Literacy Policy July 2013
Introduction: A new Literacy Policy for Oasis Academy MediaCityUK
The focus on literacy through both the change to Teaching Standards and through government
initiatives to raise profile of, and accountability for, achievement and progress in literacy
demonstrates the importance of literacy as a whole school issue. This new literacy policy for Oasis
Academy summarises the government policy for the various strands of literacy and indicates the
implications for leadership and teaching. The policy draws heavily on the Literacy Guide for
Secondary Schools: 2012-2013 published by the National Literacy Trust in August 2012,
What is Literacy?
For the purpose of this document when we talk about literacy we are talking about reading, writing,
speaking or listening skills. All of these skills are interlinked and an essential part of any child’s
At Oasis Academy we recognise that literacy skills are essential for young people to reach their
potential in school and fulfilling opportunities throughout life. Every aspect of a young person’s life
will incorporate literacy to some extent, especially when it comes to sitting exams in year 11.
Therefore, we need a rigorous whole-school literacy policy which is implemented systematically
across the curriculum, with all teachers regarding themselves as teachers of literacy, regardless of
their subject specialism.
All teachers must know the literacy barriers for students in their groups and adapt their teaching
Class data sheets should contain reading age as well as KS2 NC Test level for English.
For all three sections of the policy, advice and ideas are given with reference to the research and
also the policy requirements in this specific area.
Section 1: Roles and Responsibilities
1.1. Academy Leadership Team
1.2. Lead Practioners/curriculum leaders
1.3. Teachers
1.4. Co professionals
1.5. Literacy Coordinator
Section 2: Reading
2.1. Developing Reading Skills
2.2. Supporting struggling readers – interventions and phonics
Section 3: Writing
3.1. Writing - enjoyment and engagement
3.2. Writing – Spelling, punctuation and grammar
Literacy Policy July 2013
Section 4: Speaking and Listening
4.1. Speaking and Listening
The implementation of the literacy policy will be reviewed by:-
Learning Walks
Lesson Observations
 Work scrutiny
The impact of the literacy policy will be reviewed by:Analysis of reading age data (whole school, case studies and nurture group)
Analysis of AP progress and achievement data (English, including nurture group)
Student voice
Staff voice
Parent feedback
Literacy Policy July 2013
Section1: Roles and Responsibilities
1.1 Academy Leadership Team
 To actively support and drive the policy of improved literacy for all
 Help manage and sustain the policy
 Meet training and resource needs
 Monitor and evaluate the whole school policy
 Ensure the implementation of the policy in departments, monitoring and evaluating provision
1.2 Lead Practioners/curriculum leaders
 Ensure and sustain literacy as a priority in both departmental policy and delivery
 Engage with the common strategies provided, prioritising need and organise meaningful steps
to improve
 Ensure that literacy boards are on display in each classroom and that they are used
 Monitor the effective implementation of literacy by members of their department
 Identify and share good practice
 Ensure that the school marking policy is implemented at all times
 Track provision and raise concerns regarding the development of literacy
1.3 Classroom teachers
 Recognise the importance of language in learning
 Support Lead Practioner/curriculum leader in implementation of departmental strategies
 Share good practice
 Act as an effective language model and support a culture of literacy
 Implement whole school marking policy at all times
1.4 Co
Recognise the importance of language in learning
Support Lead Practioner/curriculum leader in implementation of literacy strategies
Share good practice
Act as an effective language model and support a culture of literacy
1.5 Literacy coordinator
 Promote and support the development of literacy across the whole academy
 Contribute to cross curricular initiatives, resources and assessment
 Support Lead practioners and curriculum leaders in the development and implementations of
literacy and keep them up to date with latest literacy developments.
 Ensure that the school policy is implemented
 Maintain an up to date knowledge of literacy
 Identify and intervene with students that need additional literacy support.
