There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. - Jacqueline Kennedy
Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy- Barack Obama
At Harris Academy Sutton (HASU) we believe that every student is entitled to a curriculum that both develops their literacy and gives the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of reading and writing. We aim to ensure that every student attending our Academy has the literacy skills and experiences that they need to successfully access and enjoy our ambitious, broad, balanced, culturally rich curriculum.
We aim for every child to leave our Academy a lifelong reader, able to write, speak and listen effectively, with fluency, accuracy and enthusiasm. Proficiency in literacy is an essential means by which students access the curriculum, and develop their understanding of their place in our world. Moreover, literacy is fundamental to preparing today’s students for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.
At HASU, we promote and develop literacy across six strands:
- Promoting reading for pleasure
- Supporting less able readers
- Embedding reading within the curriculum
- Teaching academic vocabulary
- Developing students’ oracy
- Developing students’ writing
Literacy is central to great teaching, and all staff receive regular training on how to best teach literacy and provide opportunities for students to develop their reading, writing and oracy. Academic vocabulary is explicitly taught in all subjects, using strategies that incorporate practice and rehearsal to best embed new learning powerfully.
More information can be found about our provision in our Literacy Policy which can be found in the Teaching & Learning policies area. Below, we have highlighted just parts of our broad and vibrant provision:
Drop Everything & Read (DEAR)
Every child should be encouraged to be a reader. Through our DEAR programme, all students take time during every day to read for pleasure. Through this, we seek to normalise reading for all students irrespective of their background or current reading ability, and encourage every young person to cultivate their love of reading.
Alongside the DEAR programme, fortnightly Register, Read, Respond sessions for all Year Groups train students in reading both fiction and non-fiction short texts with their peers, fostering their ability to access a wide range of texts beyond their own reading books.
We recognise that in order to fully engage with the challenge expected in curriculum texts, writing and oracy, students need to master a range of ‘tier two’ vocabulary. To ensure this we have embedded Bedrock Vocabulary, a computer-aided vocabulary development tool, for all students. Academic, high leverage vocabulary is explicitly taught through fiction and non-fiction texts online and students are then expected to apply their knowledge to pieces of writing to demonstrate their learning. Students undertake lessons as part of their homework and their progress is carefully monitored and tracked by their English teachers. Bedrock regularly assesses students’ vocabulary development, ensuring that each student is accessing a programme tailored to their needs and ability.
Engagement with Bedrock at HASU is fantastically high and we are so proud of our students’ commitment to developing their reading skills.
Literacy Interventions and Support
For those less able readers, including those with SEND the Academy has established a clear, graduated programme of reading and phonics interventions that enable these students to access appropriate supportive provision to help them make progress in their reading. This provision is jointly led by the SEND and English teams, and draws on a variety of specialist and trained staff.
In 2021-22, our Literacy Support programme includes:
- Read Write Inc Phonics
- Lexia Literacy
- Hackney LIT programme
- HASU Literacy Support groups (which include a variety of school-led provision such as paired reading)
The HASU Library
Our beautiful Library takes centre stage in the heart of the Academy, open to all students throughout the day as a space to read, work, access IT, browse and borrow books and engage with our fabulous Librarian Ms Lock. Our Lord Harris Reading Room provides a comfortable, tranquil space for students who wish to focus on their reading.
At Key Stage 3, regular Library Lessons ensure that all students are inducted into and feel comfortable within the Library. These sessions are run jointly between the English team and our Librarian.
The Library is stocked with an array of fiction and non-fiction, with regularly changing themed displays and recommendations.
More information about the HASU Library can be found on its own page here.
The HASU Library Twitter account can be found here.
Our Librarian, Ms Lock, is excited to support all of our students in their reading!
Celebrations of Reading, Writing and Speaking
Literacy remains high on the agenda throughout the Academic year, promoted through whole-school celebration of calendar events including:
- World Book Day
- Performing Arts Week
- World Theatre Day
Other calendar events such as Black History Month and Holocaust Memorial Day are accompanied by reading challenges.
Alongside these ‘marquee’ events, termly reading competitions and initiatives are run by the Library team to encourage and celebrate reading. Recent examples have included our ‘Extremely Cosy Readers’ photo competition and ‘Cover re-creation’ challenge. Winning entries can be seen throughout the Library and beyond.
Our team of Literacy Champions are central to keeping reading for pleasure at the heart of everyday life in the Academy. Pupils apply and are appointed as Literacy Champions, with each year group playing a part in promoting our reading culture through promoting challenges and competitions as well as supporting with the everyday organization and running of the Library. Roles include:
- Year 7 Librarians
- Year 8 Reading Ambassadors
- Year 9 Reading Mentors
- Year 10 Reading Leaders
On DEAR days during tutor time, Reading Mentors and Reading Leaders in Year 9 and 10 spend time in the Library reading with pupils lower down the school for Paired Reading sessions. These Literacy Champions are trained in ‘Before, During, After’ reading strategies and work as reading role models for the pupils they are paired with in Year 7 and Year 8.
Monitoring and assessment of student Literacy
On entry to the Academy, all students’ literacy skills are assessed by:
- NGRT reading tests
- Lucid extract reading tests
- KS3 baseline assessments (subject specific).
In addition, less able readers (as identified by these measures, and/or as flagged during the primary transition process) receive an additional phonics screening conducted by the SEND team. This information is then used to provide targeted literacy intervention and support for those who need it.
Alongside this baseline testing, all students will annually take an NGRT reading test, to assess their progress in reading specifically. Students’ writing and speaking skills are assessed through the curriculum as part of ongoing formative and summative assessments. This data collectively allows us to track students’ progress and reading age over time, and provide personalised support.