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Literacy Policy

Version | July 2020


Introduction

All teachers are teachers of literacy. As such, the staff of Co-op Academy Swinton are committed to developing literacy skills in all of our students, in the belief that it will support their learning and raise standards across the curriculum, because:

  • Students need vocabulary, expression and organisational control to cope with the cognitive demands of subjects
  • Reading helps us to learn from sources beyond our immediate experience;
  • Writing helps us to sustain and order thought;
  • Language helps us to reflect, revise and evaluate the things we do, and on the things others have said, written or done;
  • Responding to higher order questions encourages the development of thinking skills and enquiry;
  • Improving literacy and learning can have an impact on pupils’ self-esteem, on motivation and behaviour. It allows them to learn independently. It is empowering.

All schemes of work and most, although not all lessons, will include specific literacy objectives. These objectives will inform what is taught, how it is taught, what is learnt and how it is learnt. Literacy should also form part of lesson plenaries when it is appropriate to the focus of the lesson.


Implementation at whole-school level:

Language is the prime medium through which students learn and express themselves across the curriculum, and all teachers have a stake in effective literacy.


Roles and Responsibilities:

Senior Managers: lead and give a high profile to literacy;

English Department: provide students with knowledge, skills and understanding they need to read, write and speak and listen effectively;

Teachers across the curriculum: contribute to students’ development of language, since speaking, listening, writing and reading are, to varying degrees, integral to all lessons;

Literacy Coordinator: supports departments in the implementation of strategies and encourages departments to learn from each other’s practice by sharing ideas.

Parents: encourage their children to use the range of strategies they have learnt to improve their levels of literacy;

Students: take increasing responsibility for recognising their own literacy needs and making improvements;

Governors: an identified governor could meet with staff and students and report progress and issues to the governing body and to parents in the governors’ annual report.


Key points for improving Literacy across the Curriculum:

Keep it simple, keep it consistent

  • Try to always insist on full sentences
  • Talk, model, write
  • Are you checking your work?

Use the school’s WIN marking policy to focus on students’ literacy and what they need to do to improve.

It is the responsibility of both staff and students to raise standards in literacy.

This starts with an expectation that students should respond in full sentences and in Standard English; teachers are expected to model this, to challenge poor oracy, and to provide students with the language necessary for a high-level response.

Before setting their students to write, teachers should model the process of writing: the thinking, the planning, the drafting and the editing.

Integral in developing students’ wider reading and reading for enjoyment is how teachers facilitate reading for meaning through using a range of teaching methods and approaches.

All teachers should promote high standards of literacy – whatever the teacher’s specialist subject.

(Department for Education (2012), Teachers’ Standards)
“All teachers should have a better understanding of the role literacy plays in their subject… and…[this will] enable them to understand how improved reading, writing and speaking and listening skills would help them make more progress in their own subject”

Direct teaching of reading skills such as skimming, scanning and reading for detail (including on the internet); using the index and glossary; identifying key points and making notes; summarising; or using more than one source.

Teachers must foster thinking and talking about texts by creating an environment of rich dialogue and response towards all types of text. The reading of images and film, fiction, poetry and non-fiction is vital in developing talk and response, the starting point for comprehension.

Questioning by both teachers and students is foundational in improving comprehension. It should involve the explicit exploration and development of literal, inferential and evaluative questioning.


Speaking and Listening:

We will teach students to use language precisely and coherently. They should be able to listen to others, and to respond and build on their ideas and views constructively.

We will develop strategies to teach students how to participate orally in groups and in the whole class, including: using talk to develop and clarify ideas; identifying the main points to arise from a discussion; listening for a specific purpose; discussion and evaluation.


Reading:

We aim to give students a level of literacy that will enable them to cope with the increasing demands of subjects in terms of specific skills, knowledge and understanding. This applies particularly in the area of reading (including from the screen), as texts become more demanding.

