Ratton School is committed to raising the standards of literacy and numeracy of all its students, so that they develop the ability to read, write, communicate and use numeracy skills effectively in all areas of the curriculum and the skills necessary to cope confidently with the demands of further education, employment and adult life.
Literacy is crucial to the success of individuals in both their career aspirations and their quality of life. Strong literacy skills are closely linked to the probability of having a good job, good earnings and access to training opportunities. The complexity of today’s world means that students leaving Ratton need to be proficient in reading, writing and communication in order to understand and participate fully in all aspects of life.
Drop Everything and Read
We want to encourage everyone in our school community to read for pleasure and have therefore set aside time in our school week for this to happen. We call this time ‘Drop Everything and Read (DEAR)’. This happens once a week in tutor time and in English lessons. Pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for choosing their own books from our well-resourced library and take the opportunity to read for pure enjoyment. All our students also have access to a fully resourced online library with over 1500 titles to enjoy. This online resource also is used within English lessons.
A wide range of clubs are available to promote Literacy in our school. We have a reading club called Book Buzz for year 7s and 8s only, in which they are encouraged to read fantastic new books and then write reviews on them in order to encourage others to read them. There are
also writing clubs for all years, one focusing on Journalism and one focusing on Creative Writing. In addition, we have Literacy Lunch every week, when teachers read their favourite book out loud and then talk about it in the library. This club has been particularly successful in engaging boys, particularly when PE teachers have got involved. We also take part in the Southern Book Awards and had a great time this year visiting Roedean School and seeing the winner receive the prize.
Every term, we promote a new competition which is focused on creative writing. We have had competitions for World Book Day, Spooky Stories and Fan-Fiction writing. We have also promoted national competitions for poetry and short stories. We award book vouchers to the lucky winners.
World Book Day
World Book Day is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our favourite authors, books and characters. Teachers and pupils get involved by dressing up as their favourite characters. Tutor groups take part in a World Book Day quiz and subject teachers take part by reading a section of a thrilling short story at the start of each lesson – pupils have to wait until lesson 5 to hear the ending, which makes it even more tense and exciting.
We have had many visits from writers, including slam poets, comic book writers and teen-fiction authors. Pupils have been involved in workshops as well as listening to performances from these writers. These visits have inspired our pupils and particularly engaged reluctant readers and writers.
Spelling and Vocabulary
We think it is important that students of all abilities continually work on improving their spelling and there are regular tests in lessons and competitions within year groups. Ratton has also successfully taken part in national spelling competitions. There is a termly Literacy Quiz run as a competition between communities with questions that focus on promoting knowledge of a wide range of ambitious vocabulary. The winning tutor group receive a certificate and chocolate biscuits.
When some of our students arrive at Ratton with low levels of literacy, we endeavour to give them the best chance of succeeding across the curriculum. A range of reading interventions are currently used to identify, target and enable these pupils to improve their reading skills.
All students, who have a reading age of below 13 or score below 104 on their KS2 SATS test, undergo an online reading age test three times across each academic year. The results of these tests provide staff with valuable data on students’ reading ages, relative to their real age and allows pupils who are falling behind to receive additional support in the form of the following interventions:
Description: Lexia is a web-based Independent Learning System. It is predominantly phonics-based and pupils work through a program independently and at their own pace. The computer keeps track of their progress and provides extra practice on aspects which pupils find difficult.
Lexia is delivered to targeted students by our specialist literacy support co-ordinator. She supports the students through small group intervention sessions to support the progress they make on Lexia. We have had great success this year with Lexia with most pupils making rapid progress in their reading ability.
Reading Buddies is a paired reading scheme. KS3 pupils with a low reading age work with a more confident reader from Y9 -11 to read together during tutor time. In each session the targeted pupil reads to their partner, seeking clarification on difficult words and responding to questioning on the meaning and focus of the text. This is also an opportunity to provide leadership responsibilities to a wide number of older pupils, who have responded positively and maturely and have been key to the success of many pupils improving their reading ages. Reading Buddies are rewarded with achievement points and cinema tickets but more importantly the satisfaction that they have helped another pupil to learn how to read.