Literacy and Oracy Strategy 2022-2023

Literacy mission statement

‘Literacy is fundamental not only within our knowledge curriculum, but also in the building of moral, social and cultural capital. Championing excellence in literacy is the responsibility of everyone at Honywood School in order to ensure the future successes of all learners in school and in later life.’

Reading is such an essential skill in school because it provides the gateway to our curriculum, but the importance of reading far outreaches the classroom. Being able to read confidently is key to being a successful learner in all other areas of life. The statistics around the impact of low literacy skills are shocking. For example, those with low literacy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than those who can read beyond the most basic of levels.  Sadly, as many as 1 in 6 adults in England have ‘very poor literacy skills’, hence the promotion of reading must always remain pivotal within in any school's priorities. We are dedicated to successfully delivering an effective literacy programme in all areas of the curriculum. All learners have a right to be competent readers, writers and communicators in order to reach their academic potential and be successful in their futures.

Honywood School is committed to raising the standards of literacy for all of our learners. We do this through seven key strands;

  1. We prioritise ‘disciplinary literacy’ across the curriculum so that in each subject learners are taught how to read, write and communicate effectively in their subject. 
  2. We provide targeted vocabulary in every subject to help learners access and use academic language, prioritising the explicit teaching of tier 2 and 3 vocabulary. 
  3. We develop learners' ability to read academic texts by encouraging them to actively engage with what they are reading and using their prior knowledge to develop their reading comprehension.
  4. We break down complex writing tasks and provide explicit instruction in how to improve writing in every subject.
  5. We combine writing instruction with reading in all subject areas because both skills support the development of the other.
  6. We provide opportunities for structured talk because oracy is a powerful driver of learning.
  7. We provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling learners, by carrying out reading age tests and other assessments to match learners to appropriate support. 

All staff contribute to this in their daily teaching and learning, and learners can expect to be exposed to effective teaching and reinforcement of these skills around the school.

Reading in the curriculum

The following texts form the foundation for the English literature curriculum. We encourage all learners to engage fully in these texts to provide a well rounded introduction to academic literature, and also to promote all learners' moral and social capital.

LS5 Learning Group Time Reading 

At least one LS5 session per week is allocated to reading during ‘Drop everything and read’ time (DEAR) or ‘Drop everything and listen’ time (DEAL). In term 1, learners across all cohorts read a text of their choice to help them develop vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills. In terms 2 and 3, we shift to ‘Drop everything and listen’ (DEAL) time, as we want to ensure all learners are able to access the reading during Learning Group time, and because listening can support crucial skills necessary for improving reading. We have chosen a key text for each Cohort for each of Term 2 and 3. For example, in the Spring term Cohort 7 are reading ‘Wonder’, Cohort 8 are reading ‘The Book Thief’, Cohort 9 are reading ‘Maladapted’, Cohort 10 are reading ‘The Fault in our stars’ and Cohort 11 are reading ‘1984’. 

Learners are awarded an achievement point for engaging well in reading during LS5. In addition, any learner who is ‘caught in the act of reading’ in or around school during social time is awarded 2 achievement points - they could be reading at break or lunch in the main hall, on the school field or in the school library. 

'Reading for success' - Literacy intervention programme

Across all subject areas and in every learning session, staff highlight the tier 2 and 3 vocabulary needed to access their learning in the subject. This targeted vocabulary support helps all learners to be able to access and use academic language in their learning. Key vocabulary is shared with parents and carers for each topic area studied prior to the start of each term.

It is essential that we provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling learners, by carrying out reading age tests and other assessments to match learners to appropriate support. All KS3 learners are assessed using NGRT reading age assessments. From this, all teachers are fully informed of the learners’ reading ages and so can stretch, challenge and scaffold literacy appropriately during learning sessions.

The SEND department use assessment and multiple interventions to support learners identified to be struggling with literacy. The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension assessments (YARC) is used to identify and measure the processing difficulties that impact on reading. YARC measures single word reading skills, but in addition, reading fluency, reading accuracy and reading comprehension.  Where difficulties with reading processing are identified, learners are then placed on intervention where appropriate and assistive technology is employed, for example: Electronic reader (this has options to read whole text or highlighted information/words), Colour tint (this can be placed on the iPad and has a wide range of hues or tints), Dictate mode on Word (this has an exceptionally accurate dictation feature).  Interventions for learners where phonic skills are not yet established (profound reading difficulties) are put on either Toe by Toe, WASP or HORNET interventions. These are all evidenced based interventions that are delivered at a high frequency (4 to 5 times each week for 10 mins). Learners with moderate reading difficulties are supported by the use of the IDL literacy intervention programme and/or reading comprehension activities to support literacy development.

Developing our physical and virtual Library

This year we are further developing our library. Shortly, all learners will be able to choose from over 3000 books in our library and borrow these books using our ‘Abracadabra’ library loan service. This is going to be run by the learners, for the learners, at break and lunch time. Learners will be able to see the books available online. Learners who engage in reading during social time in the library will earn an achievement point each day.

Libraries should have a ratio of at least 10 books for every learner, and so we are nearly
half way there in ensuring that our physical library meets this criteria. We appreciate everyone’s support in donating books so far in order to provide this valuable resource for our school. If anyone has any good quality books or are willing to contribute financially to increasing our library stock, we would really appreciate your support.

In addition, all learners will, from January, be able to access the SORA app and access a wide range of ebooks at their fingertips via their iPads. We feel that this is so important to make reading at home and in school as accessible as possible, as we know that a learner who does not enjoy reading just has not found the right book yet. 

Spelling, punctuation and grammar

In English, SPaG is taught explicitly throughout the curriculum. Raising the standards of extended written communication is a key focus of our whole-school literacy programme moving forward. We have high expectations of spelling, punctuation and grammar at Honywood, and this is reflected in our feedback policy across all subject areas.

Oracy & Public Speaking - Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge

Each year a group of Cohort 10 learners participate in a Speak Out Challenge run by the Jack Petchey Foundation. The learners use the skills they have acquired during the day of workshops to deliver a presentation that they have prepared. Learners are encouraged, not only to stand up and speak in front of their peers, but to also consider their body language, changing tone and facial expressions whilst doing so. Each year our learners astound their peers with the difficult and personal topics that they tackle. This is linked to the speaking requirement of the AQA GCSE English Language examination. 

TREE Awards

As part of the KS3 character development programme (TREE Awards), learners are encouraged to engage in opportunities which help them to develop and share their love of reading. For example, as part of their bronze award, they are required to read a chapter of a book to their class. 

Promoting reading in school and at home

We know reading is an essential skill in school and in life, and strong literacy is a key indicator for future success. We will do all we can to promote reading in all aspects of your child's school life. We ask that all parents and carers do their best to support their reluctant reader at home. 

 Why encourage your reluctant reader?

  • 1 in 6 adults in England struggle to read.
  • 15.9% of all 16 to 24 year-olds are not in education, employment or training; Literacy is a big factor in this.
  • 10 to 16 year-olds who read for pleasure, do better at school.
  • Reading books is the only out-of-school activity for 16-year-olds demonstrably linked to securing managerial or professional jobs.
  • There is overwhelming evidence that reading and understanding texts has a significant relationship to people’s life chances, and can even extend their life.

Please read our Headlines articles that are linked below to keep up to date with our Literacy work this year.