Literacy

The future success of all our students rests predominantly on their ability to become proficient and fluent readers. - Alex Quigley

Literacy is fundamental to student development and the achievement of a rich and fulfilling life. We use literacy skills every day to communicate with, and make sense of, the world around us and so we believe that every student deserves the right to communicate fluently, confidently and with ease. Improvements in literacy can have a positive impact on students’ self-esteem, behaviour, motivation and attainment. Furthermore, literacy plays a crucial role in helping students to express themselves clearly orally, in writing and it enriches teaching and learning in all subjects.

Good standards of literacy help students to:

  • Feel like a success rather than a failure;
  • Feel calm and confident rather than anxious;
  • Feel proud and knowledgeable rather than feel shame;
  • Be fully involved in everyday life rather than socially excluded;
  • Face an increase in opportunities rather than lower earnings, poorer housing, poorer health and a lower life expectancy.
  • Experience achievement in all aspects of the curriculum and improve chances of success in examinations.

We have an important opportunity to have a long-lasting impact on the culture of reading in our schools as we recognise that “engagement in reading is strongly correlated with reading performance” and that “reading practices can play an important role in reducing the gap between the reading proficiency scores of students from different socio-economic backgrounds’. (OECD).

Reading habitually and seeing reading as a pleasurable, fulfilling and motivating activity matters. Put succinctly, 14-year-olds who read often and independently know 26% more words than those who never read. - Alex Quigley
  • Literacy at The Four Stones MAT

    At The Four Stones MAT, we have a shared responsibility for the development of literacy skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening – as we know that they underpin the way that students access the curriculum and the knowledge they need to continue to progress and deepen their understanding. We view being literate as a matter of social justice, so we follow a number of protocols to ensure it remains a priority in all subjects.

    Our aims are to ensure that all students:

    • Have the ability to access a wealth of knowledge in different forms;
    • Are excellent communicators – both in spoken and written form;
    • Acquire a wide range of vocabulary, grammatical and linguistic knowledge;
    • Appreciate our rich and varied heritage;
    • Write clearly and coherently for a range of contexts, audiences and purposes;
    • Thrive academically – both at school and beyond.
  • Our vision for reading

    Reading underpins everything that our students do. Schools in the Four Stones MAT believe that our students are entitled to become competent, resilient and fluent readers by equipping them with a range of skills and strategies, promoting reading of challenging texts and developing an appreciation of a wealth of literature to build upon their cultural capital. Evidence suggests that children who read every day not only perform better in tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. A recent Department for Education study showed that there “is a difference in reading performance equivalent to just over a year's schooling between young people who never read for enjoyment and those who read for up to 30 minutes per day.” As an academy, we recognise the importance of reading and expect that every student should be reading every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. Whilst we encourage students to read texts linked to their own interests, we believe that greater gains are achieved in developing knowledge, vocabulary and resilience when they step outside their comfort zone and engage with more challenging texts.

  • Our approach to reading

    We focus on approaches that have the greatest benefits: whole class reading where the teacher reads a section of the text and all members of the class are expected to read aloud. We also use the following reading protocols in tutorial and all subject lessons that reading takes place:

    • Before reading: discuss context, text type / purpose for reading, key vocabulary.
    • Number each line of the text to make it easy to refer to specifics.
    • Use a ruler to follow the text.
    • Pause the reading at key points and use the cold-calling approach to question the text.
    • Sound out (“I say, you say”) and discuss unfamiliar vocabulary.
    • Encourage / model fix-it strategies.
    • Teacher reads aloud to model expressive reading and use of the reading protocols.
    • Students read aloud.
    • After reading: summarise and question the text.
  • The importance of reading aloud
    Reading aloud is an advertisement for reading. - Jim Trelease – Read-Aloud Handbook

    Why read aloud?

    Hearing stories read aloud strengthens speaking, listening, writing, reading and comprehension skills. It increases vocabulary, helps students appreciate the beauty and rhythm of language, enhances imagination and observation skills, improves critical and creative thinking skills, expands a student’s general knowledge and understanding, develops positive attitudes towards books as a source of pleasure and information and helps to create life-long readers.

    At The Four Stones MAT, we model good reading to our students by reading aloud with expression and enthusiasm. Before asking students to read aloud, we reinforce that they are in an environment where it is okay to make mistakes. To support students when reading new words, we introduce new vocabulary using an “I say, you say” model and display the vocabulary on the board.

    We request that all students read aloud. Rather than allowing students to opt out, we use a range of strategies to support reluctant and/or struggling readers as we know that good literacy skills are an important part of students’ lives beyond school. We are persistent yet supportive in our approach by reducing the amount to be read for some students, providing one-to-one support, modelling fix-it strategies and being patient and encouraging. Regular praise is an important part of this process to give students the confidence to read again.

  • Tutor reads

    Tutor reads take place twice a week during tutorial. Our books have been carefully selected by teachers across the different subject areas so that they are challenging, engaging and give students the opportunity to learn about a range of topics and themes as well as read books from a variety of authors and time periods. Alongside each book, students have access to an accompanying booklet and introductory material to contextualise their reading.

    During tutorial, tutors complete one or more of a number of activities before reading. These activities include: discussing the context of the book, recapping prior reading and introducing/recapping key vocabulary.

    When reading as a class, tutors model the reading to students to demonstrate what high-quality expressive reading looks like. Whilst reading, tutors pause to discuss and question the text. As part of the session, students are asked to read aloud to build their confidence, fluency and to enable tutors to support their reading.

    Students follow the text with a ruler so that they are fully engaged with the text. We believe that there are a number of benefits to students using a ruler to track the text. These include: taking an active part in reading; listening carefully to the reading of the teacher / a peer and knowing where to pick up from when the next reader is selected and reading every sentence and word carefully to gain a full appreciation of the text’s meaning as a whole. Additionally, it gives our tutors the opportunity to see which students are struggling by identifying those who are unable to keep up.

    When introducing new vocabulary, teachers use the “I say, you say” model so that the new vocabulary is modelled to students, so that students recognise the correct pronunciation and to provide students with the opportunity to speak and hear the new vocabulary aloud. Whilst reading, tutors model fix-it strategies to support pronunciation and provide further models, as required.

    After reading, tutors summarise and question the text. This is a crucial part of the reading process as it enables the tutor and students to explore the text further together, to ask important questions in relation to themes, topics and characters and it consolidates students’ knowledge and understanding of what they have read.

    Click here for an overview of the texts across The Four Stones MAT.

    Click here for an overview of the texts at Haybridge High School.

    Click here for an overview of the texts at King Charles I School.

    Click here for an overview of the texts at The De Montfort School.

    Each week, students will complete reading homework (30 minutes each day). The basis of this reading homework will be reading their tutor read book. Students will read according to a schedule each week e.g. reading pages 1-49 in week one. If students complete the allocated reading before the end of the week, they are encouraged to read an independent reading book from their own collection or school/town library. Students should add their reading to their reading log which will be checked weekly by their tutor. The reading log acts as a motivator for students as they see their list grow.

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Text Choices

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