“For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Matthew 25:29

“Blessed is he who reads…and heeds the things which are written in it.”

Revelation 1:3

Curriculum Intent

– To develop literacy across the whole school, giving our students the best chance to succeed to the best of their ability, with a particular focus on students who are achieving below their age-related expectations.
– To develop a love of reading, writing and language in our learners.
– To develop students’ confidence in their abilities, belief in themselves and to allow their social skills to develop.

Curriculum Implementation

Early interventions enable students to make good progress in English and Maths and, ultimately, across the curriculum. The Learning Support Department provides intervention sessions and support to students before, during and after school in conjunction with the support provided by parents to enable a holistic approach where possible.

All students in year 7 complete an Access Reading Test. This will provide the school with a standardised reading score. This, in conjunction with KS2 data is used to highlight any student who scores under 90. Research shows that many standardised assessments categorise scores of under 85 (below average) to identify students who require intervention. At The Catholic High School, we raised this level to 90 to ensure that any student who may be on the cusp of average are provided with catch up literacy support. This may also be beneficial for students whose literacy levels have dipped following the six-week summer break and require a top of intervention programme. Year 7 students also complete the Vernon Spelling Test. This, combined with the Access Reading Test, gives us a good idea of students who need support.

Support staff then get to know these students and their needs so that targeted intervention can be given. Aside from the nurture group (see next paragraph), we also identify year 7 students who require a top up of literacy skills. These students receive literacy support once a week, focusing on grammar, comprehension, creative writing and other skills that will enable students to succeed in GCSE English.

Within year 7, we identify a small cohort of students who form part of our nurture group. One of the recommendations of the Education Endowment Foundation is that high quality literacy interventions should be provided to students who are struggling. They recommend proactive support, particularly in Year 7. Assessment is recommended to decide on the appropriate intervention and the impact. Students in the Nurture group are assessed using formative and summative methods. This is in line with research from ‘closing the Gap’ (York, 2019), ‘to make the most effective use of numeracy and literacy interventions, it is important to ensure that they are targeted at the children who need them the most’.

Planning is adjusted where necessary to reflect observations during formative assessment. Summative assessments take place at the end of each term to monitor progress and identify gaps in knowledge which are addressed in the subsequent term. The nurture group will follow a programme to incorporate catch-up work from Year 5 and 6 which is mapped onto some of our schemes of work, but delivered at the appropriate level. Targeted sessions will address gaps in learning which have arisen as a result of missed learning as a result of Covid and other identified knowledge gaps. The long-term planning has taken into consideration other subjects including, but not limited to, History, Geography, Art, DT, Food tech., Computing, Drama and Science. These will be delivered as part of literacy sessions, key skills sessions and during themed weeks which take place approximately once a term. Where possible the curriculum has been mapped onto the content being delivered at Year 7 e.g. Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse in place of Gothic Fiction; sea poetry instead of ‘Nature and the Romantics’. For a small number of students who are working well below the expected level, supplementary interventions in reading/phonics and Maths will be provided in addition to the nurture group sessions.

The EEF also make a number of recommendations for KS2 level which are appropriate for the students in the Nurture group setting as these students are working below age-related expectations. A target is to develop student’s language through speaking and listening. Students are encouraged to read aloud, to discuss their ideas and share their thought processes before writing tasks are completed. A further recommendation is to teach comprehension strategies through modelled and supported practice. In weekly guided reading lessons students are taught to predict, clarify, summarise and infer using age-appropriate texts, linked where possible to the theme of the half-term. Feedback to parents is provided through the school’s tracking with individualised comments provided to parents. Parents also receive a report at the end of the year to celebrate their child’s successes.

Students in year 9 also complete an Access Reading Test. This allows progress to be monitored and also identifies any students who may have fallen behind with their literacy progress since the initial year 7 assessment. In-year admissions will also complete a literacy screener to enable us to provide early intervention where necessary.

