At Redmoor Academy we see literacy as being of vital importance to the academic progress and good self-esteem of our students. All teachers, in each subject area, place a high value on spoken communication skills and accuracy in written work. Furthermore, there are some exciting initiatives in place for encouraging our young people to read for information and, equally importantly, for pleasure. Those who are keen readers are automatically doing the best thing possible to improve their vocabulary, expression and spelling. Competency in literacy is the single biggest factor leading to academic success and future prosperity.
There is a very useful resource for students and parents called ‘The Redmoor Read-More’. It is a very comprehensive list of recommended fiction for teenagers and includes books from many genres to suit all tastes. The Redmoor Read-More is regularly re-published to ensure it reflects the latest books. It contains a simple guide to the complexity or suitability of the books for different types of readers. As an incentive to get reading, the booklet contains details of some reading challenges students can complete and the prizes they can win for their reading efforts. Furthermore, all students at Redmoor have lessons dedicated to independent reading. Students’ reading is closely monitored and teachers take time to encourage and guide pupils towards more varied and challenging fiction choices and to reward pupils for reading widely. Reading rewards include books given as presents as well as e-vouchers and vivos.
Students who are not yet fluent readers are supported through the Ruth Miskin Fresh Start phonics programme and have two to three hours of dedicated literacy support. In addition, many students at Redmoor become part of a book club group for several weeks of the year. Book Club sessions are designed to inspire the students to develop a love of reading through the sharing of traditional books, graphic novels and e-books on kindles in a relaxed environment with an adult to guide them. A strategy called Reciprocal Reading is often used within book club sessions: students chair their own discussions about books, taking on the roles of the summariser, the questionner, the clarifier and so on, leading to more confidence and focus when reading.
Some students also benefit from ‘Go for Reading’, a mentoring scheme involving adult volunteers from industry who come to Redmoor for one hour a week to read with students who require additional one-to-one support. Gifted readers are encouraged to read new titles shortlisted for the national Carnegie Children’s Book Award, which is awarded each summer, and debate which book they believe deserves the prize.
Writing skills are also supported with particular emphasis on building a wide vocabulary and varying language for effect. Students record unfamiliar and expressive new words in their liteacy notebook and are encouraged to use newly-acquired vocabulary when speaking and writing. Students are encouraged to support themselves using the technology available to them and a set of iPads loaded with apps to aid spelling, vocabulary and sentence-writing are used in many lessons. The iPads are also a useful tool for students who require support with planning and organising extended writing. Furthermore, students’ basic skills are practised through literacy games such as phonics dominoes, anagram card games and creative writing flip-charts.
Students who experience difficulties with spelling attend early morning Word Study sessions which provide them with the strategies for improving their own knowledge and understanding of spelling patterns.
All teaching areas across the school contain a box of resources to support students with their literacy and all teachers and support staff actively develop students’ speaking, reading and writing skills, whatever their specialist subject.