Developing and ensuring that all our students possess the ability to communicate effectively both in their writing and through their verbal communication is paramount at St. Joseph’s. We believe that good literacy skills has a direct correlation to academic success. The urgency of ensuring a strong focus on Literacy throughout St. Joseph’s has become increasingly important with the requirements of the new National Curriculum. Within English, specifically, the types of texts that students are required to analyse are much more challenging in terms of language, themes and contextual relevance. However these changes are not limited to the English department, the examination questions across different subject areas are using more advanced vocabulary making comprehension challenging for many low ability students. Therefore, we are focused on embedding literacy throughout our curriculum.
Encouraging good reading practice and fostering an appreciation for literature has been an ongoing enterprise at St. Joseph’s. It is fundamental that our students are exposed to reading while they are at school because this will help to encourage their appreciation for books and will hopefully make them lifelong readers. Therefore, we will be continuing with our ‘reading buddies’ scheme where our older students support our younger students to improve their reading. Furthermore, the Year 7 tutor groups will be beginning an exclusive reading programme. Each Year 7 tutor group has been assigned a novel that they read together in tutor time and complete weekly chapter quizzes. The results are recorded and the students then receive prizes based on how well they have done. This provides the younger students with a focused text that is geared towards their age group. It also allows for them the opportunity to hear good reading from their form tutor. The tutors are also able to develop thematic discussions that arise from the texts.
Finally, we have placed a great emphasis on developing our students’ vocabulary. It is important for young people to be equipped with the tools necessary to succeed outside of St. Joseph’s. Therefore, we have started the ‘Word of the Week’ or ‘WOW’ challenge where our students are introduced to a new academic word. The students have been taken up this challenge with vigour and are endeavouring to use the ‘WOW’ word in their daily interactions. Our hope is to create a language rich community where good vocabulary choices are celebrated.
Throughout the 2018-2019 we hope to encourage literacy throughout St. Joseph’s and develop a community that desires to improve their own literacy; making them lifelong learners.