We will build on and share existing good practice. We will teach students strategies to help them to: read with greater understanding; locate and use information; follow a process or argument; summarise; synthesise and adapt what they learn from their reading. This must be planned within the scope of reading for enjoyment and tasks should engage students with the world beyond the classroom.

Teachers should clarify students’ purpose for reading. They should relate the reading to students’ lives; pre-teach concepts that might inhibit understanding; and activate or build background.

Teachers must also develop students’ toolbox of comprehension strategies such as making connections, asking questions and forecasting predictions. It could also involve previewing the text or questions related to the text so that it focuses on reading. Teachers should pre-teach vocabulary through games, along with drama, to explore and bring new language alive.

Teachers should vary the way the text is read. This could involve silent reading, bringing a text alive by reading to students, oral reading by students, audio recordings or guided reading. Teachers should do everything to avoid reading becoming a dull and slow business – and this isn’t achieved by just reading extracts, but on teacher approaches that are imaginative, innovative and lively.


Writing:

It is important that we provide for coordination across subjects to recognise and reinforce students’ language skills, through:

  • Making connections between students’ reading and writing, so that students have clear models for their writing;
  • Using the modelling process to make explicit to students how to write;
  • Being clear about audience and purpose;
  • Providing opportunities for a range of writing including sustained writing.

Each department will:

  • Teach students how to write in ways that are special to that department’s subject needs;

The text types are:

  • information;
  • recount;
  • explanation;
  • instruction;
  • persuasion;
  • discursive writing;
  • analysis;
  • evaluation;
  • formal essay

The structures and language features of some important types of non-fiction texts:

RECOUNT
Purpose: to retell events
Text structure:

  • orientation – ‘scene setting’ opening, e.g. I went to the shop…
  • events – recount the events as they occurred, e.g. I saw a vase…
  • reorientation – a closing statement, e.g. When I got back I told my mum.

Language features of recount:

  • written in the past tense, e.g. I went
  • in chronological order, using time connectives, e.g. then, next, after, that
  • focus on individual or group participants, e.g. we, I

REPORT
Purpose: to describe the way things are
Text structure:

  • an opening, general classification, e.g. Sparrows are birds.
  • more technical classification (optional), e.g. Their Latin name is…
  • a description of the phenomena, including some or all of its qualities, e.g. Birds have feathers.
  • Parts and their function, e.g. The beak is…
  • habits/behaviour or uses, e.g. They nest in…

Language features of report:

  • written in the present tense, e.g. they nest
  • non-chronological
  • focus on generic participants (birds not a particular bird)

EXPLANATION
Purpose: to explain the processes involved in natural and social phenomena or to explain how something works

Text structure:

  • general statement to introduce the topic, e.g. In the autumn some birds migrate.
  • a series of logical steps explaining how or why something occurs, e.g. Because the hours of daylight shorten…
  • These steps continue until the final state is produced or the explanation is complete

Language features of explanation:

  • written in the simple present tense, e.g. go
  • uses time connectives, e.g. then, next,
  • and/or casual connectives, e.g. because, so, this causes

INSTRUCTIONS
Purpose: to instruct how something should be done through a series of sequenced steps

Text structure:

  • goal – a statement of what is to be achieved, e.g. How to make a sponge cake
  • materials/equipment needed, e.g. 2 eggs, flour
  • sequenced steps to achieve the goal, e.g. Cream the sugar and butter.
  • often there is a diagram or illustration

Language features of instructions:

  • written in the imperative, e.g. “First you sift the flour”, or, “Sift the flour”.
  • in chronological order, e.g. first, next, after that
  • focus on generalised human agents rather than named individuals

PERSUASION
Purpose: to argue the case for a point of view

Text structure:

  • thesis – an opening statement, e.g. Vegetables are good for you
  • arguments – often in the form of point + elaboration, e.g. They contain vitamins. Vitamin C is vital for…
  • reiteration – summary and restatement of the opening position, e.g. We have seen that…so…

Language features of persuasion:

  • the simple present tense
  • focus mainly on generic participants (vegetables, not a particular vegetable)
  • mainly logical rather than time connectives, e.g. this shows, however, because

