‘You cannot build your vocabulary unless you meet new words, and to meet them you must read’
Rudolf Flesch and Abraham Lass.
At Harris Academy Morden, we believe that literacy is an essential skill to enable students to speak, read and write as experts in every subject across the curriculum. These skills are essential to understand the world around us and therefore, the better we are at these skills, the more successful we can expect to be in life. We recognise that improving literacy can have an impact on students’ self-esteem, motivation, behaviour and attainment and that reading, particularly reading for pleasure, has a direct impact on cognitive and social-communicative development. It has been shown that reading improves health and wellbeing, as well as compassion and empathy for others. Our goal is to develop each student’s potential to the point where they are reading at, or above, their chronological age. To ensure that literacy in and around the school is outstanding, our intentions are based around the research produced by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
As an Academy, our intention is to:
•Promote and celebrate reading for enjoyment
•Explicitly teach ‘disciplinary literacy’ in each subject area
•Use effective strategies to support comprehension and vocabulary acquisition
•Promote oracy in the classroom and communicational skills
•Provide tailored intervention where needed
Literacy Intervention Programmes
Students at Harris Academy Morden are tested for their reading age and spelling age at least annually. This, along with evidence from teachers about progress in lessons, allows staff to identify students who need additional support. Students who are identified as such, will be targeted for one of the many intervention programmes offered at HAMD that best suits their needs.
Students are identified through various testing to ensure they receive the literacy intervention that suits their needs:
- NGRT Reading Test – this test is administered twice a year. The test consists of students being asked to fill in gaps of a sentence when faced with a choice of vocabulary. Students are also asked to read extracts and are asked comprehension questions to test their understanding. This test provides us with student reading ages which then, for our KS3, gives them a reading level which is used in our HAMD reading scheme. Furthermore, the test helps staff to identify students who struggle with their reading and understanding and employ strategies to ensure they can be successful in the classroom.
- We also administer a Lucid Exact test to our students. This test allows us to see a clearer picture as to the needs of our students, this ensures that students are placed into the correct intervention for their needs. The test measures: Word Recognition, Reading Comprehension Accuracy, Reading Comprehension Speed, Spelling, Typing Speed and Handwriting Speed.
HAMD Reading Scheme
Here at Harris Academy Morden we have a developing reading culture in which we focus on ‘reading for pleasure’ as well as ‘reading for progress’. During tutor time, students are encouraged to read a book of their choice, whether it be from home or from our library. Furthermore, students from Year 7 to Year 9 have one dedicated lesson of reading a week. At the start of the school year, based on their reading age, students are assigned a reading level. In our library, we have curated a levelled system in which books have been carefully assessed and assigned a specific level. Our reading challenge calls for students to read up to three books every half term, which results in them moving up an entire level!
‘Fresh Start’ and literacy intervention
Year 7 Students who have a low reading age and have been identified as having difficulties in word recognition are enrolled in a ‘Fresh Start’ intervention. This intervention is a phonics-based programme which aims to build phonological knowledge from the ground-up. This is done by ensuring students understand the correct sounds and how to blend them, as well as identifying various phonological sounds in unknown words – which aids them in their ability to speak, read and write the word.
Furthermore, we also offer a vocabulary centred intervention where students are taught various techniques in learning or understanding new vocabulary, either from categorising words or by using context clues within a piece of writing. This helps students to create a strong bank of vocabulary in order to be successful across all of their subjects. Students are identified as needing this vocabulary intervention if they have a low Reading Comprehension Speed score.
Lastly, here at HAMD we also offer a literacy comprehension intervention. This intervention teaches students various reciprocal reading strategies to ensure students are competent at reading to understand. Students read various short texts and extracts and are taught a variety of strategies to build an understanding of what they have read. These students then use this understanding to build inferences and answer extended questions. Students are identified as needing this vocabulary intervention if they have a low Reading Comprehension Accuracy score.
Success of our literacy programme
In the academic year of 2020-2021, students who have partaken in our literacy programmes have had their reading ages drastically improved with our Year 7 literacy cohort averaging 2.76 years higher in their reading ages at the end of the intervention. This has allowed our students to feel more comfortable and confident in their reading, writing and speaking in class.
Bedrock Vocabulary at HAMD
Students complete two lessons every week between Monday to Sunday.
Bedrock Vocabulary is an online literacy and vocabulary curriculum, designed by English teachers to explicitly teach students of all abilities the academic words they need to succeed in school and beyond. Using a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, the programme exposes students to language and information which not only bridges gaps in their general knowledge but also provides them with the valuable cultural capital they need to understand the world around them.
At Harris Academy Morden, Bedrock is done as part of our homework programme and students in years 7-10, are expected to complete two lessons every week. As a parent, you also have access to the work your child is doing on Bedrock. Using the access code provided by the school, you can access your child’s account to understand their progress. You can see the words they are learning each week and can weave them into family conversations to ensure even more language practise.
Parents, if there is a problem, or your child has forgotten their Bedrock log in and password, please send an e-mail to: email@example.com
Students, have you completed your lessons? If not, what are you waiting for? Go on, log on to www.bedrockvocabulary.com, sign in to your account and do your lessons.
Literacy across the Curriculum
At Harris Academy Morden we are committed to empowering students by widening their vocabulary. We understand the link between confident, fluent reading and confident, articulate speaking and so we use Bedrock Vocabulary which is a computerised programme that explicitly teaches vocabulary through a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. This year we are introducing the teaching of Tier 2 vocabulary in lessons twice a week to enhance our students’ ability to be effective orators and confident writers.
We have an Academy wide active marking code which is used to identify technical errors within each students’ written work. Students respond to these codes consistently and teachers use them to determine common misconceptions that need addressing thereby improving their literacy skills.
Extra-Curricular Literacy Activities
Throughout the year, there are many more literacy opportunities for both staff and students to participate in. As well as World Book Day, termly reading and writing competitions and creative writing challenges organised by external agencies will also be available to promote literacy across the academy. These writing competitions have been quite successful with some of our students having had their pieces of work published!
Debate Mate club is very popular with our KS3 students. At this club they are taught skills in public speaking, grace under pressure and critical thinking. Some topics include, “Is technology making children’s lives better?” and “Is London a safe and great place to live”. Furthermore, there are exciting chances for competitions against other schools in and around the area.
‘Book and Biscuits’ is also becoming more popular with our students. It is an opportunity for students to sit with staff and read socially, whether it is the same book or the ability to have a space to talk about their favourite book.
Book Buddy Breakfast is also a club that is run by some of our Key Stage 4 top set students in which they sit and read with struggling readers in Year 7 for motivation during tutor time. The younger students are able to create a more positive relationship with reading, with the help of the passion of the older students. This gives the younger students a reading role-model and also an opportunity for the older students to share their love of reading. This is an exciting opportunity for our students and runs at least once every half-term.
The Library is central to what we do in the Literacy Department. It is a functional and highly resourced space for students to access before school, during break, lunch and after school. In the Library, students can access a catalogue of new exciting books from different genres. Most students use the library for quiet reading and for completing homework.
Our books are exciting with each one pulling their readers into an adventure like no other. There is a wide choice of genres for our students to get lost in. With a diverse list of authors to also choose from, here at Harris Academy Morden, we have a book for everyone!