Literacy at the heart of a deep, rich and sequential curriculum

Literacy at the heart of a deep, rich and sequential curriculum

Every child should be able to read for pleasure and to access knowledge with depth and clarity, speak with passion and fluency and write with style and fluidity. This ambition should be at the heart of every school’s vision and rationale for curriculum design.  Each subject across the curriculum, at each phase, key stage and in every element of learning there is an imperative to read, write or speak. It is therefore, every teacher’s responsibility to focus on how learners are developing and using their key skills in literacy.

Creating the role of the Literacy Lead

Words and patterns of language build meaning and create structure for learners.

How do schools, both in the primary and secondary phases ensure that the implementation of a systematic programme for ensuring high levels of literacy is embedded across the whole curriculum? In the early years and key stage 1 this will include expertise in the school’s chosen phonics programme and how this works in synergy with other important pedagogies. For key stage 2, 3 and above the role of the literacy coordinator requires a deep understanding of how important competence in literacy is across all subjects.

Their role is to build a strategy that ensures all teachers can help pupils read fluently, comprehend what they read and articulate through the spoken and written word to demonstrate they have understood, can infer, explain, analyse and evaluate the knowledge they are gaining. The literacy lead needs to communicate what progress looks like for each age group, ensure sufficient resources are available, build a picture of pupils who are falling behind, identify those who need more challenge and lastly but so very importantly coordinate training for all the teaching and support staff.  Our online webinar will provide a wealth of resources and strategies.

Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Co-ordinator – weaving literacy through the curriculum

The Reading Framework – Teaching the Foundations of Literacy

The Department of Education have recently published (July 2021) The Reading Framework – Teaching the Foundations of Literacy . Within this document there is a wealth of advice and guidance on how to ensure that reading is prioritised across all subjects. It is mainly aimed at early primary school leaders and how they can organise a collaborative and highly focused approach to ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the quest for all pupils to be able to read and therefore access the curriculum. It is called The Reading Framework but there is a clear emphasis on the importance of reading in influencing pupils to write and speak as part of their growing depth of understanding from reading.

The effective teaching of reading, requires not just a systematic synthetic phonics programme but its consistent implementation….and a recognition of the importance of talk, of accurate assessment, and of building a love of stories and reading. Headteachers need to prioritise reading and make it their mission to make sure every child in their school becomes a fluent reader.

Foreword from the The Reading Framework July 2021

The importance of talk on the road to comprehension

Talking is an essential element of learning to read, to deepen understanding  and to build a bank of essential vocabulary. The number of words a child has heard by the time they start school is often an indicator of how well they will do in developing skills in reading and as part of their ability as writers. Schools play an important role in helping to bridge the gap between those children who do not come from language rich homes and those that do. Teachers must consciously focus on the absolute importance of talk on the road to helping all pupils to become fluent readers not just in English or literacy lessons but across all learning in every subject and beyond.

Talking and listening allows learners to make connections and weave their thoughts into a deeper understanding of the written word.

The emphasis  in the Reading Framework is primarily aimed at those who teach in the early years or in key stage 1. However the guidance given and some of the principles apply to pedagogy at any stage along the education trajectory. Thinking out loud, listening attentively, validating new vocabulary, asking deep and rich questions, explaining why things happen, making connections, all support a deepening of understanding, the acquisition of knowledge and greater competence in reading and comprehending.

Phonics play their part along with a range of other strategies

There is some evidence that suggests that explicitly teaching phonics especially in the early years and key stage 1 does have a positive impact on helping pupils to learn to read. The Education Endowment Foundation in their research on the efficacy of explicit phonics teaching emphasise that phonics are important but they should form a part of a much wider approach to learning how to read, how to understand what is being read and develop a love of reading and the pleasure it can bring to all of us.

Learning to read is a highly complex undertaking that is underpinned by two fundamental processes:

  • word reading through the recognition and decoding of words, and
  • comprehension of texts through a range of knowledge and skills.

It is the skilled combination of these two dimensions that facilitates all reading success.

Caroline Binton: Phonics: Mastering the basics of reading (EEF)

There is clear advice from several research studies that the teaching of systematic phonics should be combined with the development of fluency and comprehension. The need to ensure all teachers have the knowledge and pedagogical skills to create the right depth and balance is essential. Teachers also need to focus on pace, engagement and responsiveness.

Literacy is an essential element of all learning. Pause to reflect on how to create a culture that allows all subject specialists to see the role they play in creating a culture of positive reading for pleasure and learning.

Early reading is crucial for all pupils so that they can begin their curriculum journey and become  successful learners. Using texts that tell stories, build suspense, capture the imagination all help to make the experience of learning to read enjoyable. Using non-fiction ignites curiosity, extends knowledge and widens experiences and must also match the pupil’s own interests. Developing fluency in reading is a complex process. Exposure, accurate understanding, learning the meaning of new vocabulary and revisiting texts all helps. The magic formula is in the pedagogy and how teachers talk, read aloud, listen and build new language to add to existing language in a classroom full of rich texts and innovative learning strategies.

For all those who have the role of Literacy Lead or Literacy Coordinator our training course will give you all you need to enhance your role and create for you the strategy to make a significant difference.

Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator – weaving literacy through the curriculum – An online webinar

The clear message from many researchers and the latest paper The Reading Framework from the Department for Education recommend a literacy lead or co-ordinator. Focusing on literacy across every aspect of learning, in every subject and throughout the learning journey has lasting benefits for the pupil, for the school and for the community.