Literacy is the ability and confidence to use language to communicate meaning and understand the world around us. At St Sampson’s High School, we recognise the centrality of literacy in enabling our students to access the curriculum and excel as learners as well as to leave the school as inquisitive, thoughtful and articulate young adults.

Literacy in Lessons

We know that the literacy demands, such as the type of text our students are expected to read and write, change considerably in secondary school from primary school. We therefore prioritise teaching for literacy across all subjects and particularly focus on the following:

  •         Encouraging the use of academic and subject-specific vocabulary;
  •         Encouraging students to learn through reading through guided reading tasks;
  •         Supporting students’ extended writing through models and subject-specific writing frames.

You can download our school guide to subject writing success here.

Literacy Intervention

Some of our students require additional literacy support in addition to the main curriculum. We regularly assess students’ reading ages in order to determine the necessary levels of support required, which may take the form of the following:

  •         Students with low reading ages in key stage three complete the Bedrock vocabulary programme, which promotes reading and direct instruction of academic vocabulary:
  •         Students in Year 7 with low reading ages follow a literacy-focused programme in English lessons
  •         Students with low reading ages in key stage three are part of our peer reading programme
  •         Students with significant literacy difficulties receive 1:1 or small-group specialist support in decoding and/or comprehension

Reading for Pleasure

There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as for personal development. Evidence not only suggests that there is a positive link between positive attitudes towards reading and scoring well on assessments, but that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status or their parents’ level of education. Furthermore, for children who are the most engaged with literacy and read for pleasure outside of school the following is likely to apply:

  •         More likely to have a higher reading attainment and writing ability
  •         More likely to make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling and maths.
  •         More likely to be in employment later in life
  •         More likely to secure professional or managerial jobs later in life
  •         More likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing
  •         More likely to have higher levels of empathy and improved relationships with others
  •         More likely to feel connected to the wider community
  •         More likely to have an increased level of general knowledge

There are a number of things that we do here to support your child’s reading for pleasure during Years 7 and 8:

  •         All students have 20-minute DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) sessions every day.
  •         All students have a reading passport that is used to track their engagement with their current book.
  •         All students are given a series of reading challenges to complete as part of their reading passport as well as our ‘Top-Ten’ reading lists.

You can find a copy of our reading passport here.

You can also find a copy of our school reading lists here. 

Parents who support their children’s reading can make a real difference, and there are several things you could do to help:

  •         Make reading a regular evening activity, whether this is reading a novel or listening to an audiobook or podcast.
  •         Encourage your child to use new vocabulary. You could ask your child to recall and explain the new words they have learnt in lessons or on Bedrock.
  •         Allow your child to encounter a wide range of reading materials. In addition to reading fiction books, encourage them to read other materials around them: magazines, newspapers, comics, recipes, etc.
  •         Books also make wonderful presents: children who own a book are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who don’t own a book.
  •         Talk to your child about their reading. Research has shown that talking to children about what they are reading, and having books and magazines at home, makes a significant difference to children’s reading progress.
  •         Encourage your child to look at some of the following websites for ideas for reading: