Literacy at Cheltenham Bournside School

Literacy is… the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential

Kofi Annan

At Cheltenham Bournside School we believe that one of the most important skills we can develop in our students is literacy. It is vital that our students have the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets them communicate effectively and make sense of the world. At every stage it unlocks new horizons – it enables them to succeed at school, makes them better people, capable of richer lives, and able to enter fully into society. In today’s world, being literate requires even more. Our students need to be readers and writers to gain proficiency with technology, develop relationships with others, confront and solve problems collaboratively. They need to be able to manage and analyse the copious amounts of information they can access through the internet and respond to everything responsibly as good citizens.

Every teacher at Cheltenham Bournside School is a teacher of literacy. They recognise that in order for their students to think, explore, organise and communicate effectively they need high-level literacy skills. They recognise that effective use of language is crucial to effective learning, and that by developing literacy skills in their own subject area and across the school, standards will rise. Our staff are committed to working together across the curriculum to raise all students’ attainment in literacy, promote independence and foster confident communication skills to ensure our students become the best they can be.

In a world where knowledge truly is power and literacy is the skill that unlocks the gates of opportunity and success, we all have a responsibility as parents and librarians, educators and citizens, to instill in our children a love of reading so that we can give them the chance to fulfil their dreams

Barack Obama (Children’s Book Week 2017)

At Cheltenham Bournside School we want all of our students to become a lifelong reader, which can only be achieved by developing a deep love of reading. Research repeatedly shows that reading for pleasure decreases with age and attitudes towards reading becomes less positive in the teenage years. Our challenge therefore is to promote reading as a form of escapism and self-indulgence, so students can truly enjoy reading for pleasure. Research also shows that the best predictor of future education achievement and life success is reading ability – or, more significantly, being an engaged reader.

To inspire a love of literature, every student in Years 7, 8 and 9 are given a weekly guided reading session in tutor time. Each tutor group reads the same chosen text together with their tutor to enable class discussion, decoding of text, and to develop their independent reading skills. The school participates in the Bookbuzz reading programme from BookTrust, which aims to inspire a love of reading in Year 7 and 8 students. They have the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 17 titles suitable for 11 to 13 year olds, carefully selected by a panel of experts to ensure quality and suitability. All of our students have a library card which enables them to borrow books from our library, and they are encouraged to write reviews for others to read.

At the start of each academic year, students in Years 7, 8 and 9 take a literacy test – the National Group Reading Test – that enables us to keep track of our students’ reading age, and identify those that may be falling behind and those who are finding the vocabulary and subject-specific language hard to access. Where we identify students falling behind, we have a range of intervention strategies to support them, ranging from individual or small-group work to being assigned a reading mentor from an older peer. Intervention is overseen by our Literacy Leader and SENCo.

From September 2018 the school will be working hard to raise the profile of literacy and the love of reading across the school. Numerous events will run across the year such as World Book Day, and we will also use Scholastic to run book fairs, as well as DEAR time – Drop Everything and Read. The school will also be taking part in several writing and speaking competitions which are open to all, but will also stretch our most able students.

To support your child at home we have produced reading lists for fiction and non-fiction books. There is such strong evidence that the more reading someone does, the more successful they will be in all aspects of life, that we believe the best thing you can do at home is to encourage your child to read. Our Literacy Leader can help any parent/carer with choosing texts that are appropriate and accessible to their child’s reading level. We have hundreds of books in our school library, every student has a library card and we ensure that we keep up to date with new publications.