2011/12Schools Guide to LiteracyHow to improve your pupils’ literacy For all prima ry and secondary te aching staff, school librarians and senior m anagersCreate motivated and confident learners Complement your teaching of phonics
About this guideContents This guide is intended to provide information and ideas that will support schools to improve theirIntroduction 3 pupils’ literacy levels and results. It can be used by classroom teachersGetting results in reading 4 and assistants, senior management, literacy coordinators, schoolDeveloping writing skills librarians, English teachers and all secondary subject teachers.Supporting speaking and listening Schools are welcome to leave copiesSupport for you: resources, in the staffroom, photocopy contenttraining and networks and use it in staff meetings or Inset activities.Order form for resources, 23training and networks Who are we? The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity and the leading literacy expert in the UK. We have worked with schools since 1993, providing innovative resources, information and support. Over 30,000 teachers, librarians and other professionals have beneﬁted from our networks. Our pioneering research and work with schools enable us to develop new strategies and innovative approaches that get results. This year we are delighted to be launching new networks, resources and training to support schools. We are a not-for-proﬁt organisation and we work hard to ensure that all our resources and training are cost effective and provide good value for money. Find out more at www.literacytrust.org.uk/ schools We also work with and provideInformation provided in this guide is support for early years settings,taken from a variety of sources, including: childminders, local areas and communities. Find out more at see www.literacytrust.org.uk/research www.literacytrust.org.uk Removing Barriers to Literacy Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA Reading for Change Teachers as Readers: Building Communities of Readers Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children English 2000-2005: A review of inspection evidence2
2011/12 Schools Guide to LiteracyLiteracy in schoolsLiteracy skills are essential to attainment in school andopportunities and happiness throughout life. Alarmingly,test results tell us that achievement in reading and writing In 2011 schools will receive £480 per year forhas stalled, with one in six children failing to achieve the each pupil from a low income family and thereexpected level at key stage 2. There has been no increase will be a reading screening check in Year 1.in children’s reported enjoyment of reading since 2005,which we all know is closely linked to attainment, andnegative attitudes among boys have deepened. A 2011 Ofsted report on literacy found that the most effective schools have at least one senior member of staff with an excellent knowledge of literacy and its pedagogy,In a recent study the UK was ranked 25th out and that the most successful secondary schools are theof 65 countries, despite spending more per ones in which all teachers receive regular literacy training. This was shown to increase standards across thehead than many other countries on education. entire curriculum. How does this stack up for your school and for theIt is undeniable that in 2011 and beyond there will be practices you adopt? This Guide to Literacy offers you theless central and local support for schools. This means chance to examine your school’s approach to supportingthat schools will have greater freedom to develop their literacy drawing on our work with partner schools over theown practices around a slimmed-down core curriculum. last 18 years.Schools will need to ensure their ﬁnances are targetedto improve the life chances of all children whilst at the In order to ensure we continue to offer the very best insame time providing support for those from the literacy support, we invite you and your school to workpoorest backgrounds. alongside us, to share your practice and gain from other schools across the country. Together we can ensure the very best outcomes for pupils, schools and communities. Jonathan Douglas Director of the National Literacy Trust 3
