Whole School Literacy
Young people who leave school without good literacy skills are held back at every stage of life. Their outcomes – from academic to health and wellbeing, finance and employment – are poorer on almost every measure. At Abbeywood Community School, we believe that improving literacy is fundamental. All teachers should be supported to understand how to teach students to read, write and communicate effectively in both their subjects and in engaging with the world around them. We believe students should be exposed to challenging texts that make them curious about their own and other cultures, and that we can support them in gaining both pleasure and understanding in these texts by teaching vocabulary explicitly. Reading helps students gain knowledge that leads to better writing, whilst writing can deepen students’ understanding of ideas. Our aim is to create confident readers and writers who can also participate in high quality talk that is well-structured and guided by teachers.
Our vision is to create a culture of reading within our school in order to enhance students’ cultural capital, vocabulary and enjoyment of reading as well as considering the importance of disciplinary literacy across the curriculum and providing vocabulary instruction in every subject.
Students in Year 7 and 8 take part in the fantastic Accelerated Reader programme. They take a reading test – or ‘STAR’ test – three times a year, which gives them a personalised range of reading books they can borrow from the library. They can also use the system to find books they might want to bring from home and check if they are the right level. Students can take quizzes on books and receive prizes. Accelerated Reader is an important part of our drive to make students more independent in their reading. We have an AR lesson once a fortnight as part of our English curriculum.
Independent reading at home
Students in year 7, 8 and 9 are now required to complete independent reading at home – 45 mins per week as part of their English IHL in year 7 and 8 and 30 mins per week as an ‘extra curricular’ reading task in year 9.
Once a week, students and staff throughout Abbeywood will ‘drop everything and read’ for 20 minutes of a designated lesson. We have learned from other schools and research that this session, designed to promote enjoyment of reading as well as enhance vocabulary and the ability to read for sustained periods of time, is of real benefit to students. This will take place for students in y7-10 and 12-13 as we don’t wish to disrupt the exam preparation occurring in Year 11.
This takes place in tutor times for y8-10 twice per week.
The school has invested in class sets of fantastic novels for year 7, who are taking part in whole class guided reading. The tutor reads the novel on the visualizer and students follow along with a ruler, creating a shared experience and a fantastically calm and purposeful start to the day. This happens in tutor time four times per week.
The ACS Closing the Vocabulary Gap Strategy
At ACS, we are proud to have launched our fantastic whole-school literacy strategy to improve vocabulary. Each week, students across the whole school are introduced to 10 words, which will be referred to in their lessons, IHL (year 7 and 8 have a formal IHL Weekly Words booklet to complete), conversations and will be visible on the website, in classrooms and around the school. Year 7 and 8 students will complete IHL on exploring the words further, understanding meaning and developing appreciation of context, while older students will be encouraged to use them when relevant in their different subject areas. Teachers will aim to explicitly teach academic words as well as use them in conversation to support students in ‘upscaling’ their vocabulary as well as developing their use of more academic words in the correct context. Words have so far included analyse, data, specific and principle.
The ACS Library (or LRC)
Our wonderful Learning and Resource Centre is a real hub at the centre of our school, where students can take part in clubs such as the Concorde Reading Group and homework club, complete research, use the computers, get book recommendations and much more.
Ten Top Tips To Help Your Child Become a Reader for Life
As parents, you have an important role to play in helping your child to develop their reading. Research has shown children who read regularly are more likely to succeed. Here are our top ten tips to help your child read:
1. Set aside 20 minutes to sit with your child with no distractions and listen to them read.
2. Let your child choose the book, you will need to make sure it is not too difficult for them or they will struggle. Pick easier books to start with so your child can build their confidence and flow.
3. Be positive. Boost their confidence with positive praise for even the smallest achievement.
4. Be patient.
5. Keep the reading flow going. If your child makes a mistake, give them time to self-correct. It is also sometimes better to tell them an unknown word to keep momentum and interest going than make them sound it out.
6. Listen to your child read at least 3-5 times a week. Little and often will make a big difference.
7. Talk about what they have just read. Ask your child to tell you about the characters, what has happened so far, what they think will happen and what their favourite part is.
8. Encourage your child to read a wide range of materials: magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, comics as well as books.
9. Ask your child to read aloud material which interests both of you, like a newspaper article about your favourite activity, a recipe you are trying to make or a review in the TV guide.
10. Visit your local library to look for new books to read.