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Literacy

Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.

Barack Obama

We aim to deliver a curriculum that enables all students to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution by continually enhancing whole-school literacy so that it supports understanding and communication. We explicitly teach literacy in all subject areas by teaching pupils/students what reading, writing and oracy look like in each discipline and promote a strong reading culture across the whole school, including staff.

When students join us in Year 7 or part way through the year in Year 8 or 9 they will complete a set of assessments which, combined with any Key Stage 2 data from their primary school, allow class teachers to best support them in lessons. Our English and Drama teachers also share feedback specifically around reading, spelling, writing, speaking and handwriting across Year 7-11 so that we can make sure that all students are appropriately supported in these areas. There are a number of pages in our planners which focus on literacy and we regularly review the planner content.

These assessments are:

The CAT (Cognitive Ability Tests) which include verbal, non-verbal, quantitative and spatial awareness

The NGRT (New Group Reading Test) which is an adaptive test and looks at reading comprehension

The NGST (New Group Spelling Test) which is also an adaptive test and looks at spelling skills

More information on each of these assessments can be found on the GL Assessments website at: https://www.gl-assessment.co.uk/

Vocabulary

We have a whole school focus on vocabulary with teachers using three key strategies to explicitly teach students vocabulary – you can hear more about these strategies in our ‘Building a Love of Reading’ video below.

  1. Choral repetition – the teacher introduces a new word and students repeat it back as a group to build confidence. The teacher might highlight challenging parts of the word to say
  2. Morphology and Etymology – breaking a word down into its parts and looking at the history behind a word. The teacher might also highlight challenging parts of the word to spell
  3. Word difficulty spectrum – taking a list of vocabulary and deciding which words are easier to understand than others. The teacher might also discuss how words appear in different contexts and how they might have multiple meanings

Building a Love of Reading

Reading

Read Aloud (Year 7 & 8)

Students in Year 7 and 8 participate in our Read Aloud programme twice a week during form time. Form tutors will read aloud from a book that they and every student in the form group have a copy of so that they can follow along. The evidence suggests that this is a great way of modelling speaking and allows students to experience a text as a group.

Library

Our school library has hundreds of books that are available for students to borrow, and also acts as an after school study space. Students can complete a loyalty card and join our ‘wall of fame’ to show their love of reading.

Students are also able to access the Library Catalogue, where they can search for books and other resources.

Opening times: Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm

Please note that the Library is closed for lunch between 1.00pm and 1.15pm.

World Book Day

Every year we celebrate World Book Day in March with a variety of events throughout the day, including teachers sharing their favourite books and book stalls available around the school.

Top tips for Reading Together 

  • Encourage your child to borrow books from the school library, or from your local East Riding Library 
  • You can sign up to your local library here: https://www.eastriding.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/ 
  • You can also download the free BorrowBox app if you have signed up to your local library which has ebooks and audiobooks available for free 
  • Try looking up any words your child is not sure about the meaning of on dictionary.com or etymonline.com (where you can find out about the history of a word) 
  • Try sounding out any words that are challenging to predict, it is likely that your child did phonics in primary school and you can find a reminder of the key ideas around decoding in reading here: What is Phonics? Parent Guide | ReadwithPhonics.com 
  • Discuss what is happening in the book – simple questions like who, when, why, what, where, how can be useful as well as discussing how the characters might feel in a given situation 

Additional Support

We aim to accurately identifying gaps in, or barriers to learning, so that we provide timely and effective support for students through teaching and targeted intervention. Using various diagnostic tests we are able to provide bespoke support both in school and via online resources for students to use at home.

If you think your child would benefit from any of the following support and is not already on the relevant support programme please contact our SENDCO: katherine.jones@southhunsley.org.uk

Support with Reading

We have Guided Reading Groups where students spend one tutor time session per week, for 10 weeks, completing an extra reading comprehension session with one of our trained Teaching Assistants. In these sessions they will be part of a small group (no more than five students) and they will read their selected book together and discuss what is happening in the book. To further support their progress we would also recommend that you read with your child at home, ideally for at least 1 hour per week. This could include fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as news articles or other texts. Whilst specifically targeted at improving reading we also hope that these sessions will support progress in their literacy skills. After 10 weeks students will be reassessed to see if we need to continue with the additional support.  

Support with Spelling

Students have access to the IDL Literacy Software, an online programme which allows students to work at their own pace through a series of mini lessons designed to improve their spelling skills. Some students may be invited to join a group in a computer room one form time a week to access this programme with additional support from trained Teaching Assistants.

