‘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 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.
As an Academy, we:
•Promote and celebrate reading for enjoyment
•Explicitly teach vocabulary appropriate to each subject area
•Use effective strategies to support comprehension and vocabulary acquisition
•Promote oracy in the classroom to enable quality written work
•Provide tailored intervention where needed
Literacy Intervention Programmes
Students at Harris Academy Morden are tested for reading age and spelling age at least annually. This, along with evidence from teachers about progress in lessons, allows staff to create a literacy profile for each child. Students identified as needing additional support, will be targeted for one of the following intervention programmes.
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.
At HAMD, 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.
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. There is also ‘Bridging the Gap’ club on Wednesdays for students who need support with basic literacy skills.
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 and lunch and after school. In the library, students can access a catalogue of new exciting books from different genres. They can trade in old books, buy new books or exchange books. Most students use the library for quiet reading and for completing homework.