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Literacy Across the Curriculum

‘Lifelong literacy and learning’

At Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School we firmly believe that literacy is the foundation block of academic success.  All pupils need to be able to read, write, and talk as experts in every subject across the curriculum. These skills however are also vital for life outside of school and study.  Literacy skills help us to make sense of the world around us.

 “We learn the rule of decent behaviour from parents and teachers and friends and books.”  (The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis). 

We believe that reading, and particularly reading for pleasure, has a direct impact on cognitive and social communicative development; reading and the knowledge it brings, provides us with a stronger sense of belonging to society, enhances empathy and furnishes us with higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. 

“Reading is a way for me to expand my mind, open my eyes and fill up my heart.” – (Oprah Winfrey)

Reading for pleasure has been shown to improve health and wellbeing.  Reading has been associated with better sleeping patterns, enhanced relaxation, calmness and concentration.  Those who read regularly experience fewer feelings of stress and depression, and stronger feelings of relaxation than those gained from watching television or engaging in technology-intensive activities/social media.

Thus, it is our aim to develop each pupil’s potential and to enable students to be reading at or above their chronological age.

As a school, we:

  • Prioritise literacy skills across the curriculum
  • Teach pupils to read in specific ways in each subject
  • Explicitly teach vocabulary appropriate to each subject area to support pupils’ development of academic language
  • Develop pupils’ ability to read and access sophisticated texts
  • Provide opportunities for structured talk to enable quality written work
  • Provide high-quality literacy support for all pupils
  • Model reading for pleasure  

Improving literacy in secondary schools, Education Endowment Fund, 2019

In each of our subject areas, teachers prioritise and explicitly teach pupils the reading strategies that they need in order to be successful in the discipline.  Pupils will be taught the ‘Ilsley Super Reading Strategies’.

Ilsley Super Reading Strategies

  1. Connecting – recalling relevant prior knowledge and experiences from long-term memory in order to extract and construct meaning from text
  2. Predicting – using clues from the text or illustrations to predict what is happening/what will happen next
  3. Identifying – determining the writer’s purpose.  Finding the important details; the main idea; the themes from the text
  4.  Inferring – Bringing together explicit meaning (what is written in the text) and what is inferred (what is unwritten) in the text and what is already known by the reader in order to extract and construct meaning from the text
  5. Questioning – Checking one’s understanding of the text; pausing and asking searching questions about the text.  Asking some questions that have answers in the text. 
  6. Clarifying – Thinking aloud about how to decipher a word.  Using techniques to do this successfully; sound it out; break it down; re-read and read ahead to unlock meaning
  7. Summarising – Restating the meaning of the text in one’s own words–different words from those used in  the original text
  8. Searching – using a variety of sources in order to select appropriate information to answer questions, define words and terms, clarify misunderstandings, solve problems, or gather information.
  9. Organising – Constructing a mental image or graphic organiser for the purpose of extracting and constructing meaning from the text
  10. Evaluating – Thinking about the text and as whole and forming opinions about what you have read

Vocabulary Across the Curriculum

At Archbishop Ilsley, we are committed to empowering pupils by widening their vocabulary. We are ambitious and aspirational with regard to vocabulary acquisition. We understand the impact that vocabulary has on the quality of work, progress and the ability to express ideas and concepts. Each subject has a published vocabulary list that allows pupils to speak and write as experts. Vocabulary is tested through low-stakes quizzing in lessons and vocabulary tasks are set frequently for homework.  Vocabulary is explored fully in all subject areas. Pupils experience reading keywords in context, use new vocabulary in their written work and develop confidence with new vocabulary in speaking tasks.

Oracy Across the Curriculum

We understand the link between confident, fluent reading and confident, articulate speaking.  Opportunities for talk in the classroom are planned and deliberate. Pupils learn language across the curriculum to support their oral contribution. Opportunities exist in every subject to prepare speech through presentations, debates and discussions.

Additional Literacy Opportunities

There are many literacy enrichment activities:

  • World Book Day
  • Lunchtime Reading Club
  • Trips to the local and Birmingham Central Library
  • Team of school librarians
  • ‘Word of the Week’ during tutor time which is reinforced through curriculum time.

“Acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life.”

Kofi Annan, Seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations

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