At RCS, Literacy is not an ‘extra English lesson.’ Instead, Literacy is its own discrete subject which is tailored to develop transferable, cross curricular skills and remove three common barriers to learning that limit our students’ academic potential: weak literacy, poor oracy and limited vocabulary. To do this, we ensure that students: read widely and often by being exposed to engaging, age-appropriate non-fiction texts; receive a rich diet of explicit vocabulary instruction; are given opportunities to develop their oracy skills through purposeful exploratory talk with their peers.
Each scheme of work is sequenced so students are able to apply the new ideas and vocabulary they’ve acquired through reading to an extended written or spoken piece of work for a specific audience and purpose, which is set within a real life context. To reinforce the cross-curricular nature of the subject, we ensure that each half term’s scheme of work is linked thematically to a different curriculum area.
How we intend to remove barriers to learning
In Literacy lessons, we remove barriers to learning and support students’ ability to access the wider curriculum through the development of literacy, numeracy, oracy skills and vocabulary acquisition. Misconceptions do not go unchallenged and the supportive environment within each and every lesson ensures that students develop their key cross curricular skills in a high challenge, low fear environment.
As you would expect, literacy is at the heart of our curriculum. By using our reciprocal reading model, we ensure that students engage with ‘Reading the Rawmarsh Way’ through prediction, the modelling of fluent and confident reading by the class teacher, identification of new vocabulary, summary and interactive questioning. To complement this, we sequence our lessons to allow students to write creatively for real life contexts where they are able to apply the ideas and knowledge that they have gathered from their reading.
Although numeracy is not explicitly taught in Literacy lessons, students do encounter some numerical and statistical data in the texts that they read, which they need to process and understand in order to fully understand the text they are studying. Students may also use figures in their own writing as evidence to support their arguments.
In order to develop their oracy within a cross curricular context, pupils are given opportunities to talk about the different themes that they study. Literacy lessons are highly interactive and collaborative and talk tasks are built into schemes of work for students to discuss and debate with their peers around issues linked to the texts they’re reading. Much of the talk in Literacy is exploratory talk, where students are able to experiment with ideas in a low fear environment to develop their confidence. However, we also include opportunities for presentational talk where students are expected to address their peers in a more rehearsed and formal manner, applying the knowledge that they have acquired through their reading.
Staff explicitly teach new and unfamiliar vocabulary through reciprocal reading. In every lesson, students are encouraged to be curious about language, and are expected to find the meaning of key words that they encounter and discuss the different contexts in which they can be used. Teachers push students to be ambitious in their vocabulary choices, and will challenge students if their use of language lacks clarity or accuracy.
How we develop skills for learning
In Literacy, students are expected to make interpretations based on sound evidence. This typically begins with pre-reading activities – often using a visual stimulus – in order to make predictions about what students are about to read. The skill of interpretation is further developed through the reading engaging and thought provoking texts and is tested through frequent low stakes comprehension quizzing. Through challenging questioning by their teachers, students are encouraged to be original and divergent in their thinking and will be probed to explore different possible interpretations.
Evaluation is a skill which we develop first through talk, with students routinely given controversial statements which they have to weigh up with their peers and come to a measured judgement. They then apply these skills to their writing, where they are expected to articulate coherent arguments for different contexts.
Being creative and imaginative are also crucial skills for learning which we develop through writing. Students are given engaging stimuli, such as moving images, real life scenarios and opportunities to develop one another’s creative thinking through collaboration with peers. Lessons are planned so that creativity through writing is modelled and students understand what ingredients they have at their disposal to craft their own.
How we foster personal attributes
Literacy lessons play a significant part in developing resilient learners who are equipped to learn and rise to the challenge of the increasingly text heavy demands of the wider curriculum. If students lack confidence, independence and competency in reading, the supportive reciprocal reading model used in Literacy will enable them to better understand subject content they are exposed to.
Students with limited vocabulary repertoires will be expected to take risks and experiment with ambitious vocabulary choices both verbally and in their written work. When producing independent writing, students in Literacy are expected to take pride in their work and never give less than their best. When they are successful in their work, we celebrate success and encourage students to be proud of their achievements.
However, when things don’t go quite so well, we promote self-reflection where students accept small failures and are eager to learn from them and strive for improvement.
How we intend to enrich student experiences and broaden the horizons of students
Through Literacy, we carefully select our reading material so that students are able to explore the most topical and newsworthy issues which are taking place across the globe. By doing this, we hope to develop inquisitive learners who appreciate and embrace different cultures, values and opinions, taking them far beyond the community they know.
Literacy lessons are thematic and intended to promote cross-curricular learning. Here is a breakdown of our topics of study.