We recognise that having high levels of literacy opens the door to success for our students in school and later in life. Literacy underpins our curriculum and is integral to our core purpose at Dormers Wells High School: to support students in becoming responsible, independent members of society and to empower students to take control of their futures. Young people who leave school with low proficiency in literacy are held back at every stage of their life, so it is the responsibility of our teachers and support staff to enhance our young people’s life chances through a rigorous literacy programme across all subjects.
There are three strands to our delivery of literacy at DWHS:
1. Disciplinary literacy: ‘Say it like a Scholar’
We aim to empower students to read, write and speak the language of learning in every subject; we use the phrase ‘Say it like a Scholar’, which encourages students to use formal, academic language at all times. ‘Disciplinary literacy’ emphasises ways of knowing and communicating knowledge in a particular subject. Across all departments, teachers provide vocabulary instruction to help students access and use academic language. Our teachers prioritise teaching Tier 2 (general academic) vocabulary and Tier 3 (subject specific) vocabulary, which students are unlikely to encounter in everyday speech.
2. A lifelong love of reading
Reading for pleasure has become the most important indicator of the future success of young people. To read is to have access to the store of human knowledge; in reading, we encounter not just knowledge, but the mind that recorded it, with its experiences, insights and perceptions. This means, as well as improving academic attainment across subjects, reading enables us to better understand the world and increases our empathy, improving our character and relationship with society. In addition to these benefits, there is a range of evidence to confirm that high levels of reading, including reading for pleasure, result in children being more likely to have a high level of mental wellbeing than peers with below expected reading skills. For these reasons, our library is the hub of our school, and supporting students’ lifelong love of reading is the responsibility of all our staff.
3. Effective intervention
High quality teaching across the curriculum reduces the need for extra literacy support; however, we always aware that some students will require more help. We aim to provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling students. We proactively support students through a range of structured programmes from year 7 and closely monitor progress as they move up through to year 11 and into the sixth form. Ensuring that every student leaves school able to read and write properly is a moral responsibility and therefore high quality and targeted interventions are necessary to ensure that students make the progress needed to be successful in later life.
‘Say it like a Scholar’
We define having academic literacy as being able to use a range of high-level vocabulary in context and to construct clear, effective statements to form mature arguments. We want our students to be ready for their futures, equipped with the language needed for formal adult life and further education. For this reason, Tier 2 vocabulary (words used in more formal contexts) and Tier 3 vocabulary (subject specific words) are embedded into the curriculum and taught across all subjects. As part of our ‘Say it like a Scholar’ initiative, students are also expected to use formal language and speak in full sentences at all times.
My Key Skills
As part of our pastoral programme, all students have a weekly ‘My Key Skills’ lesson during form time, taught by their form tutor, which forms part of a literacy curriculum that runs from Years 7-13. Students work through booklets with a range of activities focused on reading and writing; these increase in challenge each year and aim to increase students’ cultural awareness of different fiction and non-fiction texts as well as developing skills in spelling, punctuation, grammar and academic writing.
DWHS Literacy Marking Codes
Teachers use the literacy marking codes to address errors of literacy in students’ writing. Students are expected to correct these errors using green pen during DIRT (Directed, Improvement & Reflection Time) activities.
The library provides extensive reading lists and is open from 8am until 5pm (including break and lunch) to advise and guide students on reading.
Click here to go to the library page.