At St Cuthbert's Catholic High School we address Literacy in a cross-curricular way driven by the Learning Lead for Literacy, Mrs Carney.
To support the school’s literacy drive, in the past five years, all staff have attended INSET training, which has focused on a variety of cross-curricular literacy issues, including oracy, reading, writing across the curriculum and marking for spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG).
Oracy: The need to promote confidence in Spoken English is addressed in schemes of learning. In order for students to fully engage in their learning, it is important for them to articulate their ideas and to listen to the ideas of others in order to further develop their knowledge, understanding and opinions across a range of topics.
Reading: Creating a reading culture is very much at the forefront of our whole school ethos. Year 7 in particular benefit from the many advantages of the Accelerated Reader scheme, which promotes a love of books and reading, along with continually testing and monitoring understanding of vocabulary, character, setting and theme. The recently refurbished school LRB (Library) is a hub of activity as a learning resource base and an excellent environment, in which students can read quietly for pleasure and to engage in private study. The school librarian is on hand both before and after school, as well as at lunchtime, to assist students with the selection of their books and the activities they are completing.
To encourage a love of reading, the recent introduction of ERIC time (Everyone Reading in Class) sees students in all year groups sharing extracts from age appropriate novels with their form tutor. This takes place on a Monday during form period and ensures that the students begin each week engaged in a reading activity. The focus for this session is reading for enjoyment with form tutors acting as positive role models for their students by reading for pleasure, discussing the extracts read and encouraging students to actively engage with texts.
This academic year, the purchase of MyOn, an on-line library of books, has meant that all students are able to read a wide selection of books on-line. Although in its embryonic stage, it is clear that this will be an invaluable source of enjoyment and knowledge to students.
To measure progress in reading, Year 7 students complete a termly reading age test which enables their reading ability to be monitored closely and for intervention to be put in place where necessary. This has recently been extended to include students in all year groups.
Writing across the curriculum: The recent introduction of The Big Write ensures that all students are completing at least one piece of extended writing every term in all curriculum areas. Whole school INSET has taken place in order to introduce all staff to the differing literacy levels of students, so they are able to support students in their writing tasks, by actively encouraging them to incorporate elements of technical accuracy closely linked to their literacy level.
All teachers work to a whole school policy of “marking for literacy” in which written work is marked for both its content and its accuracy in spelling, punctuation and grammar. There is an annual audit/scrutiny of exercise books to monitor this and every Curriculum Leader must look for this when undertaking their regular work scrutiny.
Key Stage 2 to 3 transition
There is a strong link between Key Stage 2 and 3 in terms of the national agenda and its focus on improving students’ understanding and application of spelling, punctuation and grammar. The Learning Lead for Literacy has experience of teaching in both KS1 and KS2 and has attended INSET designed for the primary phase. Furthermore, visits have been made to feeder primary schools to observe literacy lessons and we are about to engage in a collaborative project with a number of local schools, aimed at investigating the best approaches to use when developing the technical accuracy of our students. The explicit teaching of SPAG has now become a major focus in English at Key Stage 3 with the introduction of focused activities designed to improve students’ accuracy in spelling, punctuation and grammar. These are also implicit in lessons to provide students with an opportunity to apply their skills when writing independently.