and systematic programme which allows trained staff, within the school, to assess and track the reading progress of children.

The school has completed the first phase of the consultation and will begin the staff training  element of the programme, on the 1st November.  There will be six members of staff who will be fully trained by the end of the Spring term.

All students will be screened using  ‘Literacy Assessment Online’ which the school has now purchased. It is not unusual to have approximately a third of the cohort, at this stage, to be significantly below their chronological age,  however research shows that this is largely due to ‘motivational’ reasons.  For this reason a second assessment is carried out, using NGRT and at this point the number of students in the 35th percentile is expected to reduce by 50%.

Following the second assessment all the students in the 35th percentile will complete a thirty minute, 1:1 diagnostic assessment, using ‘Probe Blue’. This assessment will identify which students need intervention. They will then be placed on bespoke programme of intensive intervention to improve their chronological reading age, over a six month period.