Literacy at Norham


Here at Norham, we believe that literacy is fundamental to our pupils’ success, 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. It is also vital in enabling students to develop their future in whatever way they desire. We want our students to use literacy as a tool to help them to be successful at whatever they put their minds to.


There are four strands to literacy:

  • speaking

  • listening

  • reading

  • writing


Our pupils use and develop their literacy skills in all of their lessons and examined subjects. Pupils are now assessed 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 Accelerated Reading lessons, which happen every week in Year 7 and 8 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 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 at levels suitable to their ability and find a space to work and read.


When pupils are competent readers, they will be great writers. Writing also runs through our literacy learning. Pupils’ writing is developed in Englishh lessons through a “Big Write” lesson, where they are provided with a picture stimulus and are encouraged to write in an engaging and sustained way, producing a successful written outcome, in a variety of forms.We encourage pupils to participate in regular writing events and plan 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. We work in collaboration with the oracy team at Norham to ensure a consistent approach in ensuring pupils develop these skills to the best of their ability.


Events promoting literacy at Norham


In recent years we have held a fantastic range of events to develop our 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.

Further events and activities are planned to take place over the coming year at Norham and we hope to attract a range of students to participate and to organise these.


Literacy at Home


Many people assume that if their children have developed their reading ability and skills at primary school, there is little or no need to worry about their reading once they have reached secondary school. At Norham we believe we all need to be doing all we can to continue to boost literacy levels both at school and also at home.


Many pupils make good progress with reading at primary school but once they reach secondary education they don’t continue reading in the same way 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, it  doesn’t mean that they then continue to make the same amount of progress following on into secondarty education.


It is important that pupils have a reading age that lies at a similar level with their chronological 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 activities we promote and offer in school.


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:


“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!”