 Proved a literacy toolkit book to all staff with reading, writing and speaking ideas for lessons
Literacy Policy July 2013
Section 2: Reading
2.1 Developing reading skills
Role of literacy co-ordinator
 Advise teachers in all subject areas about reading (word, sentence and text level) and
comprehension strategies, that is, the sets of steps that good readers use to make sense of
a text. For instance, developing the “direct teaching of reading skills such as skimming,
scanning and reading for detail (including on the internet); using the index and glossary;
identifying key points and making notes; summarising; or using more than one source”
(Ofsted, 2012, Moving English Forward, p. 30).
 Provide guidance where requested on how to develop lessons and sequences of lessons which
allow students to practise the range of reading and comprehension skills introduced. Provide
access to teaching and learning support material on reading strategies. These strategies will
help students become purposeful, active readers.
 Develop a curriculum (functional skills) that will support the development of student’s
literacy skills in middle and lower band.
 Look into training for all staff on how to help students read, particular focus on phonics.
Role of Teachers
All teachers must make thoughtful and effective provision for the varying levels of reading
ability in their classes and should know the students’ reading ages and NC level for En2
Pre-reading activities
 Teachers should clarify students’ purpose for reading. They should relate the reading to
students’ lives; pre-teach concepts that might inhibit understanding; and activate or build
background knowledge needed to make sense of the text.
 Teachers must also develop students’ toolbox of comprehension strategies such as making
connections, asking questions and forecasting predictions (see Darts activities etc.).
 Teachers should pre-teach vocabulary using key words within lessons and through exciting
and pertinent starters to explore and bring new language alive whilst building understanding.
During-reading activities
 Teachers should vary the way the text is read. This could involve silent reading, bringing a
text alive by reading to students, oral reading by students, audio recordings or guided
reading. Teachers should be aware of reading ages of students but should not be afraid to
use material at a higher reading age with appropriate scaffolding. Use of lead learners and
guided groups should also be considered.
 Teachers should do everything to avoid reading becoming a dull and slow business – and this
isn’t achieved by just reading extracts, but on teacher approaches that are imaginative,
innovative and lively. Sharing reading aloud or reading around the class must be dealt with
cautiously as students waiting their turn may cause tension.
Post reading activities
A multi-sensory approach to texts read will allow students to remember and build upon learning.
Suggestions for follow up activities include: further questioning, discussion, building connections,
writing based upon the reading (text transformations), drama, re-teaching. Ofsted are quite clear
Literacy Policy July 2013
about using these multi-sensory, creative and innovative approaches, rather than simple using, and
overusing exam preparation techniques.
General advice for developing teachers’ active reading approaches
 The use of Directed Activities In Reading and Thinking (DARTs) is a vital tool for teaching
active reading. There are four main types of DARTs – cloze, text reconstruction, text
marking and text sequencing - and they all help students make sense of a text, and can be
used as pre, during or post-reading activities. These response activities develop students’
reading strategies. It also increases students’ appetite for reading for enjoyment and
improves comprehension skills, when underpinned by collaborative talk.
 Drama supports reading for meaning. There are a variety of strategies such as tableaux,
promenade, staging, hot seating, echoing and games such as “Stand up if…” to enhance
response and comprehension.
 Questioning by both teachers and students: for the explicit exploration and development of
all ‘Bloom’s’ question types. Student as questioner and responder can be a great
differentiation tool also.
2.2. Supporting struggling readers – interventions and phonics
Government policy
From September 2012, inspectors will:
 Consider the extent to which the school intervenes to provide support for students’ reading
skills, especially those who are at risk of underachieving.
 Ask how schools have identified struggling readers, what interventions are being offered to
address learning needs, and how the school monitors its programmes
 Listen to, among others, lower attaining students reading during and should discuss their
reading with them in Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools. This is to find out how effectively
the school is teaching reading and, in particular, how well the school is teaching its weakest
readers, judging the impact on students’ results
Role of literacy co-ordinator and SENCO:
 Identify students who are struggling to read as early as possible so that they can be given
extra help;
 Lead the whole school capturing of reading age data and produce a protocol for ensuring
implementation of reading age tests is managed effectively
 Organise and deliver synthetic phonics schemes, such as Lexia and Toe by Toe, to identified
students with widest reading deficits and lowest reading ages to ensure we close the gap.
Role of Teachers
 Teachers need to be aware of the difference between word recognition skills and
comprehension skills.
 Designated teachers and classroom assistants are trained to deliver interventions. When
implementing reading interventions, a range of one-to-one tutoring and small group tutoring
will be used.
Literacy Policy July 2013
3.1. Writing - enjoyment and engagement.
Government policy
Ofsted (2012), Moving English Forward:
o There are: too few opportunities for students to complete extended writing; too little time
in lessons to complete writing tasks; too little emphasis on creative and imaginative tasks; too
little emphasis on the teaching of editing and redrafting; too little choice for students in the
topics for writing; too few real audiences and purposes for writing (p. 26).
o Most students are regular user of modern digital technology. Teachers need to use these
contexts in their lessons if learning in English is not to seem out of step with students’
Department for Education (2012), Teachers’ Standards:
o Promote high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of Standard English
whatever the teacher’s specialist subject.
Ofsted (2012, April), The framework for school inspection:
o It will judge how well students develop/teaching enables a range of skills, including reading,
writing, communication… and how well they apply these across the curriculum.
Role of Literacy Coordinator
Work with teachers to:
 Develop and expand their subject knowledge of text types and text purposes.
 Encourage teachers to collect examples of quality texts of different forms and genres of
writing, as models of what good writing looks like.
 Monitor the introduction of minimum extended writing tasks in core and non-core subjects
through examining SOL, departmental work scrutiny and lesson observations.
Role of Teachers
 Provide students with both formal and informal writing opportunities, stimulated by reading
materials where possible. Teachers should endeavour to link to a creative theme, book,
experience or idea matched to their interests and needs, designed to capture their
imagination and resulting in motivation to write.
 Give students time to complete extended writing activities. Schemes of work should give the
opportunity for students to develop more extensive pieces of writing over time, using the
recommended sequence for teaching writing plus crafting, editing and publishing. Lessons
should explicitly teach editing and redrafting to produce meaningful writing of quality.
 There should be opportunities for extended writing as a minimum twice every 4 weeks
minimum for written subjects and once every 4 weeks as a minimum for non-written/practical
 Link the three strands of literacy (reading, writing and speaking and listening) through the
teaching of all writing skills and activities to exploit the reciprocal nature of these skills.
Remember that reading and discussing models of quality texts are an essential part of the
writing process. Also, encourage an environment of ‘discursive writing’ in the classroom,
where students reflect on, discuss and compare their own work, quality models and their
peers’ work. This oral feedback and discussion underpins formative assessment in writing.
Literacy Policy July 2013
Design creative and imaginative writing task; giving students real audiences and contexts
where possible.
 Give students the opportunity to embed the use of technology in the writing experience blogs, social media, websites and multi-model writing.
 Follow the recommended sequence for teaching writing. This involves:
1. Highlight features of good writing using exemplar materials, group work and discussion of
writing types.
2. Model the writing expected where the teacher talks through their writing decisions aloud.
3. Practise the writing by setting up joint writing activities between students so that they can
practise together before they write independently.
3.2. Writing – Spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Government policy.
Ofqal (update on 29 June 2012) Press Release - Changes to GCSEs for use in England;
Department for Education (26 April 2012), End for GCSE modules and spelling, punctuation and
grammar marks restored to exams:
o Students will be once again marked on the accuracy of their spelling, punctuation, use of
grammar and their use of specialist terms in GCSEs in key subjects. Five per cent of total
marks will include a linear assessment and the separate assessment of candidates’
performance in accurate spelling, punctuation and use of grammar. Marks assessing written
communication skills will affect externally assessed units from September 2012.
o In the first instance, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) will be assessed in those
subjects that involve extended writing - English Literature, geography, history and religious
o It was a mistake to abolish separate marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar in GCSEs
over the last decade. Employers expect people with high grades to be able to communicate
and write effectively, with precision and accuracy. It is right to restore specific assessment
of these vital skills.
