Hillside High School

Excellence in the Heart of the Community

Wade Deacon Trust


    The Importance of Literacy

    We place an extremely high value on the importance of strong literacy skills for all our students.  Reading, writing and communication skills are crucial in ensuring success within all curriculum areas but also in our students’ lives beyond the school.  Should students choose further education or decide to join the work place, a secure usage of literacy skills is required for both.  For this reason we have formulated a whole school approach where the whole staff is fully committed to developing literacy as part of every lesson.

    • Students need to be competent readers, writers, speakers and listeners in order to reach their academic potential.
    • Improved literacy standards will lead to higher attainment in subjects
    • Literacy teaching is the responsibility of every teacher in every curriculum subject.

    The English department will teach literacy intrinsically but every teacher will develop and improve the quality of literacy by providing good models and opportunities for students to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening in planned and focused ways.

    Every teacher is a teacher of literacy.  Every classroom displays literacy support, such as key words, spelling rules and examples of punctuation. Each week we promote a Literacy Focus through the school newsletter. This links with the weekly focus in the student diary. In addition to this staff members deliver a Literacy Challenge each week which aims to improve our students’ basic SPaG skills. Our aim is to create an explicit focus on literacy in order to develop each student’s ability to communicate clearly and accurately. This is further enhanced by the Student Planner where a students can reference literacy support if they need to.

    Baseline Testing

    Students deemed to be ‘non Secondary ready’ for English will be targeted for extra literacy support.  All Staff will be given detailed information on the literacy levels of this focus group.  All students on entry complete the Access Group Reading Test in order for us to establish the reading ages of our students.  This helps the school to identify the needs of all students of all abilities so that we can support each student as appropriate.  Students will be tested again later in the academic year so that we can ensure that all students are making the expected progress.


    For the presentation of written work students must:

    • Write using only blue or black ink.
    • Write the date in full e.g. Monday 5th December 2016
    • Title every piece of work using appropriate initial capital letters.
    • Underline the title and date using a ruler.
    • Use a pencil and ruler to draw diagrams, graphs, maps etc.
    • Proof-read to check for mistakes.

    Please support these expectations at home, when students are completing independent learning.

    Teachers will ensure that the whole school literacy focus is being implemented and consolidated appropriately throughout their lessons and in their marking.  Students’ work needs to be written accurately following the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.


    Students are given access to a wide range of texts to reflect the demands of each curriculum subject and those needed when they become adults in the wider community.  Students will be encouraged to read for pleasure, with form tutors setting aside regular reading time during Academic Review.

    Each student is expected to have a reading book at all times. It should be appropriately challenging.

    We will ensure that reading skills and strategies are reinforced through teacher modelling and providing regular practice during lessons.  Students are encouraged to read aloud, fluently and with expression. Where necessary students will be supported by the teacher providing a good model as well as partnered and paired reading strategies to improve competency levels. 

    Literacy Intervention

    Where students require extra support with basic literacy skills, we have created a formalised programme in order to develop specific Literacy skills:

    Reading enrichment activities and additional support is delivered where necessary. A specialist intervention teacher works closely on a one to one or small group basis and focuses on phonics, decoding and basic comprehension skills.

    Speaking and Listening

    Teachers recognise the importance of oracy to improve learning.  Students are encouraged and expected to:

    • ​Speak clearly, audibly and with confidence.
    • Adapt language to a widening variety of demands which will include using the grammar and vocabulary of Standard English.
    • Use full sentences when speaking.

    Spelling and handwriting

    All KS3 students are tested for spelling accuracy. Packs of spellings and handwriting practice sheets are given as independent learning as it is vital that handwriting is clear and legible.  Every teacher will mark and correct spelling mistakes in line with the school marking policy, giving strategies to help students improve.

    Literacy Leaders

    Literacy Leaders are students in each English class who have been trained to lead the literacy focus in lessons and to support other students’ learning in the lesson. 

    Parental Support

    It is crucial that parents/guardians and the school work closely together to support and develop the literacy skills of our students. Parents, carers and siblings use a range of strategies to build some literacy into everyday life. This could be actively listening to your child read on a regular basis; especially if you know that this is an area with which they struggle, or asking them to read at home to a younger brother or sister.

    Students have the term’s Literacy Focus in their Student Diary each week. Parents/guardians can refer to this when checking independent learning; please ask your child to re-do a piece of work if you are not happy with the literacy content or presentation. Independent learning should be as well presented as classwork. If your child struggles to find the right equipment at home to complete a quality piece of work then they can always attend independent learning club in the library after school, or ask their English teacher for help.