For Parents & Carers
Why is it so important?
Simply put, literacy is the ability to 'read, write and speak’ and being able to do these well enables us to be successful in our everyday lives, including at school and at work.
Research tells us that children and young people who read on a daily basis and enjoy reading are more likely to have a much better range of vocabulary and are reading at a higher level than those who don’t. Most of us would not be surprised to learn that there is a significant correlation between reading ability and GCSE results across all subjects, including Maths and Science. Therefore, it is no surprise that literacy (especially reading) is becoming an increasingly important issue as current statistics suggest that less children are reading for pleasure now than ever before whilst exams are becoming increasingly harder because often students have to understand fairly complex language.
It is also important to remember that reading enriches our vocabulary, fuels our imagination and creativity, and teaches us empathy. It entertains, informs, broadens our knowledge and without a doubt, helps to make us better writers.
How can you support your child at home with their literacy skills?
Reading at home
The best way to develop any child’s literacy skills is to encourage their reading for pleasure and for them to read widely. It is an ethos we have fostered in the school environment for a number of years and is something we are keen to encourage at home. However, for some parents/carers, this can seem a daunting process: as students became older, their interest in reading may start to wane and thus trying to encourage them to read more seems difficult. Below are links to two resources which give valuable advice on reading with your child and on developing good reading habits in children:
Another excellent way to encourage students to read is through peer/adult recommendations.The following fiction book lists have been compiled by the PGS English department and include recommendations not just from staff but from students too. They are reviewed and updated throughout the year.
Developing Vocabulary at home
There is a clear link between a child’s level of vocabulary and their ability to access the curriculum at school and life beyond their education.
There are a number of ways in which parents and carers can help develop their child’s vocabulary skills in their home environment:
● Encourage reading
● Encourage children to write down unfamiliar words in a notebook as they read and to then write down the definition of these words. Knowledge of this new vocabulary will also be reinforced through children using it in subsequent writing.
● Have discussions at home on a broad range of topics and encourage the use of full sentences.
● Challenge the use of simple language and encourage/ praise the use of more ambitious language in these discussions.
How do we help students with their literacy skills?
We aim to improve the reading ages of our weakest readers so that all students can access the curriculum and no student is ‘left behind’. Within school, we run a number of literacy interventions primarily targeted at students in Years 7, 8 and 9.
• A ‘rolling programme’ of timetabled literacy intervention sessions
• For some Year 7 students: an additional 4 hours per fortnight of literacy intervention using programmes such as 'Ruth Miskin model of Fresh Start’
• Paired reading intervention with adults and older students in the school
Our ‘word rich’ environment in school encourages students to develop and expand their vocabulary. This isn’t just in English but in every subject. We believe that every member of staff is a teacher of literacy and as such, through the schemes of learning, they explore the subject-specific vocabulary that will help students develop their academic language.
Creating a reading culture
Fostering a love of reading is extremely important to us as a school and our aim is create a climate of ‘reading for pleasure’:
• During English lessons staff regularly monitor students’ independent reading at home and discuss the reading that is taking place.
• A weekly form session is dedicated to independent reading where students read and share book recommendations.
• World Book Day is celebrated every year.
• Book Club meets weekly.
• A reading book is part of the equipment list for students.
Other resources that may be useful
The Leeds Library service offers an online service where you can download books. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t registered for the library as you can register online. Follow this link to the library website:
The BBC has information that can help with the literacy skills of not only students but anyone who helps them at home. The following websites are especially useful:
This website (link below) has suggested reading lists which students in Year 7 may find useful as an addition to the recommended PGS reading lists: