We have developed a number of initiatives to encourage students ( and staff) to read more. The school library has been revamped to make it more inviting and the stock of books has been updated to include texts and other reading matter that appeal to students across all years and ability levels. The introduction of “Accelerated Reader” alows the students to keep track of the books they read and allows the Librarian to keep a track of how many books each individual or tutor group are reading – our challenge to the Year 7 tutor groups is to be the first to reach 1000,000 words!
Research shows that the key to becoming truly literate is to read 50 books a year and for many of us, students and staff alike, that’s quite a challenge. So to encourage everyone to develop that love of reading and to see that its something we can all do, each week during one of their tutor sessions all students take part in “Drop Everything and Read”. Students and their tutor read quietly together for twenty minutes first thing in the morning. And to make the point even more forcibly, in November 2013 the whole school, including all the non-teaching staff are quite literally dropping whatever they are doing for 15 minutes, to read together; teachers, students, SLT, technicians, secretaries, TAs, cleaners and caretakers.
We are also focusing students and staff on two key areas of basic literacy. The first is to make more effective use of connectives in their written work, in order to encourage more detailed and thoughtful pieces of extended writing.
The second is a focus on PEE ( Point, Evidence and Explanation) as a planning tool for the construction of well argued and reasoned answers and pieces of extended writing.
Posters in classrooms remind students about Connectives and PEE and they all have been given a bookmark with reminders about how to apply both techniques to their work. Students and teachers are using green pens to mark work to show where they have used Connectives and PEE and there are literacy pages in the student Learning Journal to help them.
We are also focusing on improving Mathematical Skills in all subject areas. A team of maths teachers has lead training for colleagues to explain to them how to teach in “The Maths Way”, to ensure consistency across all subject areas when they are teaching using a number of key mathematical concepts. There are also resources available for tutors to use in tutor time, which address the same key areas of basic mathematical skills.