Literacy and Oracy
Literacy is at the heart of the curriculum here at Bonus Pastor. We are committed to ensuring that all our students are not only strong and competent readers but also effective, persuasive and respectful young people. This is why we aim to foster a love of reading and communication. We have a number of different platforms to achieve this.
The love of reading should not simply be consigned to the classroom but we believe that fostering the idea of reading for enjoyment will lead our students to explore for themselves the richness of the English Language, through Literature which extends far beyond the boundaries of the UK. Young adults who are well read have a clear advantage when it comes to establishing a foothold within the workplace.
Our underlying aim is to raise all levels of reading for all students across the whole school. Each student uses an online assessment tool for Reading, Listening and Phonics when they enter the school and any students falling below a standardised reading level are supported through a variety of strategies. We have a tiered system of support which guides all students. This includes bespoke help for those students who struggle with phonetic sounds, key groups targeting grammar with our Bedrock online learning platform, general literacy and understanding of text. These include a Catch Up Programme – an initiative in which staff provide ‘one to one’ weekly reading sessions with individual students. Capture points measure progress through the year and students can come off or re-join the programme where needed.
Progress is also measured through our Bedrock literacy learning programme for all students and a log book is used to highlight complex words or vocabulary and to keep a record of progress for 1 to 1 reading. Students whose first language is not English (EAL) are also given reading support.
Students are encouraged to read regularly and use the library. There is also the Accessit virtual library where students can review books and reserve; further to this students are encouraged to link up with their online local library to reinforce key concepts and ideas. There are links too, for example, to borough wide quiz competitions with the Lewisham book award and World Book Day events, as well as author visits and trips.
For our More Able cohort of students we identify them early on in their school journey so we can provide bespoke pathways into higher learning. We actively encourage them to engage in Public Speaking debates (Jack Petchey Award), Creative Writing Competitions (Daniel Phelan trust) and to keep their own writing journal of stories and poetry.
As a school, we are justifiably proud of our library which we believe to be one of the best- stocked school libraries in the borough. It is seen as the ‘heart of the school’ and all students are time-tabled for regular sessions in the Library – not only for reading but also for exploring and for seeking out books for themselves. Our professional Library Staff are always on hand to provide recommendations and students are allowed to have two books at any time to take home and read. We have the library available for students on both sites, as well as a designated reading support room. Sora, an app from students’ Google Drive, allows them also to take out books virtually, on a range of topics, some of which are audio books and this is regularly updated.
We have a ‘Love of Reading’ at Bonus Pastor and students read regularly during Tutor and House weeks. We find this promotes reading and aids a calm, positive start to the school day.
All our staff are committed to creating a learning climate where Literacy is at the forefront. In the classroom, each subject department focuses on subject specific terms and vocabulary, aided by the Bedrock Mapper programme which helps to underpin the language our students learn through knowledge organisers. Added to this, we operate the wider Bedrock learning programme for all students who follow this twice per week (once in Tutor time and again for English) having maximum impact based on the most recent research. We have data measurement tools to regularly assess progress and parents are actively involved with their own accounts. Progress is publicly celebrated regularly in assemblies.
In terms of whole school subject specific vocabulary, curriculum plans reflect regular reading exercises in all areas, whether that be keyword analysis for exam style questions, tier 3 vocabulary using Mapper or independent reading strategies. All subjects have built reading exercises into their curriculum.
Students are encouraged to listen to the opinions of others and make their own points through reasoned Public Debate. This enables students to discover for themselves their own gifts in Rhetorical and Persuasive Language. Each subject area has opportunities built into their schemes of work for discussion, small groups are encouraged to engage with oracy, enabling fluent communication. To go further, the college has worked with Voice 21, an education charity that provides help and guidance for the improvement of public speaking in schools and we have training programmes associated with this. The Lead Practitioner programme in College, an initiative aimed to promote cutting edge aspects of teaching and learning, has an ongoing focus on oracy in the classroom and this is continuing into 2023. As well as this, students are given the opportunity to take part in national quizzes, world book day events and the Jack Petchey speak out challenge. For those students at key stage 3 who struggle with oracy and communication, as well as literacy issues, there are small groups who meet regularly with a teacher using the Hackney learning programme which aims to improve those skills, following a particular pathway which allows them to gain confidence in this area. In terms of the whole school, CPL topics regularly reinforce the need for competent reasoned communication and debate.
For more information, please email our Assistant Headteacher Ms V Clarke and Deputy Headteacher Mr J Young: