Reading, writing, vocabulary acquisition and oracy are the key priorities for literacy at Harris Academy Merton. For a piece of text to be fully understood, 95% of the words must be known to the reader. However, only around 2000 words make up 80% of our spoken language. We therefore explicitly teach key words to students across the curriculum and have a structured approach to talk in the classroom to develop students’ language through SPEAK.
All students are tested for their reading age (NGRT reading tests) when they join the Academy and subsequently twice a year. The current reading age of students are included in reports to parents. Students who are identified as needing extra support in Year 7 will take part in a Literacy intervention programme. This includes completing the lexia programme, taking part in paired reading with sixth formers or small group reading with the Librarian.
All students in Key Stage Three (Year 7-9) complete weekly English homework using the Bedrock online platform: https://bedrocklearning.org/. This explicitly teaches students new vocabulary. As a parent, you also have access to the work your child is doing on Bedrock. Using the access code provided by the school, you can access your child’s account to understand their progress. You can see the words they are learning each week and can weave them into family conversations to ensure even more language practise.
All students at Harris Academy Merton take part in weekly Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) during tutor time. Year 7 tutor groups read a set text as a tutor group. Texts read include Boy 87, Hacker, Sawbones, Liccle Bit, Windrush Child, October October and Ghost Boys. Students in Year 8-11 in vertical tutor groups read their own book from home or the school library.
The School library is open from 7.45am-3.45pm each day, and has over 11,000 books. Students can use the library before school, at break and lunch times and after school. All students in Year 7 and 8 have an English lesson in the Library weekly, taking part in the Accelerated Reader Programme. This matches students’ reading age to books which will accelerate their reading ability.
Free access to books online
- Oxford Owl - expert advice, educational resources and free eBooks to support children's learning at home, from Oxford University Press.
- Audible.com - Free trial of audible books for all ages. There are a range of categories to choose from and the texts on offer cover a range of ages. Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular and are predicted to overtake the sales of ebooks in 2020 (National Literacy Trust). The research review found that audiobooks can improve children’s reading skills and enjoyment of reading, support children’s emotional and mental wellbeing, improve children’s reading comprehension and widen access to books.
- Project Gutenberg - The Project Gutenberg website offers over 60, 000 free eBooks. Your daughter can choose to download this as a Kindle book or read online. This website is completely free to use and does not require any registration.
- Literacy Trust: The Book of Hopes. Completely free for all children and families, the extraordinary collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures has contributions from more than 110 children’s writers and illustrators, including Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Greg James and Chris Smith, Michael Morpurgo, Liz Pichon, Axel Scheffler, Francesca Simon and Jacqueline Wilson.
- www.poetrystation.org.uk. This website focuses on providing recordings of poetry to help students engage in the auditory nature of poems and language.
- The National Literacy Trust's Family Zone is a comprehensive web portal for parents and guardians. There are activities for all age groups which will engage children at home, whilst also benefiting their reading, writing and language development. Currently the Family Zone only provides resources for students up to the age of 12, however secondary school students as well.
- www.booktrust.org.uk - The Book Trust website offers a range of resources linked to children’s literature, as well as a resource for recommending books that your daughter might be interested in reading moving forward.
- www.goodreads.com - The Good Reads website is free to join. On this website, your daughter can write reviews of books she has read, search through book lists and recommendations and take part in quizzes on novels.