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Why is reading so important?

At Maricourt, all teachers are teachers of literacy; we are committed to developing literacy skills in all of our pupils in the belief that this will support their learning and raise standards across the curriculum. Literacy not only helps pupils succeed in school, but it also enables them to communicate effectively and precisely when competing for jobs and entering the world of work.

- Reading for pleasure is a more influential factor in a child's cognitive development than their parents' level of education.

- Young people who read for up to 30 minutes a day demonstrate a difference in just over a year's schooling above those who never read for enjoyment.

- Reading books often at the age of 10 leads to higher results in Maths and vocabulary at the of 16

- 16 year olds who read for pleasure outside of school are more likely to secure professional careers; workers with high levels of literacy earn 94% more that those with low levels of literacy.

- People who read books regularly are happier and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.

Taken from readingagency.org.uk

As teachers and parents, we all have a responsibility to ensure children acquire good literacy skills to enable them to succeed in every aspect of life.

What are we doing to help improve your child's literacy at Maricourt?

A recent national survey by Renaissance Learning, an educational software and hardware company, found that many 15-16 year olds taking their GCSE's did not have the right literacy skills to access the exam papers, despite the papers being correctly pitched at 15-16-year old readers.

This is one of the many reasons why we place great emphasis on reading. Below is a summary of some of the various strategies we use at Maricourt to enhance our pupil's literacy skills;

Language Specificity

By understanding the language they use and being specific in their language choices, pupils are able to become better readers and writers. Through widening their vocabulary they are increasing their brain power and equipping themselves with the vital tools needed for effective communication. Teaching specific terms in a specific way is one of the ways a teacher can empower students by providing them with the academic background and knowledge they need to understand the content they will encounter in school. Pupils are introduced to new vocabulary for 10 minutes every Monday as part of the school's PSHEE/Citizenship programme. They learn two new words each week and will be tested on their understanding of the 10-12 words they have learned at the end of the end of each half term. Pupils are encouraged to use the words as frequently as possible in their every day speech and writing across all subjects. In this way, the words will be embedded into their vocabulary and they will feel confident and assured in using them.

Two school libraries

Our pupils have access to two school libraries, providing them with access to a wide range of books. In each library, we have an experienced librarian, who can help guide our pupils on book selection, and offer them a quiet place to enjoy their favourite book. Pupils are also encouraged to borrow books from the library and enjoy reading them at home. Pupils are also able to access suggested reading lists, which can be found here, and book reviews, which can be found here. Further information about our libraries and the range of resources available in them can be found on the designated 'Library' section of our website.

Accelerated Reader programme

Renaisance Accelerated Reader Programme is a software package we have invested in to monitor independent reading. It helps to encourage students to read for enjoyment. Pupils read a book, then testing occurs three times a year which generates a reading age linked to a range of colour coded books. Pupils choose a book within their colour range which will develop and strengthen their literacy skills. English teachers monitor pupils' reading each week by signing their reading log (which is also signed each week by parents). This tool enables us to see how well a student has understood what they have read. According to independent research carried out by the Education Endowment Foundation, Accelerated Reader produces "particularly positive effects"; "the internet based programme increased the reading age of pupils by three additional months in just 22 weeks".

Key Stage 3 literacy intervention

We value the development of all of our pupils; throughout Year 7 and 8, we support our pupils with low levels of literacy through an intensive literacy intervention programme. This includes additional lessons of literacy with a literacy specialist, giving all pupils the best possible chance to progress and succeed.

Dedicated reading time

At the beginning of each English lesson, all Key Stage 3 pupils are given dedicated reading time to enable them to enjoy some quiet time reading their favourite book. Once a week, Key Stage 3 pupils are also taken to visit one of our school libraries where they can select a new book to read, and share their thoughts on books they have read with their peers.

Whole school literacy marking policy

At Maricourt, all staff work hard to promote high standards of literacy. We have a whole school cross curricular marking for literacy policy, which is adhered to by all staff to emphasise the importance of spelling, punctuation, and grammar across all subjects. Staff are also equipped with strategies to help pupils spell and use subject specific vocabulary such as mnemonics.

Classroom displays

Each classroom at Maricourt is furnished with subject specific vocabulary wall displays to encourage pupils to broaden their use of language in each lesson. We also use calligram posters, word banks, subject specific dictionaries, word games and interactive glossaries to encourage greater use of subject specific vocabulary and synonyms. In addition to this, we promote our pupils' extended writing by displaying their work on classroom walls.

Book swap days

To coincide with World Book Day 2017, we are holding a 'book swap' day where pupils and staff alike are asked to bring along a book they have enjoyed but can bear to part with! We encourage book reviews from the original book owner to inform its future owner what is so special about this book.

Activity days

During our dedicated 'Activity week' and additional Enterprise Challenge Days, there is a focus on literacy activities to promote the importance of literacy, for example writing the headlines for the Grand National with a team from Aintree Racecourse. This helps pupils recognise the significance of literacy across all curriculum areas.

Speaking and listening activities

Across all subjects, pupils take part in delivering classroom presentations, classroom debates, and group discussions. This gives them the opportunity to develop skills in expressing themselves verbally, and listening to others points of view.

School e-newsletter

2017 will see the launch of Maricourt's e-newsletter. This will be written by our students and will give them the opportunity to develop their literacy skills through interviewing their peers and staff, and writing articles for the newsletter.

How can you help to improve your child's literacy?


Children who read regularly and for enjoyment are more likely to make progress in school. As parents and teachers, it is our responsibility to instil this love of reading in our children. At home, pupils should be encouraged to read, and a providing them with a quiet place to do so will be really beneficial. Research from Renaissance Learning suggests that children should try to read for at least half an hour a day.

- Encourage some reading before bedtime
- Ask your children to read to you
- Take an interest in the book your child is reading – you could even have a read of it yourself!
- Talk to your child about what books you have enjoyed reading
- Boys in particular sometimes need encouragement to read fiction
- Books, e-readers and book vouchers make great Christmas and birthday presents
- Let your child see you enjoy reading your favourite book
- Regularly visit your local library or book shop

Some useful websites with some more ideas on how to encourage a love of reading are listed below;

- www.lovereading4kids.co.uk
- www.literacytrust.org.uk
- www.renlearn.co.uk


With daily use of texts, emails, and social media, it is easy to forget good writing skills, which are essential throughout many aspects of life. Children should be able to express themselves clearly in writing. This is of particular relevance, given the reforms to GCSE examinations, which require pupils to write in an extended way across most subject areas. Children should be encouraged to write at home as well as in school. Below are some practical tips to promote your child's writing skills at home;

- Read through your child's school books and discuss with them the writing they have done
- Take an interest in what they are writing about in different subjects in school
- Encourage your child to read interesting newspaper and magazine articles
- Spontaneous spelling tests!
- Encourage them to write articles for the community such as in the local church, sports team or dancing group newsletter


At Maricourt, we ensure all of our pupils are given opportunities to express themselves orally in a variety of different settings. For example, during PSHEE lessons pupils take part in several debates. In PE lessons, pupils are tasked with leading activities and warm ups, instructing their peers, and giving verbal feedback on how to improve. In Year 11, all pupils participate in a mock interview with an employee from local businesses, helping to equip them with the skills to communicate effectively in a real interview. There are plenty of strategies that parents can try at home to encourage their child's oracy too;

- Take time to talk to your child! Although this may seem obvious, it is becoming more and more difficult to find quality time as a family to talk about your day
- Discuss topical issues that they are interested in
- Encourage them to put down their mobile phone/tablet, and talk to you, rather than spend too much time interacting through social media
- Encourage them to participate in social activities in the community that involves them talking, for example drama groups, singing clubs, and voluntary work

Maricourt Catholic High School
Hall Lane
L31 3DZ
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