All students are assessed on entry to the academy and their reading and spelling ages considered. Their handwriting is also checked. As a result of this, students may be taught within a ‘nurture group’ or withdrawn from French in order to improve their basic literacy in Years 7 and 8 by joining small groups who are given intensive support in addition to their usual English lessons. Some students may be allocated a reading buddy or take part in reading support sessions during tutor time. They may also be given access to literacy improvement software such as Lexia. Students with specific needs may be given other tailor-made support including use of Alpha Smart laptops, small group support or the provision of teaching assistant time in lessons.
All students read for pleasure during tutor time once every week and we have a ‘bring a book in your bag’ policy to encourage reading whenever students are able. However, all Year 7 and 8 students have a reading lesson every fortnight as part of their English lessons. During this time, Year 7 students use Accelerated Reader, a tailored, web-based reading scheme which allows them to identify their own reading level, select texts and complete comprehension and literacy quizzes as they read. Both years also have a literacy lesson every fortnight which revisits key literacy issues such as spelling and grammar.
Additional 1:1 and small group support is allocated to students who continue to cause concern. This sometimes takes place with a dedicated literacy support tutor during the academy day, or during period 7, with the students’ regular English teachers.
The library is a hub for reading activities and offers a number of book clubs and events including ‘books and biscuits’ for weaker readers who are invited to attend. The academy takes part in various book award schemes as well as hosting activity days for other local schools each term.
The English Department is committed to the teaching of literature and all students study literature at Key Stage Four.
The academy has a Literacy Across the Curriculum policy and all classrooms display posters on spelling and grammar. All staff are aware of students’ reading and spelling ages and have received training in supporting the full range of students in their lessons.