Getting results in readingGetting results in readingOur new study of over 17,000 pupils proves “I’m concerned that almost 40 perthat there is a clear link between how much cent of pupils in England neverchildren enjoy reading and their test results.The message is clear: if your students don’t read for enjoyment.”read outside of the classroom, there will be Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schoolsan impact on their potential achievement inreading and across the curriculum.Children who read for pleasure enjoy better opportunitiesthroughout life because they have gained a richervocabulary, more knowledge, critical thinking skills and aself-directed learning framework. Practitioners should beunapologetic about encouraging children to enjoy readingand focusing energy and expertise on nurturing positivereading behaviours, as both are vital to an individual’ssuccess at school and their economic and social capitallater in life.The ChallengeEnjoyment of readingThe number of children who enjoy reading has remainedlow for the past decade. This is a real cause for concernbecause of the proven link between test results andreading for pleasure. Studies also show that reading a “Reading for pleasure can easily soundvariety of literature independently by the age of 15 is thesingle biggest indicator of future success, outweighing like some kind of wishy-washy, soft option,negative factors such as socioeconomic background or while instructional stuff like learning-to-family situation. read through ‘synthetic phonics’… sounds tough and purposeful. In actual fact… research shows children who read for pleasure achieve better school performance than those that don’t.” Michael Rosen, writer and former Children’s Laureate Children who only read in class 45% are below average readers 45% are average readers 9% are above average readers4
2011/12 Schools Guide to LiteracyMotivation and relevance Success Reading for pleasure gets results Our Young Readers Programme (see page 17) supports reading motivation and enjoyment through fun and inspirational reading events. Primary school teacher Sue Barry found it had an incredible impact on a girl in her class. “When I was walking through the playground at break time I noticed one of the children who had taken part in the reading events. Shani was sitting in a corner byFor all of us working to support literacy, motivating pupils herself, completely absorbed in a book. I was surprisedis a real challenge. One proven way to overcome this is and delighted because both of her parents have very lowby redeﬁning reading so that it is relevant to pupils’ lives literacy levels and her four older brothers all left schooland aspirations, which often includes being part of a with below average reading. Since taking part in thesocial group. For schools, this means positioning reading sessions Shani’s reading level has increased and she isas a social experience for pupils and investing time in now on course to achieve the expected level for her age byunderstanding motivations both in and outside of school. the time she leaves primary school.”It also means putting teachers’ own reading preferencesto one side and connecting with what is out there See page 17 to run this programme in your school.for children. Using the power of peer groupsThe home environment Our Reading Champions initiative harnesses the power of peer groups to have a positive impact on reading. A recent Ofsted report praised its impact in one school. “The subject leader noticed that the reading ages of a small group of pupils reached a plateau in Years 3 and 4 and were not meeting her high expectations… Following classroom observations and discussions with staff, she discovered that daily reading practice ceased in Year 3 and the teachers relied on a weekly guided session and on… parents to listen to children reading at home. Although this was satisfactory for some of the pupils, progress forThere is a strong link between children’s literacy and what those not reading at home slowed signiﬁcantly. She set upgoes on in the home. Research has repeatedly shown that a group called ‘Reading Champions’ … using ideas from thethe extent to which parents create a home environment National Literacy Trust, and encouraged the older childrenthat encourages learning is a far more accurate predictor to lead reading sessions at lunchtimes. This was soof a pupil’s achievement than parental income or social popular that she extended it to breaks and before school.status. Ofsted’s recent Removing Barriers to Literacy report As a result, the reading ages of the pupils in the identiﬁedhighlights parental involvement in school systems for group increased at the same rate as those of their peers,teaching reading and spelling as a key component as did their conﬁdence in reading.”for success. Removing Barriers to Literacy, Ofsted, January 2011Engaging with parents can mean very different things See page 18 to run this initiative in your school.for every school and the skills needed by teachers arelikewise varied. Barriers for parents can be wide-rangingand include negative attitudes or fear of being judged;lack of conﬁdence in English or in the use of phonics;inappropriate expectations of a child’s development; andwork or time pressures. Some parents also need to beconvinced of the validity of a school’s approach to literacy.
