Reading gives insights into the world, and into ourselves. Reading isn’t just decoding texts. Effective readers use a range of reading strategies. The gap between the word-rich and word-poor begins to widen long before the pupils reach us in secondary schools. Teachers must actively teach reading, demonstrating and instructing pupils, across all curriculum areas. Each subject area and each teacher has a responsibility for the literacy of students in three key areas: speaking and listening; writing; and reading. Unless we deliberately teach these skills, the gap will continue to get wider, especially when there is research suggesting that 30% of households in England have 3 or fewer books.
At Ash Hill Academy, we place reading at the front and centre of our curriculum. We want our pupils to be able to access the full curriculum offer by developing a reading programme that focuses on accuracy, automaticity (speed, fluency), prosody (expression, emphasis and tone) and a love of reading.
The English secondary reading strategy is delivered via English lessons, where all pupils are given access to a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Pupils read and reread texts to find layers of meaning and increase understanding. Each text also focuses on a key theme to encourage our pupils’ personal development.
All pupils in Years 7 and 8 are assessed using GL Assessment’s reading test https://www.gl-assessment.co.uk/products/new-group-reading-test-ngrt .The assessment helps highlight which pupils require support with their reading. This support is provided in different ways depending on the need of each pupil. This could include reading support in the library, phonics lessons and sound training intervention. Some pupils also receive an extra timetabled English lesson, focusing on key literacy skills and comprehension.
Oracy is a key focus across the Academy and we aim to develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills, confidence, and ability to express ideas. Oracy tasks are embedded across tutor time activities and curriculum areas. Through collaborative seating and structures the academy supports students daily in developing the necessary skills to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language.
We promote literacy across the school. Each week, pupils across KS3 listen and read along to an extract from a novel. Pupils are then given the opportunity to discuss what they have read. This reading is designed to expose students to texts with diverse characters and themes.
Word of the Week introduces students to a range of new vocabulary that can be used across all subjects. Vocabulary is tied to the local context so that it is meaningful and builds cultural capital.
“The only way you are going to have success, is to have a lot of failures first.” – Sergey Brin – Founder of Google
Numeracy is more than just the ability to do basic arithmetic. It is developing a confidence for problem solving using numbers and measures. Many children and adults alike fear being faced with numerical problems. We believe if we can instil a desire to achieve and a love of learning then there is no limit to what our pupils can achieve. After all, Thomas Edison once said “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
Students at Ash Hill Academy have access to over 900 video lessons and homeworks on Hegarty Maths. All video lessons are taught by Colin Hegarty (Teacher of the year award 2014, Global teacher top 50 2015) and range from basic numeracy up to grade 9 GCSE content. Over the last two Academic years, we have been delighted to see such a positive correlation between pupils GCSE progress and their time spent using Hegarty Maths. Ash Hill Academy also offers regular prizes to students who put the hard work into Hegarty Maths and the stars of the week are displayed in classrooms and corridors.
At Ash Hill Academy, we look to narrow the gap instantly in KS3 between students who did not achieve the expected standard in Mathematics at KS2 and those who did. Any student who did not achieve the expected standard have a Passport Maths lesson on their timetable each week. By testing students at the start of the academic year, the maths department can monitor any gaps in students’ basic skills. During Passport Maths lessons, students will tackle only the skills they have struggled with, meaning each student has a learning experience that is bespoke to their needs.
We promote our love for Numeracy by encouraging students to compete nationally each year in UKMT (United Kingdom Mathematic Trust) competitions and have a specialist KS3 Academy Mathematics team that compete at events against other Delta Academies.