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St Thomas the Apostle School and 6th Form College

How do we support Literacy?

At St Thomas, we recognise that so many aspects of poor literacy can be addressed through reading widely, regularly and for pleasure. As such, at the heart of St Thomas the Apostle’s Literacy Policy is the form time reading: each morning, tutors from Year 7 to 10 read a class reading book with their form. Ranging from classics (A Christmas Carol, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies) to the modern (Thirteen Chairs, A Monster Calls and Curious Incident) students are reading aloud for pleasure three times a week for 25 minutes each time, led in this reading by a trained member of staff. Over the years, they can expect to read between 20 and 30 books from this scheme alone. Each half term, teachers attend meetings to continue their professional development in this area, developing their ability to help students read with precision, fluency, audibility and expression. In this way, this scheme sees all teachers at St Thomas tackle and contribute to whole school literacy.


For those students who arrive at St Thomas with a lower reading age than their chronological age, a range of robust interventions are put in place. These range from morning or afternoon interventions tackling specific areas of literacy need – for example, phonics or handwriting – to timetabled extra English lessons with a subject specialist.


Year 7 and Year 8 students have dedicated lessons to vocabulary acquisition; the year 7s do this via a combination of reading, as well as working through an online programme called Bedrock Vocabulary. Year 8, meanwhile, read a novel and focus on the acquisition of vocabulary through learning of prefixes, suffixes and root words.


There are a number of enrichment activities students can take part in. Each year, our Literacy Week sees students battle it out at a Spelling Bee and a Poetry Recital Competition; students attend Debate Mate and our most advanced readers attend a Classics Book Club. This sees them read thirteen classic novels over the year, meeting every three weeks to discuss and debate. Students enter external writing competitions, honing their creative writing skills. The library plays host to a number of regular competitions, as well as having an active student voice which helps restock shelves.


At St Thomas, we are dedicated to improving the literacy levels of each student ensuring their success in all areas of the curriculum and beyond.