DISCUSSION
Purpose: to present arguments and information from differing viewpoints

Text structure:

  • statement of the issue + a preview of the main arguments
  • arguments for + supporting evidence
  • arguments against + supporting evidence
  • (alternatively, argument/counter argument, a point at a time)

Language features of discussion:

  • the simple present tense
  • generic human (or non-human) participant
  • logical connectives, e.g. therefore, however

Spelling Strategies:

Each department will:

  • identify and display key vocabulary;
  • revise key vocabulary;
  • teach agreed learning strategies which will help students to learn subject spelling lists;
  • concentrate on the marking of high-frequency and key subject words taking into account the differing abilities of students
  • test or revise high frequency words regularly

Monitoring and Evaluation:

We will make use of available data to assess the standards of students’ literacy. Senior Managers, the Head of English and the Literacy Coordinator, will decide how to monitor progress in the school.

Possible approaches are:

  • sampling work – both students’ work and departmental schemes;
  • observation – student pursuit and literacy teaching;
  • meetings;
  • student interviews;
  • scrutiny of development plans;
  • encouraging departments to share good practice by exhibiting or exemplifying students’ work

Including all students:

Differentiation
Co-op Academy Swinton students are entitled to our highest expectations and support. Some will need additional support and others will need to be challenged and extended. Strategies that we can use include:

  • questioning;
  • adjusting the demands of the task;
  • the use of additional support;
  • use of group structures;
  • resources;
  • making objectives clear;
  • creating an atmosphere where pupils evaluate their own others’ work.

English as an Additional Language:

Our students learning EAL need to hear good examples of spoken English and also to refer to their first language skills to aid new learning in all subjects of the curriculum. The use of their first language enables them to draw on existing subject knowledge and to develop English language skills in context. Our EAL students will be fully integrated across subjects with staff working alongside the EAL team to ensure that the student can access the curriculum.


SEN:

We will teach our students with special educational needs appropriately, supporting their learning and providing them with challenges matched to their needs, through using a range of teaching strategies such as guided group work, writing frames and oral activities. Those students in Years 7 and 8 with specific literacy difficulties will have the opportunity to join the STRIVE  learning programme for personalised basic literacy development within the SEN faculty.

All students in Year 7 with low literacy levels from primary have additional intervention from the literacy team. Staff across the school have received inference training to help the students to access their curriculum.


Pastoral Programme:

All students in every year group follow a literacy programme in morning registration time. Years 7-10 have book boxes with differentiated and age appropriate reading material to promote private reading and enjoyment of reading. Students read to their Form Tutor at least once a term. Year 10 and 11 students work on literacy booklets to improve and revise key spelling, punctuation and grammar skills in preparation for their exams.

Year 7 students with a reading age below 10.5 work in differentiated groups to boost their reading skills two mornings per week during form time. By practising guided and shared reading activities and using the IDL programme, they follow an intensive programme of intervention.


The Academy Pledge:

A pledge set by the academy for students and parents is that 95% of Year 7 students will have achieved a reading age of 10.5 or above by the end of Year 7.


Assessment:

Available data from KS2 should be used to inform planning and to assist us in responding to early pieces of work. We can also use this data to set numerical and curricular targets for each cohort.

The best assessment informs lesson-planning and target-setting and helps us to maintain the pace of learning for our students.

For detailed guidance on marking and literacy marking symbols see our Marking Policy.


Literacy Non-negotiables:

  1. Verbal responses should be extended.
  2. Key words and definitions should be used in every lesson.
  3. Use integrated quotes with detailed explanations whenever appropriate.
  4. Spelling of key subject vocabulary should be practised.
  5. Students should respond to the teacher’s marking, including marking for literacy.
  6. Students and teachers should focus on the presentation of work.
  7. Spelling, punctuation and grammar should be a main focus for all members of staff and all students.
  8. Teachers will promote the use of standard English in lessons and around school.

You can also download a PDF of this Policy here:
Literacy Policy | July 2020