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.
We've recently moved our library to a large, newly-refurbished room, to cope with growing demand from students. The library has a huge range of fiction and non-fiction books, with fiction organised by genre (such as crime, adventure, classics, fantasy) and non-fiction categorised by the dewey decimal system.
We also have the HGA literary canon - a selection of books that are recommended for students to read before they leave school (see below) - and a Equality and Diversity section featuring BAME authors and topics relating to LGBTQ, Gender and Disability.
There is also a selection of subject-specific study guides for the students to use, and around 30 computers for homework or research.
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.
Every student has a reading journal to start working their way through the canon and reading the books, and we give out prizes in awards assembly for those that have read the most books on the canon. Teachers also read books on the canon to discuss with students and review them for a 'Canon book of the week'.
Drop Everything and Read
Once a fortnight, every student in KS3 ‘Drops Everything and Reads.’ This means that whatever lesson is on their timetable, they spend it reading their own personal reading book whilst their teacher reads too. We believe it is crucial that students read fiction independently and regularly to develop a love of reading and literature.
“For at least an hour every fortnight, the whole Academy, staff as well as students, will drop everything and read to encourage reading for pleasure,” said Head of Academy, Steve West.
DEAR lessons always end with 20 minutes of written reflection or spoken oracy to build student’s spoken communication skills.
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 how important it is to read regularly.
At Harris Garrard Academy, we recognise how important vocabulary acquisition is not only to students’ reading ability, but also to their overall expression and academic attainment.
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 through challenging fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as extending their vocabulary to include a wide variety of Tier-2 vocabulary. All students are supported in their use of Bedrock Vocabulary, as well as receiving explicit vocabulary instruction across the school and curriculum.