Students in KS3 who receive literacy support do so in small groups or one to one. We revisit the basics and build on these, including grammar and vocabulary from KS2. Staff work hard to personalise learning experiences to develop students’ interest and ability level in order to maximise pupil progress. Some students also benefit from re-visiting some phonics work from KS1. We challenge our high attainers to further develop their skills and to explore more complex grammar and vocabulary and use professional reports such as speech and language and dyslexia reports to guide our provision.

Students are engaged with texts which are often linked to other areas of their curriculum. We encourage students to read and listen to stories. Exposing students to language in as many different formats as we can encourages vocabulary development. We encourage students to try, even if this means making mistakes, both in their reading and writing.

We also aim to develop students’ social and communication skills through small group work. Building on students’ current levels, no matter what they are, helps to build confidence and self-belief, something that is important to our whole school community.

We have subscriptions to Lexia PowerUp Literacy and IDL. Students access these in some intervention sessions and are encouraged to use them at home too. Information about these is sent to parents and they are kept updated of progress made. IDL is also used in spelling support sessions, during form time, for some students.

The SEND team carry out work scrutiny of students’ books, focusing on certain groups of students at times, for example Pupil Premium boys. They use this to look for common errors or strengths and then this can be used to inform planning of intervention sessions. The HLTA for literacy also monitors progress within lessons to analyse how students are implementing the strategies taught across the curriculum. This link between literacy intervention and the rest of the curriculum is particularly helpful for our students as they progress to GCSE courses.

We use the GL Rapid Dyslexia Screener in school. This is done following a referral from parents or staff. Following the assessment, parents and students are given feedback. The support we offer these students is the same whether they decide to pursue a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia or not. We support parents to find an assessor, if this is something they want to do. Once a student has been assessed, whether this be a literacy assessment or a dyslexia screener, strategies are shared with staff who work with the student. The HLTA for Literacy also checks in with these students and their parents to establish what support is needed and to update them on progress.

To aid staff referrals for literacy support, there are Age Related Expectations for Year 7 and 9. These include expectations for each strand (reading, writing, speaking and listening, spelling). This is used in conjunction with the normal SEND referral forms in school.

Students who are new to the school at any point in the year also complete a literacy assessment. This allows us to see what, if any, support is needed. For our EAL students this enables us to see what level of English the student has and to offer appropriate support. We have an EAL club three times a week to offer support to these students whilst still immersing them in the whole curriculum.

Curriculum Impact

The Year 7 Nurture group students’ progress is measured in a number of ways. They complete weekly spelling and times tables tests; they are assessed at the end of each half-term and the data collated is used to plan starters or lessons for the following half-term to address gaps; they are formally assessed twice each year using the AMT and ART tests to measure long-term progress; they have access to an online spelling and maths package which collects engagement data; literacy books are marked each fortnight to provide timely feedback (numeracy is self-assessed) and formative assessment is carried out during lessons to provide live verbal feedback to students that they can act on immediately. Students have opportunities to review marking in their books and should use this to reflect on their own work and make corrections or extend their piece of writing. Regular reading opportunities in lessons allow assessment of decoding and blending skills and helps to build vocabulary and questioning develops students’ engagement and confidence. Observations of students over the year are used to decide on progress in soft skills such as team-working, resilience, and enthusiasm.

Students who receive literacy support in other year groups are formally assessed at the beginning of the year and again at the end, this is done by using the Access Reading Test. Throughout the year progress is measured in a variety of ways. Lexia PowerUp Literacy allows us to track student progress on the program, as does IDL. During literacy sessions we use the same metacognition feedback that students are used to across the curriculum, enabling them to learn from their mistakes and develop their understanding of literacy techniques. Live feedback is regularly used to promote understanding and progress in addition to memory building strategies which are crucial to enabling progress in literacy. Regular reading and questioning in lessons also allows assessment of these skills and informs future planning.

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