At Ark All Saints Academy, reading is central to the ethos and values of the school. We believe that reading helps scholars to question and develop their own sense of identity in the world around them.
In tutor time, tutors lead scholars through books specially selected to encourage critical literacy. Scholars also read their own books in the morning with their Pastoral Directors, and can use the library to find books that they love and that are appropriate for their reading level and age. English teachers also have a dedicated time of the week to introduce scholars to new books, fostering and enthusiasm and love of reading in the classroom.
When they finish a book, scholars write reviews for display in the classroom and library of the academy, and record video blogs about books they would recommend to others in the school. They can also complete quizzes on each book to test their understanding of the content. This aids the academy in deciding what book to choose next for each group.
We have identified three literacy foci that we believe are important to improve scholars’ reading and writing skills. These strategies will initially be taught in English lessons, but we recognise that they will have a higher impact on scholars' progress if they are reinforced across the curriculum. These strategies are used to support the literacy of all Year 7 and Year 8 scholars.
Marking for Literacy
Scholars receive grammar instruction in English lessons, yet often fail to recognise the importance of maintaining good writing skills outside of English lessons. Therefore, we have designed a 'marking for literacy' component for the whole school, where staff across the curriculum must set and mark at least three pieces of extended writing per year.
Many of our scholars have weak vocabularies when they come to Ark All Saints Academy. To address this, we have devised a system for developing scholars’ vocabularies in lessons other than English. We have selected 20 words that teachers across the curriculum will teach to their scholars. Each subject teaches three of these words over the course of the academic year. The words have been chosen because they can be used in any subject, though some subjects may have preferences (e.g. Maths may wish to teach the word ‘calculate’ because of its relevance and regular use in maths lessons).
Summary writing is an extremely useful skill and is becoming more important for the new GCSE English specification. Scholars in Year 7 will be taught how to write a summary in English lessons early on in September. They will be told three strategies for summarising, which have been personified into the cartoon character ‘Summary Man’. To reinforce this skill, teachers of all subjects ask scholars to write summaries.