Department for Education (26 April 2012), The Importance of Teaching: Schools White Paper,
o With spelling lists for age/year in primary schools being implemented, along with strategies
such as analogy, mnemonics, word banks, displays and interactive games, secondary teachers
will need to know exactly what has been taught to avoid repetition and ensure progress.
Ofsted (2011), Reading, writing and communication (literacy) – guidance and training for
o It is not clear how students will improve their spelling skills and understanding of grammar
and punctuation without explicit teaching….In light of the expectation in the new Teaching
Standards that all teachers will promote high standards of literacy and the correct use of
standard English, inspectors might expect to see a more formal approach to correcting basic
errors to writing across the curriculum.
Role of the Literacy Coordinator
 Ensure that the recently developed literacy marking policy, which enables staff to help
students identify and rectify errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation, is being used
effectively. (This includes supporting staff on use of pens and different colours for
different people e.g. red for teachers, green for peer/self assessment and purple for
literacy marking.
Literacy Policy July 2013
Lead a series of training sessions and give out practical resources which will enable teachers
to feel secure with addressing issues of spelling, punctuation and grammar across the school.
Work with teachers of all subject areas where needed.
Provide literacy place mats with vcop on for all departments.
Role of teachers
 Link spelling work to context – link to the form of writing being developed.
 Embed the teaching of spelling through a repertoire activities which may include purposeful
starters, use of mnemonics, spelling ‘quests’ etc.
 Use the literacy marking policy to ensure a high profile is kept on the importance of accurate
spelling – build time into lessons for student response/ correction of incorrect spellings.
 Model ‘have a go’ spelling to ensure students are encouraged to attempt the spelling of more
ambitious vocabulary in writing before seeking advice.
Grammar and punctuation
 Use punctuation pyramids and posters to reinforce regularly the importance of focus on
grammar and punctuation choices.
 Use talk and discussion to illustrate the application and effect of grammar - use contrasts to
show students how errors in grammar and punctuation alter meanings significantly.
 Use interactive and practical activities to teach and reinforce punctuation.
 Use the recommended sequence of writing to show examples, model writing and jointly
construct sentences while thinking aloud.
Literacy Policy July 2013
4.1 Speaking and Listening
High quality classroom talk is talk which is essential to children’s thinking and learning. It is also
linked to improvements in reading and writing, and overall attainment. It is essential then that
teachers develop and embed a wide repertoire of productive teacher-student/student/student talk
and questioning which develops real dialogue and depth of thought in classroom practice.
Government policy
Department for Education (2012), Teachers’ Standards:
 The standards state that all teachers should, “demonstrate an understanding of and take
responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy and the correct use of standard
English, whatever the teacher’s specialist subject” (Part 1, point 3).
Ofsted Inspection Framework, 2012:
 Inspectors will consider the extent to which reading, writing, communication and
mathematics are well taught.
Role of Teachers
 Ensure that all students contribute to group and class discussion by prompting or directing
students to assume responsibility for the content or direction of discussion,
 Establish a positive classroom environment where students have opportunities to share their
own views and ideas through use of talk partners, drama and group work.
 Construct class rules for speaking and listening: taking turns, good eye contact, active
listening and being respectful.
 Use teacher modelling and speaking frames to develop students’ talk.
 Use a range of different forms of formal talk in lessons such as interactive in group work.
Build opportunities for whole class, group, paired and independent speaking and listening.
 Give students a range of well-structured talk tasks and opportunities. to develop their oral
presentation skills.
 Create challenging discussion by using questions to draw out extended answers, encouraging
learners to explain and justify their views. By challenging students through a depth of
questioning, teachers will enable thought, reflection, exploration, analysis, speculation and
 Explore and develop the pedagogy of classroom talk through use of truly reciprocal talk;
encouraging and scaffolding students to think, reflect, shape their own ideas and develop and
answer their own questions.
 Ensure that all students contribute to group and class discussion by prompting or directing
students to assume responsibility for the content or direction of discussion,
 Establish a positive classroom environment where students have opportunities to share their
own views and ideas through use of talk partners, drama and group work.
 Construct class rules for speaking and listening: taking turns, good eye contact, active
listening and being respectful.

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