Literacy

We recognise effective communication skills unlock learning for our young people. Alongside our drive to improve reading we focus technical accuracy and quality of writing. All subjects across the academy have a commitment to improve writing. Our students are encouraged to develop their written accuracy through the Written Accuracy Campaign in English and our spelling programme in VMG. We emphasise in all subject areas that it is never acceptable to make the same errors year after year. We are teaching and reinforcing the need for our students to maintain good habits in their written work. Furthermore, we focus written voice empowering students to use ambitious vocabulary by making every lesson a verbally enriched environment, where use of sophisticated, academic vocabulary is encouraged and praised.

Writing

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and to engage your reader. As such, written accuracy is essential and it is essential to recognise that it is not acceptable to continue to make the same errors year after year.

How can written accuracy be improved?

Always strive for accurate expression. Every piece of work should be checked for basic errors and also for opportunities to improve expression and develop ideas. Where possible, ask someone to read over your work to help you to identify inaccuracies and challenge you to develop your ideas.

  • Check that sentences have been used properly (capital letter to start and punctuation at the end)
  • Incorporate imaginative use of vocabulary
  • Use the Literacy pages in the planner to support accurate written expression

There are some common errors which lots of people seem to struggle with and these have been identified by English Department as the ‘Top Ten’. The aim is to ensure that everyone is able to use the following list of language features accurately and reliably which will dramatically improve the accuracy of written expression. It is important to learn the rules rather than simply guess which is the appropriate choice!

  • was/were
  • your/you’re
  • there/their/they’re
  • been/being
  • possessive apostrophe
  • its/it’s
  • sat/sitting
  • stood/standing
  • plural – ys and ies
  • contractions

Spelling

Anxiety about spelling is one of the major barriers to confident writing. However, it is a barrier that with practice and patience can be broken down to produce a confident communicator. Our aim is to promote the value of accurate spellings and the impact it can have on their writing. The ‘Dirty Thirty’ identifies commonly misspelt words which many people struggle with.

The Student Planner includes pages to record any words that are causing difficulties. If a few spellings were learnt every week, it would have a dramatic long-term effect on writing.

VMG Literacy

During our VMG sessions each week, students take part in activities that focus spelling, reading and improving vocabulary.

The activities:

  • Re-visit and deepen understanding of common prefixes, suffixes and root words.
  • Teach new, sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Explicitly teach rules that give students the confidence to spell complex words.

Reading

Many children leave primary school with fairly proficient reading skills. However, reading as a ‘life skill’ requires so much more than this. A modern day curriculum requires students to be able to access increasingly more complex texts as a means of achieving qualifications in a variety of subject areas.

How can reading be improved?

  • Ask questions about the text: Why? How? What might happen next?
  • Read regularly – 30 minutes a day!
  • Read with another person and then discuss the text
  • Read a variety of interesting texts e.g. fiction and non-fiction, magazines, newspapers
  • Visit a library or book shop to inspire varied reading
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