Getting results in readingReading: Checklist for actionIs your school taking the right steps for success in reading?Go through the suggestions below. Getting started Building on success More support for you Have you Conducting an audit will Schools should track Our online evaluation tool reviewed identify gaps in provision. changes, new initiatives and for our Schools Network Schools should assess a their outcomes so that they members (see page 14) the school’s number of areas including can continue to develop their enables schools to assess approach to staff involvement, family approaches further. where they are and what reading for engagement, pupil-led they can do next. It includes pleasure? initiatives and resources. Inclusion in the School examples of practice in Improvement Plan will schools and clear goals for ensure that analysis of further improvement across ﬁndings is consistently put the board. There is also into practice and embedded the opportunity to apply to into structures. use the “Working with the National Literacy Trust” logo. How much Carrying out simple Schools should canvass pupil Take part in our annual questionnaires to learn more opinions regularly to identify research on literacy, receive do you about pupils’ attitudes to changes to attitudes towards free data about your know about reading and their reading and frequency of reading. pupils and compare results your pupils’ habits can transform results Schools could also proﬁle nationally. Find out more at attitudes if ﬁndings are used to individual pupils, particularly www.literacytrust.org.uk/ to reading engage pupils. those who struggle with research and reading their literacy. Schools Network members habits? (see page 14) can add their own questions to our annual research and receive personalised reports. They can also use our tools to proﬁle individual pupils and receive tailored advice on how to get them reading. Is there Improving staff knowledge To enable pupils to become Our Young Readers training of children’s literature fully independent readers, Programme (see page will ensure pupils ﬁnd and to maintain the interest 17) provides guidance on and support appropriate books or other of less conﬁdent readers, children’s literature, as well to ensure reading materials that will staff should help them to as session plans to help staff good staff hook them on reading and develop “choice strategies” recommend appropriate knowledge encourage less conﬁdent to select appropriate and literature and support of children’s readers to persevere. engaging reading materials their pupils to develop as for themselves. independent readers. literature? Our Schools Network (see page 14) provides you with free competitions for your pupils, with a focus on popular authors and stars from the world of sport.
2011/12 Schools Guide to Literacy Getting started Building on success More support for youDoes a The 2010 School Library Our research shows a Read the recommendationsschool Commission report found clear link between reading of the School Library that many school libraries attainment and school Commission report (led bylibrary sit are underutilised, despite library use. To have the the National Literacy Trustat the heart the clear beneﬁts of their biggest impact on literacy and the Museums, Librariesof reading services to pupils. Schools in the school, the School and Archives Council) atpromotion in should use the report’s Library Commission www.literacytrust.org.ukthe school? ideas for making the most recommends that school of their school library and/or libraries be fully integrated Join our Schools Network reading resources. into curriculum delivery. (see page 14) to receive resources for your library and to share ideas for how to make great use of it.Have you Peer pressure and social You can further harness Get involved with ouraddressed concepts have a dramatic “peer power” by using pupils Reading Champions initiative impact on attitudes to with inﬂuence among their (see page 18) which haspeer reading, especially among classmates to positively motivated over 10,000influence on boys. Develop strategies impact on the rest of pupils to promote reading inreading? to target non-readers by the school. their school. making reading relevant to their interests and lives. Reading Our training, developed with Champions partner schools, shows you Toolkit how to engage boys and transform reading across your school (see page 21). Getting oked boys ho ing on readDo you have Family support for reading Families sometimes need Our new Family Literacya programme is crucial. By inﬂuencing extra help and face-to- Wheel is suitable for a what happens outside of face support in order to wide range of parents andto engage school hours, schools can understand your school’s carers and can supportfamilies in see rapid improvements in approach and to help their discussions at engagementsupporting reading levels. children with reading. events or at progresstheir evenings (see page 13).children’s By running workshops for parents you can We provide training from ourreading? dramatically increase the Young Readers Programme time that is spent reading (see page 21) to show you with children. how to deliver fun and inspiring workshops for parents, including those who have low levels of literacy themselves.
