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Literacy & Numeracy

Our school is committed to raising standards of communication in all its pupils through a coordinated approach.   Staff in every subject insist on the accuracy of literacy and numeracy skills so that both verbal and written communication is clear. This cross-curricular approach ensures our students are aware of the skills needed to make progress, gain qualifications and be confident and accurate communicators in their adult lives.

Literacy: Reading

year 9 reading

Independent and shared reading is one of the ways students make progress, therefore reading skills are reinforced in all subjects, not just during English lessons. Each year throughout Key Stage 3 (Y7, Y8 and Y9) students complete a reading age test, their result is written onto the first page of their planner. Ideally, a student’s reading age should be not too dissimilar from their actual age but many fall slightly short of this. If a student has a reading age below 9 years and 6 months then specific intervention will be organised, Mrs. Hall can provide further information about the support we implement.

Fortnightly reading skills lessons, where students spend time reading for pleasure alongside completing activities which aim to improve their ability to decode and comment on difficult or unfamiliar texts, continue throughout Key Stage 3 alongside a number of other whole school reading initiatives:

  • ‘Book Buzz’ where every Year 7 student receives a induction to the LRC and a free book.
  • ‘Read for My School’  all of Year 7 and 8 participate in this national competition, several of our students have won vouchers, books and certificates, last year Paige Cronin won the North East award for the best book review and we hosted the regional awards at our school.
  • Read ON Get ON Challenges – students in Year 9 and above are encouraged and rewarded for completing challenges across a number of subjects.
  • Reading Groups – these are available for every year group and they are student led.

The following websites provide useful advice and suggested texts:

Recent studies have shown that 10-16 year olds who read for pleasure do better at school, not only in subjects like English and the Humanities but also in problem solving subjects such as Maths too.

Literacy: Writing

It is important that students take pride in the presentation and accuracy of their written work therefore all staff promote the literacy checklist.

This checklist is in each student planner along with a list of the 100 commonly misspelled words. Students are encouraged to check their work using these two documents when completing class work and homework. Many students (and adults) find spelling difficult, but like any skill, more practice helps.

Apps and online games are an excellent way of practicing spelling and punctuation at home. There are many free, interactive versions of hangman, scrabble and beat the clock as well as vocabulary development and punctuation accuracy games available for tablets and phones. Students can also practice their skills here on a lunchtime or after school in the LRC or in a classroom.

Literacy: Speaking and Listening

All teachers promote the use of Standard English in the classroom. Students are encouraged to present their ideas verbally during group work and feedback. In some subjects they will learn now to create effective presentations; this can be a daunting prospect so staff ensure they are fully prepared and have had opportunities to practice their talk in advance. Good quality verbal skills are important in creating the right impression, this guide is a useful summary of the importance of good speaking and listening skills, particularly for GCSE students. BBC Bitesize S&L.

Numeracy: Calculations

Mental Calculations are used as early as Key Stage 3 for basic arithmetic such as times tables which are continued through to Key Stage 4 and later adult life. These arithmetical skills are essential not only within Maths lessons but also across a broad range of other subjects. At St Joseph’s we continually test students’ skills through whole school initiatives:

‘Times Tables Rockstars’ – This is a competition ran in Year 7, in which students compete to complete each stage of their times tables. The competition comprises of three category winners which consist of ‘Highest Achiever’, ‘Most Accurate’ and ‘Biggest Improver’. The following website contains a variety of games to practice times tables, these could be played at home, lunch or after school in the LRC: Time Tables Games.

Click here for the Times Tables Rockstars Parents’ Handbook

Additionally, there is also a Times Tables Parents’ Handbook which contains a lot of information about raising students’ awareness of their times tables.

‘Numeracy Ninjas’ – This is a competition ran in Year 8. The focus of the competition is to improve mental arithmetic as a whole. Diagnostic tests in Year 7 demonstrate that although general Maths skills improve steadily as time increases, mental maths skills can only change over time if practiced regularly. Twice a week, students are tested on skills of mental arithmetic and are given a chance to improve on their scores to earn a higher grade belt. Winners are announced each half term including a category for ‘Highest Achiever’, ‘Most Accurate’ and ‘Biggest Improver’.

Numeracy: Data Handling

All teachers promote a good standard of data handling within their classrooms. Students regularly produce graphs in Science, Geography and History to present and then comment on findings or they are used to make a comparative analysis of information. In some subjects students will record information on field trips to analyse once they return to school. Having a good understanding of data handling is very important for students wishing to embark on careers relating to information analysis. How to handle data.

Numeracy: Shape, Space and Measure

Shape, space and measure is often an area of Mathematics that students can find difficult given the visualising nature of the material. SSM is used in a range of subjects including D&T where units of measure are prominent and also Art and Technology in which the use of geometry is pivotal.

Promoting Literacy and Numeracy Across the Curriculum

Finally, as literacy and numeracy skills are practiced and promoted across the curriculum, there are regular competitions, challenges and celebrations.   Last year students participated in the Numeracy Challenge competition which promoted the use of numeracy skills around the world, we were able to award students INTU vouchers for their attempts at collecting the golden tickets awarded for completing these challenges. We also ran an annual competition for ‘World Maths Day’ in which prizes were rewarded for students using 4 digits and any operation to produce the number 24.

Three students were also awarded Kindles (kindly donated by one of our partners, Sunderland University) for their entries to a writing competition and we all had an excellent time dressing up and giving away free books during our ‘World Book Day‘ celebrations. We are always seeking new partnerships to promote literacy and numeracy across the curriculum, if you are a parent or business who can support us please get in touch.

world book day mar 2015 (13)

Students and staff celebrating ‘World Book Day 2015’ – which characters can you spot?