Month: March 2016

Is tackling literacy like wrestling an octopus?

There are two main problems for those of us grappling with literacy in secondary schools: the multitude of problems, and the many different possible solutions. To use resources efficiently, especially in a tighter funding climate, means understanding the exact needs of the students, the staffing resources required (both knowledge and time) and how to get the greatest impact on student progress. Choosing appropriate interventions is only part of the story; there are issues of workspace, appropriate teaching materials, staff training, and connecting with the many levels of administration within a busy and complex organisation. And underlying all this is good quality data. How do we get it, how do we understand it, and how do we use it? You can find out more about developing a whole-school literacy strategy by visiting our website. You may also be interested in: A Towering Issue How to Save Time and Money Through Screening A Time To Think, A Time To Act The Loneliness of the Literacy Co-ordinator Struggling Readers in the Secondary English Classroom

Leveraging Literacy at Secondary School

School leaders are uniquely placed to impact literacy Sometimes it’s difficult, in the maelstrom of school life, to step back and look objectively at literacy. While at first literacy may seem just a single strand of the curriculum, a deeper examination will often show how students’ behaviour and overall progress are tied to – or indeed, limited by – their reading and writing skills. Senior leaders are uniquely placed to create the conditions for literacy to flourish. If asked to choose the single strategy that senior leaders can implement to make the most difference for the lowest cost, I would say that the key is introducing whole cohort screening with follow-up individual testing for lower-scoring students. It is clear that you have to have good data before you can deploy your resources most effectively. But while a standardised test is a good starting point, it will need more detailed individual assessments to ensure that artificially low scores are detected (e.g because of low test motivation, careless answers, or even a desire for extra attention). I’m …