Literacy is a fundamental part of learning for students to be successful readers, writers, and speakers. Developing literacy skills in every lesson enables students to access all aspects of our curriculum in more depth, helps our students to learn independently and encourages reading for pleasure, which we hope students will do for the rest of their lives. We hope that by focusing on literacy across the curriculum, students will learn to use complex vocabulary to read, write and talk like experts in every subject they study. We believe that good literacy skills improves self-esteem, motivation and opportunity to be successful, so we support our students with this in all aspects of academy life.
In Form Time
Students will engage in a Read Aloud programme in tutorials in the morning. A series of well-known novels have been chosen, which will be read to them by their form tutor, as students follow the text using their own copies of each novel. The students will discuss the themes in the book and learn new vocabulary along the way, but the main purpose of this programme is to focus on enjoying a good book.
Here is our Read Aloud curriculum for Year 7 – 10: BOA Literacy – Read Aloud Curriculum.pdf
Help at Home Hint: Why not download the books from our curriculum as audiobooks and listen to them yourselves? It will help you to discuss the texts at home with the students and promote their engagement with the text. Also, they are great books you will definitely enjoy! You can download all of our texts as audiobooks here.
We also do assisted reading in form time. In assisted reading sessions, students will be given a non-fiction text, prepared by the member of staff on an important topic or issue. Their form tutor will read the text to them and some questions linked to the text. The students then answer the questions independently.
Help at Home Hint: Newspapers and online articles from trusted websites are a great sources of discussion. Read them with your children and ask them questions about what they have read. You can also use this opportunity to ask them about topical issues and have discussions and debates at home.
Form time is also an opportunity for less formal reading opportunities. In form time, students will be asked to pick up their own book of choice and read for short periods of time. Remember, they must have a book with them as part of their equipment, every day. We also do ‘Fast Reads’ of short stories, with no questions or discussion points attached, purely for the purpose of enjoying a good short story.
Help at Home Hint: If your children have younger brothers and sisters, ask them to read simple stories to them, quickly.
In The Classroom
In our lessons, students are taught to read, write and speak like experts in their subjects. This means using technical vocabulary and structuring sentences like an academic in that subject would. This is different in every subject and so, we are teaching our students how to do that to suit the needs of the questions they are being asked and the discussions they are having. For example, a good sentence in georgraphy has very different features from a good sentence in English. A scientist would read a text in a different way to a musician and look for information in a different way.
Help at Home Hint: Ask your children what they learned at school that day and be specific about their subjects. Ask them about new words they have learned and challenge them to talk to you in a professional and academic way about their work.
To help our students improve the way they write and speak, we use structured talk. Structured talk provides a framework for students to help discussions in lessons that can be used to inform their writing. By speaking to each other and their teachers in lessons about their work using academic language in a structured way, students plan their answers and prepare their written work.
Help at Home Hint: Have discussions with your children about topical issues that you see in the news. You could get them to use ABC feedback on your opinions. Make a statement about a topical issue, ask them to tell you something they agree with, something they would like to build upon and something they would like to challenge.
We put a lot of emphasis on vocabulary in every subject across school. We take time to teach students new language in lessons and teach them how they can apply this learning to their subject. We don’t simplify our language in lessons – we reframe rather than reword. This means we use technical language and ambitious vocabulary and teach students how they can use it too, rather than simplifying it. Using these words means being able to recognise them when you’re reading, spell them correctly and use them when writing and speaking.
Help at Home Hint: In primary school, students have to learn a set of spellings every week and practise them at home. You can keep that going by getting them to practise spelling new vocabulary they have learned over the week at home and testing them regularly. You can check definitions and spellings of vocabulary using our knowledge organisers online: https://brownhillsoa.co.uk/curriculum/subjects
Our intervention programme is developed to ensure that every child makes progress, whatever their starting point. We use Lexonik Leap and Lexonik Advance which takes our readers back to basics and provides them with the knowledge and strategies to read, understand and use complex vocabulary, quickly. We also use paired reading with adults and older students to improve reading fluency and confidence. Toe-By-Toe and precision teaching are also offered through intervention programmes with provide a different approach to reading skills, focusing on whole-word methods.
Help at Home Hint: One of the techniques we use in paired reading is ‘finger tracking’. One way to improve fluency is to put your finger under the words as your child reads. You track the words with your finger, not their’s. Move your finger at a steady speed and don’t stop even if they start to fall behind. Keep going at a speed that encourages them to read faster. They will make mistakes but try and make sure they keep going. If they stop on a word, stop, help them then go back to the beginning of the sentence and read it again.
Beyond the classroom, we provide opportunities for our students to apply their literacy skills to exciting projects that offer a glimpse into how they can use these skills in their professional lives in the future. The BOA Gazette is our academy newspaper that is run and created by Brownhills students. It gives our students the chance to develop as young journalists, practise writing non-fiction texts and research local, national and international issues to share this information and their views with the Brownhills community. This is accompanied by the Brownhills podcast, where our news stories are presented by our podcast hosts. This podcast also includes interviews with local people, inspiring members of our community and Brownhills alumni. We are also about the introduce an academy debating society, which will be chaired by one of our students, where students will argue their views on topics that face our community and young people across the country.
Help at Home Hint: Why not subscribe to ‘The Week: Junior’ as a great way to get your children engaged with newspapers? The Week Junior – Click Here
Keep your child up to date with the biggest national news stories by watching Newsround with them: Newsround – Watch Online Here
There are also some fantastic podcasts around for teenagers that will engage them in storytelling, debate and discussion: Top 20 Podcasts for Teens
Keep an eye out for our World Book Day plans for Thursday 7th March 2024. There will be lots of opportunities for staff, students and their families to get involved with projects and activities connected with our favourite texts. To finish this week of celebration all about reading, we will be holding our first ever House Arts Festival which will include short stories, monologues, poetry, songs and short scenes, prepared and performed by our students.
Help at Home Hint: When World Book Day comes around, make sure you use your £1 book vouchers. You can find out more about how to collect and use these via the following link: World Book Day – Vouchers
We will work as hard as we can to improve our students’ reading, writing and speaking skills in the academy, but the real progress comes when students practise regularly at home. Children should be reading at home every night for at least 20 minutes. At least once per week, they should be reading aloud to someone. This could be an adult who is stopping and asking them questions about what they’re reading or reading to a younger sibling, simply to practise reading fluently and expressively. We believe that all practice is good practice at Brownhills when it comes to reading.
For more details about our advice for reading at home click on the links below.
Parent & Carer Time To Read Guide: Reading At Home – Parent & Carer Guide.pdf
Useful Links: Reading At Home – Useful Links.pdf