Literacy at Sir John Talbot’s School and across The Marches Academy Trust:

At Sir John Talbot’s School we want every child to have freedom of choice when it comes to careers and be able to take up great opportunities offered to them. No child should be prevented from having a fulfilled life and future by not having the necessary skills, especially in literacy and communication skills. Parents will know that literacy is fundamental to their child’s well-being. It enables them to function in their everyday lives whilst giving them the lifelong skills to be able to communicate effectively, articulate their ideas and understand and interpret the ideas of others.

Literacy Aims and Objectives

Whole School Aims and Objectives 

We, as members of Sir John Talbot’s School, as part of The Marches Academy Trust, believe that literacy is important for several reasons:

  1. Literacy is among the major antidotes for poverty.
  2. Literacy makes your life better.
  3. Literate people have more choices in their work and personal lives, leading to greater freedom.
  4. Literacy is great at teaching you how to think successively – that is, making meaning one step at a time to then build a story. Narrative is a key feature of learning and participating within society.
  5. Literacy soon becomes the currency of other learning.

With regards to whole school literacy at Sir John Talbot’s School, the School Development Plan identifies the following areas as being the key literacy focuses for the next stage of our development:

Developing a culture of ‘Reading for Pleasure’ where all members of The Marches School and The Marches Academy Trust appreciate and champion the importance of reading.

To improve standards of academic writing so that all students can demonstrate a confident control of Standard English and that they are able to write grammatically correct sentences, deploy figurative language and analyse texts confidently.

These aspects will be monitored throughout the academic year to identify our strengths as a school and identify where we need to go next. Regular updates will be provided to all members of the school community to help share our journey together.

Writing isn’t solely about turning in an assignment on the due date.  Writing should be a means to uncover one’s own thinking in the process.”
[quoted in Hattie et al (2017)]

Sir John Talbot’s School and The Marches Academy Trust Writing Priorities 2019-20

In order to become successful writers, we aim for our students to:

  • Be taught how to summarise information in a manner suited to the varied demands across the curriculum.
  • Use and develop concept mapping as a means to understand the contexts and applications of ideas and key vocabulary.
  • Have consistency in feedback from teachers to develop literacy skills and promote clarity of written expression.
  • Be confident in using a range of discussion and text frames to support effective structures for extended writing.
  • Develop the skills to communicate like an expert in their respective subject areas through effective and clear teacher modelling.
  • Be exposed to a wide range of excellence in reading and writing to model what good/outstanding looks like across the curriculum.

Strategies that we are using this year:

Literacy lessons
Once a week, students in Year 7 and 8 have a dedicated literacy lesson. These lessons have a focus of the fortnight. In the first lesson, students focus on learning and revising key rules for punctuation and grammar.  It is then taught in the second lesson how to apply these skills successfully to their creative writing pieces.

Reading Families
A proportion of students from each year who are identified as having a reading age below that of their chronological age are placed into Reading Families. These groups have a maximum of 10 students in them and students all read the same book aloud. In these groups, teachers encourage reading with emphasis and learning new vocabulary. These groups are monitored and changes are made on a termly basis.

Weekly Literacy Focus
As part of a whole school strategy to focus on consolidating basic literacy skills, a weekly task will be completed in AM Form Time that: links to common misconceptions and improving academic writing skills (Term 1);  consolidates reading skills (Term 2); and, explores vocabulary and spoken language skills (Term 3).  The activities will be linked to SMSC and Citizenship themes throughout the year.

Additional Support
Parents quite often ask for further advice about how they can support their child with their writing at home.  Below are some resources that can be used to revise techniques and terminology from primary school to consolidate and revisit them as students are reviewing and preparing for assessments within school.  Similarly, we have compiled a range of sources that may be useful to help improve aspects such as handwriting and spelling.  If you feel that you need further support, please feel free to contact us at the school.

Purposes of Writing Conventions and Structure Frames
Toolkit for Effective Writing

Supporting your child at home

Research proves the importance of the family home in raising literacy levels. Here are five suggestions you could adopt in your home:

  1. Have a range of books at home (just having books around your house has a massive impact). Encourage your child to read every day at home and to visit the LRC at school or your local library. It is suggested that students read for at least 30 minutes per day in order to truly develop their skills.
  2. Talk to your child about what he or she has read recently.
  3. Read yourself! Be a literacy role model.
  4. Help your child to proofread their written work. Assist her/him to check spellings and punctuation. Encourage your child to ask for clarification when unsure of a spelling or the use of a punctuation mark. See the following website for more information:
  5. Read the news together at least twice a week and discuss current events.

Please access our Parent Guide for literacy: ‘How do I support my child’s literacy?’ here: Literacy Support

Parent guide supporting the improvement of handwriting
Parent guide to help improve spelling at home

Helpful websites:

If you would like more information about literacy at Sir John Talbot’s School or you would like to recommend a fantastic book to other parents, please contact our Literacy Coordinator, Mrs S Harper: