At Harris Garrard Academy we understand how important good literacy is for your child's development and life choices.
Developing skills in literacy is about learning to use language to express, explore and communicate our thoughts, ideas and feelings with others. We do this through speaking, listening, reading and writing, and getting better at literacy means making progress in each of these areas.
We owe it to our students to give them the very best literacy skills in order to improve their chances in life, and to enable them to succeed in whatever path they choose. We adopt a cross-curricular focus to promoting good literacy amongst our pupils and staff. We believe that promoting literacy is a whole academy responsibility and not just that of the English department. We also invite you to join us in developing your child's literacy at home.
Our Literacy Policy can be downloaded from our Teaching & Learning page.
HGA Literary Canon
Harris Garrard Academy has its own 'Literary Canon' to promote a love of reading canonical texts. There are 100 incredible books on the Literary Canon list: 50 for Key Stages 4 and 5, and 50 for Key Stage 3.
Drop Everything and Read
Once every half-term, every student in KS3 ‘Drops Everything and Reads.’ At three points throughout the day, no matter what lesson is on their timetable, students spend fifteen minutes reading their personal reading book alongside their teacher. We believe it is crucial that students read fiction independently and regularly to develop a love of reading and literature.
Literacy in Action
Once a week, Year 7 students have a ‘Literacy in Action’ lesson whereby they build upon the language skills developed at KS2 and apply them to their reading of a work of fiction read together as a class. This allow student the opportunity to develop their understanding of grammatical constructs and language features whilst improving analytical skills more relevant to their learning at KS3.
Each week, KS3 students spend 40 minutes engaging in literacy activities such as word scrambles, word roots, etymology as well as tasks involving more lateral thinking such as riddles and word puzzles. The literacy activities are specifically designed to work in conjunction with words included in the Bedrock Vocabulary learning cycles to help students broaden their vocabulary and practise applying them to both written and spoken communication.
Once a week, a 40-minute period of tutor time is dedicated to students reading their ‘Tutor Group Reader’ as a class along with their tutor. This creates a shared reading experience amongst the tutor group, and the texts selected are chosen for their enjoyment, challenge, and capacity to build cultural capital. After reading as a tutor group, students read their own independent reading books to pursue their own interests. We have committed weekly time to this to emphasise to students the importance of reading regularly.
At Harris Garrard Academy we value oracy as a vital tool for improving students overall Literacy. Oracy is about being able to express yourself well across a range of contexts and having the vocabulary to say what you want to say, along with the ability to structure your thoughts so that they make sense to others. We have oracy strategies embedded into our teaching and learning.
Some of the ways we promote oracy include Debate Mate, a 17-week programme that teaches key skills through an after-school debate programme, and the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge, an annual speaking competition aimed at Year 10 students. In addition, 'Talk for Learning' opportunities are planned into every lesson before Applied Learning Time, and departments provide talk and oracy frames for students to use to structure their discussions. Further details can be found in our Literacy Policy which can be downloaded from our Teaching & Learning page.
Every child in the academy has access to Bedrock Vocabulary as their weekly home-learning. Bedrock Vocabulary is a computer-based e-learning website which develops students reading skills of challenging fiction and non-fiction texts, alongside extending their vocabulary to include a wide variety of Tier-2 vocabulary. All students are supported in their use of Bedrock vocabulary, alongside explicit vocabulary instruction across the school and curriculum. At Harris Garrard, we recognise how important vocabulary acquisition is to not only students’ reading ability, but also their overall expression and academic attainment.
The Literacy Intervention Toolkit (LIT) is an extraordinarily effective teaching programme that employs evidence based strategies proven to increase progress in English and the wider curriculum for students identified as being most in need of support based on our NGRT testing. Students will receive intervention provided by trained specialists who will support students in reading comprehension, thinking and learning skills, which will strengthen their confidence so that they can work with greater independence and access the wider curriculum more successfully.
DebateMate aims to tackle educational disadvantages through the running of debating workshops in collaboration with schools. Students will have the opportunity to improve speaking and listening attainment and practise using higher-order thinking skills whilst improving non-cognitive abilities such as confidence, teamwork and leadership. Alongside reading and writing, oracy is a valuable strand of literacy that determines the ability of students to communicate effectively using spoken language. During the 17-week programme, mentors will help students develop the ability to speak eloquently, articulate ideas and thoughts, influence through talking, listen to others and have the confidence to express their views effectively. Students will then have the opportunity to put their skills to the test by entering two of the largest debating competitions in the UK.
Our new and improved library will afford students every opportunity to indulge their love for reading. With soft-furnishings, newly designed browsing areas, study-hub spaces and over 30 new computers there is something for the avid reader and studious worker alike. All students will receive an induction into the new learning space and will benefit from the larger, more comfortable working environment on offer. Books are always available to check-out and read at home whilst larger reference books are accessible to students conducting research for coursework and projects; all students at Harris Garrard will have access to our wide range of books whenever they need them, a sign of our dedication in supporting our students with their scholarship.
We have recently made considerable efforts to diversify our current library collection to reflect the values of inclusivity and acceptance promoted at the Harris Garrard Academy. We have expanded our collection by nearly 200 titles promoting authors, works and themes from black and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, a wider range of gender identities and those with disabilities. We want reading to be open to everyone, regardless of background, and hope to continuously improve our collection’s accessibility whilst nurturing our students’ readership.
Additionally, every Year 7 class will also have one ‘Library Lesson’ each week where they spend time reading their personal reading book or browsing our extensive collection, asking advice from our library staff before selecting and borrowing a new and challenging text. Students are encouraged to write book reviews, make recommendations to each other, and reflect on their own reading record.