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Walney School


Literacy Policy

  1. Always insist on full sentences (verbally and written).
  2. Talk, model, write.
  3. Check your work.


The future success of all our students rests predominantly on their ability to become proficient and fluent readers. (Quigley: Closing the Vocabulary Gap)

Knowing how to read, how to decode the words is not the problem for the vast majority of our students. Their problem is that they lack the vocabulary and knowledge to understand what they are reading.  Research says that in order to fully understand a text you need to understand 95% of the vocabulary. 

The development of reading is a priority for us.  There are several strands to this:

  • Reading intervention for our bottom 20% of readers delivered through reading programmes outside of subject lessons (for example, Lexonik Leap/Advance)
  • Reading intervention for our weaker readers – those who can decode but lack the background knowledge and vocabulary to understand what they are reading (for example through the after-school reading programme)
  • Encouraging all students to read for pleasure, including pushing our best readers to challenge themselves further (form time, library)
  • Subject specific development of reading texts which will support subject learning, supported by focus on subject specific vocabulary.

Non-fiction is often difficult – most students will be unfamiliar with the conventions of non-fiction, the vocabulary can be highly academic, and the syntax is often far more complex than the spoken word or fiction texts. (Howell: The Revision Revolution)

Subjecting students to a range of non-fiction broadens their knowledge, vocabulary and familiarity with complex sentence structures and the conventions of different non-fiction texts. (Howell: The Revision Revolution)

Supporting Reading in the Classroom

  •  Always read WITH students. If students read a text alone, ensure that you read this with them afterwards.
  • Read aloud to the class.
  • Experiment with ways of reading aloud – identify students to read aloud, read around the room, choral reading.
  • Establish reading pairs – students read aloud to each other.
  • Students can record themselves reading aloud and listen back to develop oracy skills (intonation, pitch, volume, pace etc).
  • Discuss what has been read – ask questions to establish understanding.
  • Ask students to predict what might happen in a text / what genre features a text might feature.
  • Pre-teach tier 2 and 3 vocabulary in a text – discuss meanings / provide a glossary before and after you read.
  • Activate prior learning (What background knowledge do you have that relates to this text?)
  • Encourage metacognition (What questions did you ask when you were reading? What did you do when you came across a word you didn’t know?)
  • Copy texts on coloured paper for identified students.
  • Liaise with the school librarian to identify reading resources to support in your                         
  • Know who your weakest readers are and check in with them regularly!

Scaffolding does not involve dumbing down through offering pupils easier work, but rather providing them with the means to reach into the material. Scaffolding can be achieved primarily through talk.

Listening ability is key to reading ability and does not have to be slowed down by decoding – pupils should have access to material that is above their decoding ability (Myatt: Back on Track).

  •  Vocabulary
  • Tier 1 vocabulary = vocabulary in speech
  • Tier 2 = mainly in texts & found in different subject areas
  • Tier 3 = subject specific terminology
  •  Vocabulary is one of the biggest reasons for the achievement gap. (Howell: The Revision Revolution)
  • What can we do in the classroom?
  1. Decide on key words and give plenty of opportunities to practise using these words in oral discussions and in writing.
  2. Pick out important words from texts and teach them explicitly.
  3. Teach a range of tier 2 and tier 3 words.
  4. Include vocabulary in cumulative low stakes testing and set vocabulary for homework.
  • Talk is a well-established solution for developing vocabulary. (Quigley: Closing the Vocabulary Gap)
  • It takes between 4 and 10 exposures for a new word to be established in long-term memory.
  • Oracy
  • Talk is the sea upon which all else floats. (Britton: Language and Learning)
  • Oracy is the foundation of effective reading and writing.
  • Oracy is a natural process that struggling readers and writers engage in daily, which makes it perfect for ‘low floor, high ceiling’ activities that are accessible for all but can be extended to high levels. (Myatt: Back on Track)
  • So we should be reading aloud texts which are above the reading age of our students – they are able to listen and understand at a higher level.