Love Literacy

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  Frederick Douglass

At Norham we want our pupils to be free. We want them to be able to choose whatever future they desire and have the necessary skills to be successful. Literacy is fundamental to our pupils’ lives, enabling them to function in their everyday lives whilst giving them the lifelong skills to be able to communicate and create, to articulate their ideas and understand and interpret the ideas of others.

The simplest definition for literacy is the ability to read and write, but in total there are four strands of literacy:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • reading
  • writing


Our pupils use and develop their literacy skills in all of their lessons and examined subjects. Pupils are now marked on the quality of their written responses in their examinations across almost all GCSE subjects.

We believe that literacy begins with reading. At the heart of our literacy strategy is ‘reading for pleasure’. We promote reading through a range of events and through Drop Everything And Read, which happens at least once a week in all English lessons. Most importantly, we talk to our pupils about what they are reading and what we are reading. Having adults as literacy role models is essential to a child’s development.

Our new beautiful LRC is at the heart of the school and at the heart of literacy learning in Norham. It is an outstanding resource where pupils can borrow a wide range of reading material and find a space to work and read.

When pupils are competent readers, they will be great writers. Writing also runs though our literacy learning. We hold regular writing events and competitions to promote writing and we believe that it is every teacher’s responsibility to develop their pupils’ writing ability.

Speaking and listening aids the development of both reading and writing and is in itself incredibly important. As such, we teach speaking and listening skills explicitly and run a range of highly successful speaking events.


Exciting events that promote a level of literacy!

In recent years we have held a fantastic range of events to develop out pupils reading, writing, speaking and listening. These include:

  • Celebrations of World Book Day;
  • A whole school reading day;
  • Visiting writers and workshops;
  • Writing competitions;
  • Reading groups and More!



Many people assume that providing their children have mastered reading at primary school there is little or no need to worry about their reading once they have reached secondary school. This really is a misconception and we all need to be doing all we can to boost literacy levels both at school and also at home.

Many pupils have made good progress with reading at primary school but once they reach secondary education they don’t tend to continue reading with the same intensity that they have done before. Very few children read to their parents once they are beyond the age of eleven. Unfortunately, just because a child has made good progress at primary school doesn’t mean that they then continue to make linear progress beyond.

It is of paramount importance that pupils have a reading age that is commensurate with their chronological reading age. Without this, it is very difficult for them to achieve success at GCSE level. 68% of all pupil mistakes made in GCSE examinations are as a result of pupils misunderstanding the questions asked.

Top Tips for Boosting Literacy at Home

1. Talk drives literacy – encourage your children to talk at home and try to stretch their vocabulary. Ask them about their day at school and their learning as a starting point for dialogue.

2. Let your children see you reading – it is particularly important that boys see adult males reading as it is easy for them to assume that reading is the preserve of women and is not ‘cool’. Take an interest in what your children are reading – if they are enjoying a particular author, book or genre, then read it too and you can share the experience with them.

3. Encourage your children to read aloud – reading aloud helps cement literacy skills more than anything else.

4. Don’t assume, because your children read fluently, that they actually comprehend all they read.  Ask them questions to check their understanding of more challenging vocabulary.

5. Whilst it is obviously better for children to read anything rather than nothing, it is particularly important that children read works of fiction. Fiction really extends vocabulary and comprehension – particularly for boys.

6. Continue to visit the local library and encourage your children to go with you.

7. If electronic devices are the only way your children want to read then do encourage them to use Kindle or similar e-readers, many smart phones now have free apps to download.

8. It is easy for children to become reliant on IT for writing. Sadly, this does not prepare all pupils for impending examinations where spelling, punctuation and grammar are of considerable importance. Encourage them to write, at least from time to time, by hand. Thank you letters provide a regular opportunity for most children to put pen to paper.

9. Encourage your child to participate in events like ‘World Book Day’ or encourage them to take part in the school book club.

10. Make sure that your child reads during the summer holiday period. Pupils often regress in terms of their reading ability during this time, which puts them at a disadvantage in accessing the curriculum when they return to school in September.

Take a look at the short film clip Ten Minutes a Day Could Change Everything  showing why everyone should take time to read together.


Helpful websites:


Need help with spelling?


Useful advice and free worksheets to improve spelling for adults and children: - All year 7, 8 and 9 pupils have access via logins



“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”