At Houghton Regis Academy the development of literacy skills for all our students is of paramount importance. Reading, writing, speaking and listening are integral to students’ success in the curriculum but also, in forming well-rounded individuals who can feel confident in the world around them.
Communication, in any form, holds the key to success in life and it is for this reason the academy proudly gives all students ample opportunities to practise these important skills in all lessons. Improving literacy skills opens the door to independent working allowing students to take responsibility for their own learning and education. This ownership automatically gives students a sense of purpose and has a great impact on self-esteem, motivation, behaviour and attainment.
Houghton Regis Academy places great importance to literacy and promote literacy across the Academy in the following ways:
Everybody Reads in Class (ERIC)
The Academy promotes reading through ERIC which takes place on a weekly basis. Both staff and students stop to enjoy a book of their choice and read for pleasure. Everyone reads for twenty minutes in silence. This provides an opportunity for teachers to share their favourite books with the students.
Key words are displayed in classrooms across all subjects for students to refer to in their learning. The key words from previous units are also displayed and referred to during retrieval activities.
Each student is provided with a literacy mat which is used in all subjects to help students when they proof read their written work. The sheet has a variety of literacy information to support students when they are proof reading their work. The resource reminds students of the literacy basics in spelling, punctuation and grammar.
The English department set literacy homework across all year groups each week. Students are encouraged to find definitions of unfamiliar words that they have come across in their private reading time to help students expand student vocabulary. In addition, students will be homework to enable them to research and use literacy skills to help build their confidence in reading and writing. Foundation subjects set homework which includes a literacy aspect each fortnight.
All students participate in spelling tests which take place during form time on weekly basis. Students are given spellings to learn at home and are tested each week.
Literacy in English
During Key Stage 3, students can expect that one of their English lessons to be a literacy lesson. The literacy lesson is structured whereby students complete twenty minutes of silent reading. Following their reading they look closely at what they have read and will use the skills of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising what they have read. The literacy task is provided to the students which develops a reading, writing, speaking or listening skill. Literacy remains a focus in homework tasks. All subjects set a homework task particularly focusing on a literacy skill to promote the importance of literacy to students.
All students at the Academy sit the NGRT reading tests; NGRT is a fully adaptive, standardised, termly reading assessment. As it’s adaptive, it offers a personalised experience for each student, ensuring it’s accessible for those who are struggling and challenging for those who need to be stretched, so you can get to the root of any problems identified precisely and quickly. During each tests the questions follow will increase or decrease in difficulty which enables every learner to work within their own ability.
We test at the beginning of each academic year, and twice more during the year to check on progress.
Using the NGRT reading test data the Academy identifies students to follow the Catch Up Literacy programme which is a structured one-to-one intervention for learners to help develop their reading skills. It enables students to build their confidence when reading and make further progress in literacy. The programme uses a book-based approach to support learners in their reading of a book, so they activate both dimensions of reading – word recognition processes (including phonics) and language comprehension processes. Catch up Literacy has been endorsed by the Education Endowment Foundation, with evidence of up to four months improvement when the programme is completed.
The Academy uses a programme called ‘Reading Wise’ which follows a ten week programme of weekly 45 minute sessions in which students develop their reading and comprehension skills through an interactive programme, in which they go on a literary adventure with their guide, The Master. Students make predictions around what will happen next in a story, Summarising where the students summarise what they have just read, Word check – to check the level of understanding of the vocabulary that is being used, in addition to the traditional comprehension questions, Reading Wise has been proved to increase reading ages by up to nine months.