How do we enhance student learning through literacy?

Literacy Strategy

In response to the current educational climate, our priorities are to support students in being successful learners.

We believe the following three principles are key to our students’ success, and therefore our strategy will focus on:

  • Literacy: a core focus is ensuring our students becoming strong readers, effective communicators (written, verbal and internal), and can read to learn
  • Meta-cognition and self-regulation: we will support learners to respect their learning, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as regulate their own motivation, resilience and emotions
  • Consistency: we will ensure that students can rely on a quality education and consistent access to relationships, support and resources, regardless of teacher, subject, academic ability, socio-economic status or past


‘Literacy is the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential’  Kofi Annan - Secretary General of the United Nations 1997-2006

‘Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible’  Barack Obama - US President 2009-2017

Literacy is key to learning and enables students to access, explore and utilise written and spoken language successfully in order to broaden their understanding and excel.  Through our taught and wider curriculum we aim to ensure that all students:

  • read, write and communicate with fluency and confidence
  • have access to and are skilled in the use of high level vocabulary
  • can comprehend complex academic texts
  • are able to express their knowledge and ideas effectively through both written and verbal communication
  • have access to additional literacy support and resources to develop their skills where needed

How do we do this?

In order to ensure that the literacy skills of our students are continuously developed and enhanced, we focus on four key areas:

  • The development of literacy through the taught curriculum

Using research based evidence from the Educational Endowment Fund (EEF), we seek to embed literacy driven practice in all of our subjects and in all of our classrooms.  In this way, all of our students have access to a curriculum that develops their literacy skills and enhances their learning.  Please click the following link for further information:

Using the EEFs guidance on improving literacy, the taught curriculum will include disciplinary literacy, targeted vocabulary instructions, reading complex academic texts, breaking down complex tasks, writing and reading, structured talk and literacy interventions (EEF recommendation 1-7). Please click the following link for further information:

Disciplinary literacy associated to each subject has been shared with students, in order to improve their vocabulary and ability to interpret texts. Staff CPD has focused on the use of tier 2 vocabulary, and using high levels of language in teaching (EEF recommendation 1 and 2).

Subject leads have also incorporated the development of literacy into their Department development Plans, ensuring targeted subject specific actions to develop literacy through the taught curriculum.

  • The development of oracy

Underpinned by the key principles advocated by the UK Education Charity Voice 21, our school tutorial programme centres on the development of oracy and the ability to articulate and engage with others through spoken language.  Teaching our students to become confident speakers and avid listeners is key to their language development and empowers them through enabling them to express themselves and communicate effectively (EEF recommendation 2 and 6).

As Voice 21 states: ‘Oracy is a powerful tool for learning; by teaching students to become more effective speakers and listeners we empower them to better understand themselves, each other and the world around them. It is also a route to social mobility, empowering all students, not just some, to find their voice to succeed in school and life’.

The development of oracy is also evident throughout our taught curriculum, with examples of literacy strategies including: breaking down complex tasks verbally, opportunities for structure talk and high levels of language used in teaching (EEF recommendation 2, 4 and 6).  Teachers recognise specialised vocabulary and this is evident in lesson panning and delivery. Teachers and TAs understand how students benefit from metacognitive talk and self-talk. For example, teachers consistently scaffold and promote self-explanation. Modelling talk and the use of vocabulary is consistently promoted via explicit teaching.

  • Additional targeted support

We have good knowledge of the common barriers to academic reading and adapt and implement interventions to support all students. When a student is identified as struggling with their literacy they are given extra support.

In Year 7 and 8 all of our students have access to and take part in the Reading Plus Programme.  Led by ‘Reading Solutions UK’, the Reading Plus Programme ‘supports pupils to become curious, confident, lifelong readers’ by offering access to reading and comprehension activities that are targeted and personalised for each individual child.  In doing so, Reading Plus can enhance a student’s fluency and comprehension as well as progressively exposing them to more complex reading texts. Please click the following link for further information:

Early indications show that reading interventions established in KS3 has improved the reading abilities of students in Years 7 and 8. Reading Plus reports an average gain of 1.7 levels (where each level is representative of an academic years reading ability) in Year 7. Most notably, is the improvements in reading age amongst disadvantaged pupils.

In school programmes for students who need further support to develop their literacy skills are in place and are provided by our SEND department.  These programmes focus on small group or one to one provision that enables students to further develop their skills in reading, writing and comprehension.  Full details of the individualised support programmes that we offer can be found via the SEND information via the following links below:

Additional support is offered to targeted students in Year 7 in the form of a guided reading intervention. Here students’ ability to read and comprehend texts is developed in a small bespoke group. During this intervention students read aloud or independent and discuss what has been read (EEF recommendation 3 and 6).

Our EAL provision offers bespoke literacy development for students who exhibit a range of literacy abilities. Students who also access mainstream curriculum, receive targeted intervention. Reading Plus is also used with many students to increase their access to reading material that is appropriate for their reading abilities. Full details of the individualised support pathways that we offer can be found via the EAL Provision information. Please click the following link for further information:

  • Accessibility

For students to acquire a love of reading, access to high quality reading materials is crucial.  Our school library is at the centre of this and aims to provide students with the opportunity to encounter and engage with a range of fiction and nonfiction texts.  Through the use of digital technologies, particularly in Year 7 and 8 we aim to engage students with a wider reading library, accessing digital and audio books with ease.  In response to recent global events, our ‘No Privilege Just Words’ reading campaign began in 2020 and has provided all schools, including our own, with access to texts written by black and ethnic minority authors.  This campaign aims to educate the next generation to equip them with knowledge and information regarding race.  Through access to over 20 books within our school library, we hope to empower our students to think about matters of race in an informed manner, with empathy.  Further details of this campaign can be found here:

The relaunch of our Library will supports students’ accessibility to literature and extra curriculum opportunities. Soon, all students will engage in the library’s lending service, ensuring every child has access to high quality literature. At bishop Stopford’s School, we endeavour to cultivate a love of reading, and an ethos of reading for pleasure. In addition to a vast array of reading material, the library also offers a space for students to study independently in a peaceful environment daily. Our librarian offers extra-curricular activities and support for students including: KS3 book club, homework support club, silent independent study sessions and a poetry club. Our literacy ethos has increased the profile of reading around school, and staff are encouraged to share what they are currently reading using school-wide displays.

Our subject specialist post-graduate English teaching assistant supports classes and targeted students academically in English lessons. Working with key groups of students in synergy with core lessons, provides further support for students on an individual basis. TAs deliver some well-chosen literacy interventions that effectively supplement classroom learning.