The importance of literacy
Lacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life. As a child they won't be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and as a parent they won't be able to support their own child's learning. This intergenerational cycle makes social mobility and a fairer society more difficult.
People with low literacy skills may not be able to read a book or newspaper, understand road signs or price labels, make sense of a bus or train timetable, fill out a form, read instructions on medicines or use the internet.
Low levels of literacy undermine the UK’s economic competitiveness, costing the taxpayer £2.5 billion every year (KPMG, 2009). A third of businesses are not satisfied with young people’s literacy skills when they enter the workforce and a similar number have organised remedial training for young recruits to improve their basic skills, including literacy and communication.
What is literacy? What does it mean to be literate?
Being literate is more than being able to ‘read and write’. Being literate is the ability to express oneself, to explain one’s ideas and thoughts clearly, to offer an opinion or challenge someone else’s and, of course, to access, understand and interrogate different types of texts both across the curriculum and in the world outside of school.
- To prioritise literacy across the curriculum through ongoing curriculum development and whole staff training in the latest literacy methods and resources
- To enable our pupils to decode increasingly sophisticated vocabulary across all curriculum areas through the teaching of etymology (affixes) and morphology (the study of words and their parts) in all subject areas
- To encourage a love for reading through a constantly replenished library offering the latest titles and authors
- To encourage pupils to develop their comprehension, summary and inference skills through active form activities designed to support their work in class.
- To prioritise oracy skills across the curriculum so that they can ‘talk a good answer’ in each of their subjects and to discuss, debate and challenge views on a range of topical subjects.
Reading for pleasure is a gift. Reading transports us to other places and other times; it allows all of us to ‘walk in another man’s shoes’ as Atticus Finch reminds us: ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’
Reading encourages empathy and understanding of different places, different cultures and different eras. It is our aim to foster a love of reading through the provision of a relevant, challenging and wide-ranging selection of books and magazines
At Gable Hall, fostering a love of reading is central to our literacy ethos. Our library is at the heart of our school. It provides a safe, welcoming and stimulating environment for all pupils. Pupils are encouraged to eat their lunch while they discuss our extensive, high quality and ever-evolving book collection or participate in the range of board games available.
Our library is open before school with our well-established ‘Hot Chocolate Club’; all pupils can pop in to browse our range of magazines and books whilst enjoying a free hot chocolate and biscuit. What better way to start the day? After school, the library hosts a range of clubs and activities to suit a range of interests – see our ever-evolving Library Schedule and Events Calendar.
Every form at KS3, spends a minimum of one session each half term in the library. A librarian is on hand to help with book choices and active discussion and shared reading is encouraged.
Literacy, Form Time and ‘Drop Everything And Read’
The library is not the only place where books and reading are discussed. Each week, a new ‘Recommended Book’ is shared and discussed in forms; the range of books recommended is diverse, including: multi-cultural titles and authors, classics, non-fiction including self-help and autobiographies and new titles and authors.
DEAR is central to our reading culture. Every form across KS3, has a book box which is regularly updated. Each form has a weekly reading session and at the end of every half term a bespoke DEAR activity forms the basis of group discussions about a range of books. See our DEAR folder for the sessions covered so far this year.
Across KS3, weekly literacy activities are a focal point for form discussions and activities. Every week form groups discuss our ‘Prefix of the Week’ as part of our commitment to help pupils decode challenging vocabulary. Learning the meanings of parts of words – prefixes and suffixes – is essential when trying to work out the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.
Discussion of prefixes and suffixes is continued throughout the curriculum as departments teach key words through their etymological roots.
Oracy at Gable Hall
Enabling our pupils to find their voice is central to our teaching philosophy across the curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to ‘Talk a Good Answer’ before committing to the written word. Enabling our pupils through structured ‘thinking time’ and opportunities to discuss possible theories and responses before sharing with the class, are just two ways that we, as a school, support each individual to work out an answer before responding to a whole class question or theory.
Our key strategies include:
- Thinking time:
- Turn and Talk:
- Critical Thinking Phrases:
- Talking a Good Answer:
How can you support our mission to encourage a love of reading within every child?
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
― Kofi Annan: Human Rights Campaigner and seventh Secretary General of the United Nations