Developing writing skillsDeveloping writing skillsTest results show that writing lags behindother literacy skills. In 2010 29% of childrendid not achieve the required level in writing atKey Stage 2 and there is a growing growinggender gap with a difference of 15 percentagepoints between boys and girls.Transcription and the challenges of composition makewriting arguably the most difﬁcult of literacy skills to teachand learn. However, transforming children’s attitudestowards writing and their perceptions of themselves assuccessful writers leads to signiﬁcant improvements inskills and attainment.In order to succeed as writers, children need to cultivatea love of words and language. They need to build a bankof stories, which they can draw on for ideas and languagepatterns, and develop oral storytelling skills that help themto internalise the language they need. Developing talk inthe classroom must therefore be a priority.The Challenge Enjoyment and relevanceWriting SATs results for the last four years 80 79 70 75 75 75% achieving the expected level 60 64 60 61 60 50 40 Enjoyment of writing tasks, positive attitudes to writing 30 and frequent participation in writing are as much prerequisites for success in writing during primary and 20 secondary phases as they are in reading, and the two 10 disciplines are intrinsically linked. A number of Ofsted reports have found that writing standards in schools are 2007 2008 2009 2010 adversely affected because pupils do not see the value of Girls’ Results Boys’ Results many of the tasks they are given.
2011/12 Schools Guide to Literacy Success Talk for Writing approach transforms school One school that has successfully used Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing is Trevithick Primary School in Camborne. Back in 1999 the school’s standards in English were criticised by Ofsted inspectors. More recently the school has been rated as “outstanding”. Part of this success is down to the consistent use of the Talk for Writing approach, which has enabled the children to learn stories and internalise language patterns to support their writing. This method has raised standards and the school is now nationally recognised for this work. Headteacher Sean Powers says, “I’m really delighted. It’s taken a lot of hard work from our staff and has been a huge achievement.” See page 20 to use this approach in your school. Ofsted ﬁnds most effective schools use talk to support writing “In the most effective schools visited,Assessment of writing inspectors saw teachers thread rich opportunities for speaking and listening into lessons. In turn, this led to improved standards in writing. Practical and creative activities triggered thoughtful discussions among pupils that helped them to shape their ideas and increase their vocabulary.”The National Literacy Trust has recently reviewed research Removing Barriers to Literacy, Ofsted, January 2011on the formative assessment of writing. We found thatassessment and feedback directly impact on the future See pages 20 and 21 for training on speaking and listeningteaching and learning of writing, but that this is an area for greater success across the curriculum.which continues to be problematic for many schools.Ofsted’s recent report into literacy also provided evidencethat marking and feedback without giving guidance isdemoralising and ineffectual. How best to encourage talkand critical reﬂection is an area which teachers tell us theyﬁnd hard. During 2011 and 2012 the National LiteracyTrust will be working with partner schools and the UK’sexperts on assessment to develop assessment strategiesto improve the teaching of writing.
Developing writing skillsWriting: Checklist for actionIs your school effectively supporting writing?Go through the suggestions below. Getting started Building on success More support for you Do you Writing is all about Cementing the transition We provide conferences (see use oral communication of thoughts from talk activity to page 22) and training on and ideas. It should be independent writing can Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing storytelling, supported initially by be powerfully supported by method (see page 20) which debate and stimulating pupils to develop using shared and guided has developed practical discussion and extend ideas by talk. writing activities for the activities to support narrative to support whole class or groups and non-ﬁction writing. writing? of pupils. Do you link Bridge the gap between the Look beyond the classroom Our Premier League Reading writing to classroom and children’s to further improve pupil Stars football resource uses real-life interests in order to increase attitudes to writing and the support of top football engagement. increase the frequency of players to inspire boys, and situations their writing. Try bringing a surprising number of girls, and Use digital technologies to in local role models such and includes lots of writing passions? provide a refreshing context as ﬁremen or staging an challenges (see page 16). for pupils who have struggled alien invasion to stimulate with traditional methods. creativity. We provide free competitions for your pupils which involve popular authors and sports stars. Are you Frequent and conﬁdent Encourage pupils to read as Read the section on reading readers internalise language writers by observing words, (see pages 4 to 7) to see how doing patterns which enable them phrases or techniques you can develop a reading everything to become strong writers. they ﬁnd powerful. Provide culture in your school. you can to Once they catch the “reading space in writing journals or support bug”, children will not only classroom displays for pupils Our Family Literacy Wheel reading? read more but will become to note down what they ﬁnd. (see page 15) provides more conﬁdent writers. tips for parent and carers to support all literacy disciplines, including writing.
2011/12 Schools Guide to LiteracySupporting speakingand listeningMany schools tell us they are increasingly The home environmentworried about the ability of their pupils to How many words has a four-year-old child beencommunicate. Speaking and listening skills exposed to?are the building blocks of literacy but haveperhaps been neglected with the assumption 50 million heard by a child with words professional parentsthat most children will simply “pick them up”.Schools have also struggled to assess these heard by a child 12 million from a disadvantagedskills. There is increasing recognition that words backgroundboth speaking and listening need active andconsistent support and that failing to focus on Subject teachers often report that achieving expectedthe development of these skills will also affect grades is difﬁcult because some pupils simply do not have sufﬁciently developed language to comprehendachievement in reading and writing and across meaning and apply their understanding. Children fromthe curriculum. disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to have a lower exposure to language and words which will inﬂuence their literacy development. This impact will follow theseThe Challenge children, ensuring they remain well behind their peers in later years at school.Conﬁdence A consistent approach in school and with parents and carers is a necessary precursor to raising standards across the curriculum. Impact on employability Conﬁdence and proﬁciency in talking and listening are alsoChildren and young people put a high value on spoken crucial for employability.communication, as do parents and teachers. Childrenwho debate and listen effectively are at the same timelearning and sharpening higher-order thinking skills suchas synthesis, analysis and evaluation.
Supporting speaking and listeningSupport for teachersThe school’s curriculum itself is the key to encouraginga high level of proﬁciency in spoken communication.Ofsted’s report on literacy says that in the most successfulschools “literacy was often a strong focus for lessons insubjects other than English and … debating, speakingpublicly, acting in plays and reading to an audience allfeatured regularly within the curriculum”.Teachers and teaching assistants can be introducedto speciﬁc questioning techniques that extend pupils’thinking. Schools can also support staff in effective Ofsted ﬁnds successful schools focusone-to-one and whole class communication byintroducing the consistent use of evidence-based on speaking and listeningstrategies and activities. “A common feature of the most successful schools… was the attention that they gaveSuccess to developing speaking and listening. TheBusiness volunteers help teachers recognised the paucity of languagedisengaged teenagers to develop skills and impoverished vocabulary of many ofcommunication skills their pupils and adjusted their curricula to ensure that they developed the speaking andOur unique Words for Work initiative brings together listening skills that were needed.”secondary school pupils and volunteers from Removing Barriers to Literacy¸Ofsted, January 2011the business community to explore the use of speakingand listening skills in the workplace through a series of See page 21 for support in developing a speaking andcreative workshops. listening strategy in your school.“Many of the students who were part ofthe initiative have really blossomed aroundthe school and are demonstrating theircommunication skills in and out of theclassroom. There is no doubt that theproject has had a positive impact on allthose involved.”Vice Principal, Rosedale College, Hayes, Middlesex“I’ve gained more confidence, I know now tobe more formal and sensible in somesituations and my communication skills haveimproved. Going for a job interview now I wouldknow how to talk: I’d be who I am but talkto some people differently. I would definitelyrecommend it.”Milad Hassan, Year 9 pupil, Rosedale College, Hayes, MiddlesexSee page 19 to run this initiative in your school.
