“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development… For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right… Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.” – Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations 1997 to 2006.

At The Brooksbank School, we want to inspire, motivate and challenge students to be the best version of themselves both within an academic and ‘real world’ setting. Explicitly exploring and promoting our key pillars of literacy: oracy, vocabulary, reading and writing will equip students with the self-awareness required to present the best version of themselves to others both here at Brooksbank and in all aspects of life.

  • Oracy – it is critically important that our students are able to express themselves orally in both formal and informal settings. Improved oracy is proven to impact positively on attainment across all subjects. Moreover, confident oracy is the foundation which will allow our students to be credible competitors in the world of work and higher education.
  • Vocabulary – there is a clear link between a student’s level of vocabulary and their ability to access both the curriculum at school and life beyond their education. Therefore, equipping our students with a rich and varied vocabulary with which to express themselves in their speech and writing is a key priority.
  • Reading – we must provide our students with a range of approaches to allow them to actively engage with what they are reading in order to comprehend complex academic texts across the different subject areas.
  • Writing – we need to motivate and support students to become as fluent as possible when combining the three processes involved in this challenging and complex skill: generating and translating ideas into words, sentences and structured texts; physically writing or typing these ideas; reviewing and redrafting texts.

Every teacher at The Brooksbank School is a teacher of literacy, and we are working hard to develop a robust approach to disciplinary literacy (an approach to improving literacy across the curriculum). In addition, September 2021 saw the launch of our Literacy Working Party and the introduction of a fortnightly literacy lesson for students across all key stages. This lesson serves to develop students’ skills in the four pillars of literacy identified above.

The content of the literacy lessons is tailored to meet the needs of our students at the key points of their education:

KS3 – Literacy for Learning

KS4 – Skills for Success

KS5 – Academic Skills

We are also striving to once again raise the profile of reading for pleasure – the benefits of which are all-encompassing. In addition to our fantastically well-resourced Learning Resource Centre, which is open to all students at The Brooksbank School, we have a packed programme of activities to create a buzz around reading, including:

  • A reading book is part of the equipment list for students
  • Shelf Life – half termly readers’ groups for every year group, held in the LRC
  • Brooksbank into Books – a fortnightly session in the LRC where a member of staff reads an excerpt from a book of their choice
  • Registration Reading Booklets – a weekly form session promoting shared reading opportunities in years 7-10
  • Book boxes – an interesting range of books (fiction and non-fiction) in every form room across years 7 and 8
  • The Brooksbank Reading Journey – a huge display along C Block corridor that presents students with a choice of books from a range of genres, with the texts becoming more challenging as they travel further along the journey
  • Key Stage 3 Reading Passport – half termly prize draws for book reviews
  • Get Caught Reading – tickets awarded to students who are ‘caught’ reading for pleasure
  • Silent Reading Room – C4 is available every Monday lunchtime as a reading sanctuary for students
  • Paired reading – targeted reading intervention led by staff and sixth form students during registration
  • Readathon – an annual sponsored read for students in years 7 and 8
  • Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year Award – an annual event whereby students read the four shortlisted titles, vote for their favourite and visit Halifax Town Hall to meet the authors and witness the winner being announced.

Put simply, literacy is empowering. In the short term, a greater emphasis on literacy will have an impact on the progress and outcomes students achieve at The Brooksbank School; in the long term, it will ensure students leaving our school have the functional skills necessary to make their way in the modern world.

“Young people who leave school without good literacy skills are held back at every stage of life. Their outcomes are poorer on almost every measure, from health and wellbeing, to employment and finance.” (2020, Education Endowment Foundation.)