Why is Literacy so Important?
Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. The development and mastery of these skills allows students to unlock the knowledge and understanding needed to succeed not just at school, but in their lives beyond the classroom. At Wales High School we want to support students of all abilities to develop their literacy skills and have a range of intervention programmes in place for those who are not yet secure in their reading and comprehension skills. We take a cross-curricular approach to Literacy; all of our subject and support staff recognise the importance of strong disciplinary literacy skills. We also work hard to build a strong culture around reading for pleasure, encouraging students to spend as much time as possible reading at home and at school. If you would like to read our Whole School Literacy Policy click below:
Meet our Literacy Team
Whole School Literacy Leader
Intervention Specialist and Librarian
Lexonik Advance and Leap
As part of our whole school focus on the importance of reading, our well-loved school Library is currently undergoing a huge transformation. Inspired by a recent visit to Rotherham Town Library and taking suggestions from Year 7 and 8 students about their ‘Dream Library‘, Mrs Cooper and Mrs Ellin worked hard to rearrange the hundreds of books to make them more enticing and accessible.
We now have a regular ‘Author Spotlight’ feature, a Mental Health and Wellbeing section, an LGBTQ+ section and a Group Reads section. We are investing heavily in our range of fiction and non-fiction books to ensure we have a diverse range of texts that will appeal to everyone. We also have a brand-new online search facility called ‘Access it’ which allows students to search through the Library‘s extensive catalogue. Click on the ‘Access it’ logo to take a look.
In addition, the Library now has its own Twitter page, featuring lots of updates, book recommendations and competitions. The Library is open to all year groups from 8.00am every day and also after school. We have an extensive programme of lunchtime and after-school activities including; Book Club, Literary Film Club and Manga Art Club. Pop in to see us in the library and follow us on Twitter to find out what else we are up to!
How can I Support my Child at Home?
Supporting Students with Reading
We use a range of reading assessments to help us identify students who would benefit from additional literacy support. Students’ reading ability is first assessed in Year 7 using the New Group Reading Test to provide a baseline view of a student’s reading ability. From this, we may use further tests to pinpoint specific reading difficulties, such as issues with phonics gaps, fluency, comprehension. The results of these tests will be used to determine which form of intervention we use with students. You can find out more information about our intervention programmes by clicking the links below.
Our team of Year 12 reading partners are trained volunteers who work with some of our Year 7 students by listening to them read twice weekly. The aim of the programme is to build the confidence of our Year 7 students and to develop their fluency and comprehension skills. The programme is a long-standing feature of our Literacy programme, and students in both Years 7 and 12 regularly report how much they enjoy being part of it!
Building 'WORD POWER'
At Wales High School, we recognise that the ability to use and interpret key vocabulary is essential to our students’ understanding of core concepts across the curriculum. In all subject areas, staff combine a morphological approach to vocabulary instruction. This is centred around the belief that if students know the meaning of the most common prefixes, stems and suffixes, they will be able to use what they know to unlock what they don’t yet know. Teaching staff in all subject areas use Frayer Diagrams to explicitly teach the meaning of key words, drawing attention to the morphology of them and thereby building students’ WORD POWER.
GROW Lessons (Guided Reading, Oracy and Words)
As a school, we recognise the importance of reading to a child’s education and wellbeing. The ability to read is considered the gateway to the curriculum. Reading is more than just being able to identify the sounds and words that have been written; it encompasses the ability to predict, infer, clarify, summarise, empathise and reflect. Without fully developing proficiency in the skill of reading, students’ ability in all subjects will be negatively impacted. Moreover, research shows that children who read regularly are happier and more successful than those who don’t.
To support our students’ reading skills, all of our Year 7 and Year 8 students will have an hour of dedicated reading time on their timetables as part of our GROW programme (Guided Reading, Oracy and Words). The purpose of the lessons is to give students time to read, enjoy and discuss complex texts in a structured way. The texts will be read aloud by teachers to model expert fluency, with lots of opportunities for students to re-read the text in different ways to develop their own reading skills.
The texts we have chosen are modern, engaging, age-appropriate novels which provide lots of opportunities for students to explore themes and ideas linked to the PSHE curriculum. The texts will be accompanied by bespoke, professionally printed booklets which are designed to guide students thoughtfully through the texts.
An outline of the texts we will read throughout the year can be found below. If you have any questions or concerns about the themes or ideas covered in these texts, please email [email protected] to discuss further.
September – December 2023
January – March 2024
April – July 2024
Please note: All of our books are age appropriate, however some may contain sensitive topics and or explicit language.
In conjunction with BookTrust, all of our Year 7 students will be gifted a book of their choosing from the BookBuzz programme. With a list of 17 fantastic titles to choose from, every student will find something they love whatever their interest or ability. The books have been selected by an expert panel including school librarians, teachers and children’s booksellers. You can read more about this year’s books by clicking on the BookTrust logo.
Bitesize Reading Boards
The Bitesize Reading Boards provide bite-sized snippets of reading for students to get their teeth into during social times such as break and lunch. The content of them changes regularly and is chosen to link in with key themes or ideas from across the curriculum, such as Black History Month, British Values and Remembrance. The boards can be found in the school cafeteria, Y11 Common room and Sixth Form Social areas.
Library Lessons, Clubs and Activities
Students in Years 7 and 8 have fortnightly library lessons timetables as part of their English lessons. This allows students the opportunity to spend time reading, choosing and changing their books and for teachers to deliver interactive lessons which aim to build a love of reading.
The Library also hosts a number of themed events and activities as well as clubs at lunchtime and after school.
- Film Club: Tuesday lunchtime
- Manga Club: Wednesday after school
- Book Club: Thursday lunchtime