2011/12 Schools Guide to LiteracySpeaking and Listening: Checklist for actionAre you taking the right steps to support speaking and listening?Go through the suggestions below. Getting started Building on success More support for you Is Often younger pupils Common barriers to general Our Family Literacy Wheel communication have not developed the literacy support in the (see page 15) is based being supported communication skills they home include conﬁdence, on evidence of barriers need in order to learn to read inappropriate expectations to supporting literacy in in the home? and write. Some families and time. the home, and provides need help understanding the parents with accessible importance of talking with Careful planning for regular activities they can use to their children from birth and engagement with parents extend their children’s ideas for supporting language and carers will ensure your speaking and listening development at any age. school’s approaches are skills. Never have any time? Pop a book in your bag for a bus journey Pop a book in your bag for a bus journey supported in the home. or the dentist. or the dentist. B Ch th o w Leave notes on the fridge or in lunch boxes. Leave notes on the fridge or in lunch boxes. ild th i ? y r ld ds Play travel games like I-Spy, naming Play travel games like I-Spy, naming ab ading Try erests re er t ad h i int ten ﬁlm characters or making up ea ten ﬁlm characters or making up bo n t hin t. stories in turns. alre our c talk is re Ma es – stories in turns. ou ok – fro ga eres to re e lib they s or m m ke ts. ad ab rary oo Encourage s to child t the lk ab the sc ou th as mag foot reading and ta on their e th itingading mos ou Y u lot ur bus s? az ball yo writing at home to ine to t of t wh en. vis re at s lin po give children the best the giv wh f g TV at’s co - keep of yo y em ke p m an ha ... it ading n go the Whe start in life – research es re d to us d co pp int in an t old ildre shows it’s the most re urag theiric. mpuening Try d en er important thing you ge e ch Sp el ter can do m for easy idea ideas Talking at So home helps children to do to an Use k to support reading, reading, better at an expla child o.u orlif ing d d TV ev s, sto n’t to your an As d lis in e.c ingfd excit ok u do ry writing, speaking speaking s. k school es gu eryd ion tenin thingabou on e bos – yo ide ay and listening ps line. ww e stu petit an ll he you vie ph read an g wi s to t their s an op c d wr lp for ff rary play ﬁrst. ry es on m for area muc on’t d wrportu Go for fre co iting their spea and fre n ap t sto tiviti w. loc ters to joi bo e? ite nities . k ou ac sh ok s al and D nd siv yo mpu have to h y rea – op - re readking A pin ad lib Fi pen ws g lis m ou d ing ec and be patient if they get stuck. Ch ts enus Help your child to sound out words Visit , co ur rs toge ex es el your family. ther tim f? most comfortable with - perhaps about . Tell stories in the language you feel they’ve written - give lots of praise. Ask your child to read a story or something to help? Not sure how Are you Tactics like classroom layout, Ensuring that speaking and Schools Network use of multimedia, and listening is a signiﬁcant part members (see page 14) developing paired and group work can of the school improvement can access our online communication all contribute to embedding strategy will ensure that speaking and listening skills across speaking and listening skills it is embedded in school audit which assesses the curriculum? across the curriculum. This structures, professional attitudes and practice will ultimately enable pupils development opportunities across the school and to read better and write and family engagement curriculum areas. more effectively too. activities. We provide training on developing communication skills (see page 21) for secondary teachers of all subjects and we offer a strategy workshop for key secondary teachers (see page 21). Do you develop Children and young people Engaging with a range of Secondary schools communication need to see communication external partners will help can work with local skills for “real in action in real-life scenarios. your pupils to adapt their businesses to transform Linking activities to interests vocabulary, tone and register the communication skills life”? and using digital technology for different situations and of pupils with our Words will increase motivation. audiences. for Work project (see page 19). We have found that making the link between their own communication skills and the world of work is incredibly motivating for pupils.
Support for youSupport for youNEW! Schools Network NEW! Leaders NetworkThe essential literacy network for teachers, school A network for individuals who offer literacy advice,librarians and senior management. support and consultancy services to schools. From £90 members will be able to access support including:For £75 per school per year up to ﬁve members ofstaff can access support including: literacy in the school literacy practice To join, visit www.literacytrust.org.uk/leaders on school stationery and signs (subject to criteria) conferences Website and newsletter and Micro Librarian Systems (see online for details of current discounts) Register with our website to receive a monthly email newsletter and access web content tailored to your personal interests, including competitions forTo join, visit www.literacytrust.org.uk/schools your students. Register free at www.literacytrust.org.uk/register www.literacytrust.org.uk/schools 020 7820 6276 email@example.com