Support with Speaking

We have student mentors in Year 10 and 12 who work with our Year 7, 8 and 9 students through the online programme ‘Chatta’. The programme allows students to create storyboards and record audio, before listening back and improving their stories. They will then write these up to be put in an electronic book of short stories where they are the authors. English and Drama teachers can nominate students for this programme to support them with their speaking skills.

Support with Writing

If a student has been identified through our baseline writing assessment in English lessons in Year 7 and 8 as needed additional support with writing they will receive an access code for the online programme ‘Pobble’ which helps students to develop their creative writing skills. Pobble has a different writing prompt every day with extra scaffolding through story starters and questions to help students write more confidently.

Support with Handwriting

If a concern with handwriting has been identified then students will be given a handwriting book to complete, along with the following instructions. even if your child has not been given a handwriting book the guidance here might be helpful to ensure their writing is clear and legible.

Consistency: Choose one handwriting style. Printed, cursive writing or joined up writing are all handwriting styles. It is a choice. What matters is legibility and speed. Cursive writing, if not done right, can affect readability. It is also not always the fastest handwriting style. 
Practical: Make sure you write on lined or squared paper (you should use your purple book!). It really helps letter legibility. Work that is uneven and not sitting on a line can be difficult for the eye to scan and read. 
Suitability: Picking the perfect pen. Pens come in different shapes and styles. Most are ergonomically designed. These contours help the fingers feel comfortable when writing. Biro, fibre tip, gel or ink can make a difference to handwriting legibility. You need to find the one you like. And it doesn’t have to be the most expensive pen. 
Performance: Staying up late. Research has proven that when we are tired we write faster. And this affects handwriting legibility. If you are tired when you go to school or when you do an exam your handwriting quality will be affected. 
Encourage: Everything is possible. It takes weeks for a habit to change. Handwriting can be improved. But there will be no overnight success. You need to accept that improving your writing style is a strategic move. There are no quick fixes. Don’t give up! I’ve heard teachers tell people there is no point in teaching handwriting after the age of 9. This is totally untrue. Whatever your age, it is possible to improve handwriting. Because we are not seven years old our brains are not so adaptable. It might take longer. But it is achievable. 

If a concern with handwriting has been identified then students will be given a handwriting book to complete, along with the following instructions. even if your child has not been given a handwriting book the guidance here might be helpful to ensure their writing is clear and legible.
– Sit at a table in an appropriate position for handwriting. 
– Leave a consistently sized space of 1.5-2 centimetres between words. 
– Write capital letters and digits in a size that matches the size of any lowercase letters. 
– Write with letters that are all a similar size. 
– Lower case letters without long ascenders should be about half the height of the space between lines; upper case letters should almost touch the line above.  
– The letter ‘i’ should be dotted with a single small point, as should full stops.  
– Keep your writing lines horizontal and keeping the space between lines parallel and consistent. Write on the line and not above it. 
– Keep the downstrokes of your writing upright and parallel. 
– Make sure that descenders of one line do not touch the ascenders of the line below. 
– Decide whether or not to use joined up handwriting and be consistent in this choice. 
– Begin writing each line about a centimetre to the right of the margin. Be consistent with this distance on each line, apart from new paragraphs, which should leave a three-to-four-centimetre gap. 

Support with Dyslexia

We work closely with Dyslexia Sparks, a local charity, who run training sessions for teachers and Teaching Assistants to ensure the best possible provision in the classroom for our students with Dyslexia. Our three key vocabulary strategies are targeted at the barriers that dyslexic students may face in terms of phonological awareness, memory and self-esteem. All students with dyslexia have access to the IDL Literacy Software (details above in the ‘Support with Spelling’ section) and the Pobble Creative Writing Programme (details about in the ‘Support with Writing’ section). If you think your child would benefit from access to any of the other programmes mentioned here please contact our Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Literacy: helen.savory@southhunsley.org.uk  

Additional Literacy Support

English as an Additional Language

A number of our students are bilingual which we recognise as an incredible skill, and something they should be proud of and encouraged to share. Students who experience another language at home or speak another language are described as speaking ‘English as an Additional Language’. When students join us in Year 7 or part way through a year we carry out an assessment designed by EALStar to determine a level of proficiency in English, the majority of our students are then described as being ‘fluent’ in English but we then have additional support available for any that might need this.

Where possible we aim to be able to support students with taking a language GCSE in their first or home language. Students will be approached in Year 9 about this and can often take the GCSE a year early at the end of Year 10. If you have any questions about this please contact christina.savage@southhunsley.org.uk (Subject Leader Modern Foreign Languages)

Our EAL Department developed a comprehensive action plan which outlines the key principles that we as a school abide to support our EAL learners. You can access the document by clicking here.

Reading is one of the strongest indicators of future earnings. Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

OECD 2002 – Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure