Dormston Literacy policy is linked to the priorities set out by the EEF: These are the priorities for this academic year.


Dormston Literacy policy is linked to the priorities set out by the EEF: These are the priorities for this academic year.


At Dormston we firmly believe that literacy is an essential skill to enable students to read and write as experts in every subject across the curriculum. These skills are vital to make sense of the world around us. As such, the better we are at these skills, the more successful we can expect to be in life. At Dormston we recognise that improving literacy can have an impact on students’ self-esteem, motivation, behaviour and attainment.

We believe that reading, and particularly reading for pleasure, has a direct impact on cognitive and social communicative development. It has been shown to improve health and wellbeing, as well as improving compassion and empathy for others. Our aim is to develop each student’s potential to the point where they are reading at, or above, their chronological age. Baseline data will inform us of individual intervention need.

At Dormston, we:

  • Celebrate reading for enjoyment.
  • Explicitly teach vocabulary appropriate to each subject area.
  • Use effective strategies to support comprehension and vocabulary acquisition.
  • Promote classroom talk to enable quality written work.
  • Provide intervention where needed.

Twice a week in KS3, students will have a reading lesson. Staff will support students in making book choices and monitor their progress through texts.

Y7, 8, & 9

Across the curriculum, students will have the opportunity to read non-fiction articles relating to each subject area during Drop Everything And Read. This will broaden students’ understanding of the world around them and introduce them to key vocabulary needed to become fluent readers. They will also read and discuss topical issues and non-fiction texts in the Reading Lessons.

Reading is supported in tutor time. Throughout the year, tutors will share novels, opening chapters, articles and non-fiction with their tutor groups to promote reading as widely as possible.

Quick Reference: The 5 BASICS of vocabulary, reading, talk and writing from our staff handbook:


  1. Pre-teach with simple definitions and ask students to chorally repeat back.
  2. Put into the context of a sentence.
  3. Break down vocabulary into parts (roots, prefix, suffix) to make links with other vocabulary.
  4. Use in classroom talk or writing during that lesson.
  5. Retrieve within the week and again later in the term. Use dual coding. The more the better!


  1. Discuss text types and structure – process? information? opinion? Remind students how it is organised.
  2. As the expert reader in the room, read the text to the students. Ask them to just listen.
  3. Ask students to follow along during the second reading. Model strategies to them such as summarising, clarifying, predicting and questioning.
  4. Dual code key ideas in the text.
  5. Respond to the text.


  1. Plan why you want students to talk – how will it aid learning? Will it deepen reading comprehension, improve writing or secure learning and recall? Talk needs to be relevant to your subject.
  2. Embed choral responses in your classroom. This will build confidence & give students their voice back.
  3. Establish routines linking talk to reading and writing (ready to write).
  4. Agree on rules for classroom talk. These will need reinforcing until talk becomes part of your lesson.
  5. Model talk. Make the vocabulary explicit, use sentence stems and model in your teacher talk.


  1. Determine what you are writing for. Make the purpose very clear to the students.
  2. Model using exemplars from reading, expert writing and student writing.
  3. Use sentence stems and scaffolds such as structure strips to support writers.
  4. Use metacognitive strategies to enable students to see where writing is successful and unsuccessful.
  5. Ensure students can see incremental improvements and they understand why.

All teachers at Dormston School are teachers of literacy and create a range of opportunities in lessons to develop skills in reading, writing, and oracy:


  • provide explicit opportunities for students to develop their oracy practice
    • through class discussions
    • paired work
    • presentations
    • use as a way of leading into developing their writing
  • develop a professional and formal approach to speaking – e.g. formal and academic language rather than slang/colloquialisms
  • develop use of a sophisticated and academic vocabulary


  • provide explicit opportunities for students to develop their reading practice
    • model good reading practice;
  • give students the opportunity to read aloud in class
  • promote extra-curricular reading through subject specific recommended reads and knowledge organisers


  • provide explicit opportunities for students to develop their writing practice
  • develop students’ language through the use of ambitious vocabulary and subject specific terminology
  • mark pupils’ work for spelling, punctuation and grammar and ensure pupils take responsibility for their mistakes whilst we explicitly teach misconceptions
  • support weaker writers where appropriate with scaffolding, sentence starters, paragraph and writing frames, key words and teacher modelling
  • challenge most able writers through extension questions and extended writing opportunities and by removing scaffolds and frames
  • model examples of good writing, reading and oracy through teacher modelling and use of W.A.G.O.L.L.s
  • provide intervention where needed.

Across the curriculum, students will have the opportunity to read non-fiction articles relating to each subject area. This will broaden students’ understanding of the world around them and introduce them to key vocabulary needed to become fluent readers.

Finally, reading is supported in tutor time. Throughout the year, tutors encourage the reading of novels, opening chapters, articles and non-fiction with their tutor groups to promote reading as widely as possible. During Drop Everything and Read students read for 20 minutes in every subject area to highlight the importance of reading in every curriculum area. Students read a variety of fiction and no-fiction and are encouraged to question and discuss what they have read.

Class Reading Lesson – In addition to their English lessons, year 7, 8, and 9 students take part in regular timetabled reading lessons. The aim of these lessons is to read together as a class and encourage a lifelong love of reading through enjoying a variety of different novels by popular authors.

“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible”

Barack Obama, 44th President of United States of America.

All students are reading age tested. Some students will be identified as needing additional support to access the curriculum. These students will have targeted intervention (either one-to-one or small group), Literacy Plus lessons delivered by English staff and Fresh Start phonics intervention delivered by Learning Support staff. Students are closely monitored to check their progress.
At Dormston we are committed to empowering students by widening their vocabulary. We are ambitious and aspirational with regard to vocabulary acquisition. We understand the impact that vocabulary has on quality of work, progress, and the ability to express ideas and concepts. Each subject has a published vocabulary list that allows students to speak and write as experts. Vocabulary is tested through low-stakes quizzing in lessons and vocabulary tasks are set frequently for homework and are evident on the Knowledge Organisers.

Vocabulary is explored in all subject areas. Students experience reading key words in context, use new vocabulary in their written work, and develop confidence with new vocabulary in speaking tasks.

We like to develop our students’ Tier 2 and 3 Vocabulary – Tier 2 are words that appear frequently in writing, but not everyday speech, which pupils may be unfamiliar with. Tier 3 are subject specific words that pupils will encounter as part of their lessons on a particular topic or subject.

Teachers teach new and unfamiliar vocabulary using the ‘Frayer Model’ where we encourage students to find the meaning of a word, use the word in a sentence, find synonyms/alternative words, and look at the history and origin of the word.

Students have a series of ‘Tier 2’ words in their planner – we encourage them to study these words and find the meaning of them.
We understand the link between confident, fluent reading and confident, articulate speaking. At Dormston, opportunities for talk in the classroom are planned and deliberate. Students learn language across the curriculum to support their oral contribution. Opportunities exist in subjects to prepare speech, such as presentations, debates, discussions and the oral rehearsal of written work.

Extra-curricular opportunities include Debate Club, Poetry by Heart and Youth Speaks.
There are many literacy enrichment activities. As well as World Book Day, writing competitions and creative writing club, the PLC organises a number of special events throughout the year. Students have visited bookshops, attended author workshops and talks, and the librarian runs several competitions.

We welcome requests and enquiries from any parent who would like more information about literacy.

“Acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life.”

Kofi Annan, Seventh Secretary – General of the United Nations

We encourage students to read independently for at least 30 minutes per day at home. As parents or carers you are your child’s most influential teacher and role model with an important part to play in helping your child to learn to read. There is nothing more powerful than your child seeing you read – they more than likely learned their interest in books as a child at bedtime with you. There are a number of ways in which you can help your child:
Before reading you can:

  • ask the reader to create a list of speculative phrases to use when discussing a text. You may wish to start them off with ‘This makes us think that…’ and ‘This suggests that…’
  • ask the reader to talk about the purpose, audience and form of the text they are about to read.

During reading you can:
ask the reader to speculate about the writer’s point of view in a text. For example:

  • is the writer for or against this topic?
  • does the writer want us to sympathise with this character or not?
  • ask the reader to comment on some of the words and sentences used by the writer. Discuss what effect is being created by the writer and how it is being created. For example:
  • what did the writer want us to think when he chose that word?
  • that’s a very short sentence. Why has he chosen to write it like that?

After reading you can:

  • talk with the reader about what they liked or disliked about the way the text was written. Try to get him or her to point out particular words or sentences and comment on them.
  • talk with the reader about why the writer might have chosen to organise a text in a particular way.

How to encourage your child to read:

Read yourself! Show a good example by talking about the reading you do at work and at home. Let your child know that reading is an important part of your life.

Keep books safe. Make your child their own special place to keep their books in their bedroom.

Make time to read. Set aside a time for reading for the family – after school or before bedtime. Encourage independent reading but don’t be afraid to still tell a bedtime story.

Don’t just read books. Encourage your child to read newspapers, TV guides, comics and magazines. Ask your child to find out information from the Yellow Pages, the Internet, cookery books, etc.

Let your child read with younger children. Encourage them to read to other members of the family.

Keep in touch with school. Make sure your child swaps their home reading books regularly at school and try to make a regular time slot of about 10 minutes to hear them read.

If English is not your family’s first language: You can buy dual language books. You can talk about books and stories in any language.

How to help with reading: Be positive! Praise your child for trying hard at their reading. Let them know it’s all right to make mistakes.

Give them time. Let them make a guess before you tell them the word. Let them read to the end of the line before correcting their mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you have to tell them the word sometimes.

Spot words inside words. Help them to spot words they know within larger more complicated words.

Let them read their favourites. Don’t worry if they only read one kind of book. If they are really stuck, ask the librarian or teacher to suggest something else they might like.

Make the story come to life. Encourage your child to read with expression. This will help them read more fluently.

Ask lots of questions about the story. What would you have done if you were…….? Does this book remind you of anything that has happened to you? Can you guess what is going to happen next?

Use a dictionary. Use a simple dictionary or online dictionary and use it to check the meanings of new words.

Activities to try at home: Make a scrap book with your child about their favourite star, group or team. Let them cut pictures out of magazines and papers and write their own captions. Buy a book of crosswords and wordsearches and try to solve them together. Make up your own puzzles to try out on family and friends.
Help your child find the meaning of Tier 2 words at the back of their planner.
Encourage your child to research our Word of the Week

At regular intervals throughout the year all year 7 pupils sit Literacy Assessment Online reading tests which assess their vocabulary and comprehension skills and calculates their reading age at that point. Teachers can instantly access reports which detail pupils reading age and progress they have made.

We use software from ‘Literacy Assessment Online’ where pupils are given a sentence with a missing word, then have to decide which word fits best. Once the test is complete the software calculates a reading age.

This information will be shared with each pupil to be recorded in their planner.

For more information you can visit the Literacy Assessment website here.

Dormston Literacy Events
  • PLC Pupil Reading Groups
  • Parent Reading Groups
  • PLC Reading Challenge
  • Drop Everything and Read sessions in lessons
  • 500 Words Writing Competition
  • Celebrating World Book Day
  • Host of Dudley Teen Book Awards ceremony
  • Visiting author and poets events
  • Assemblies and writing workshops
  • Trips to Sedgley Library and Birmingham Library
  • Dudley Libraries Summer Reading Challenge
Personal Learning CentreClick here for more information
Mr D FoxLiteracy Co-Ordinator
Ms S Ellsmore PLC Manager