Literacy for Life initiatives a success at Forge

Ormiston Forge Academy in Cradley Heath is one of the six schools participating in the Literacy for Life programme from the National Literacy Trust, which equips pupils with the academic language used in their lessons and encourages reading for enjoyment.

Literacy Lead Dawn Fellows described how the school has had success with the “Reading Aloud” initiative, which was introduced at a training session she attended as part of Literacy for Life.

Every day at a set time, teachers of all subjects read the same text aloud to their year 8 classes. Students then continue the story with a different teacher in a lesson the following day. By listening as the text is read aloud to them, students are able to focus on developing a love of story.

Dawn said: “We started Reading Aloud earlier this year and it has been incredibly well received. Students have commented on how the scheme has introduced them to new books that they wouldn’t have considered choosing before and how useful it is to discuss the title they are all reading together.

We recently ran a survey of students to find out if they would prefer to continue to with the Reading Aloud initiative or read independently, with the results showing that 72% of year 8 students preferred Reading Aloud. We have made a few adjustments to the scheme this term, and will be continuing the Reading Aloud initiative along with some individual reading to ensure that pupils continue to develop their core reading skills.

Dawn also shared how her colleagues have reacted to the project: “Some teachers were slightly reluctant about starting the Reading Aloud initiative and were worried that students may not remain focused during the sessions, but instead have found that students have really embraced the reading time across lessons. Some teachers have also commented on how it really helps to give them a personal sense of literacy ownership at the academy.

To support the Reading Aloud project, the National Literacy Trust organised for the authors of two of the books that classes were reading as part of the initiative to visit Ormiston Forge Academy. During the visits, authors Dave Shelton and Sally Gardner shared more about their books and answered questions from students.

Dawn said: “The students were so enthusiastic about meeting the authors of the books they were reading, asking lots of questions about the characters and storylines. They even did their own independent research before the visits to find out more about the authors and several students were willing to miss break time to stay and ask more questions!

After success with reading initiatives at Ormiston Forge Academy, Dawn now aims to boost writing progress and enjoyment across the school:

She said: “Our next step is to showcase examples of best writing and good writing practice across different subjects, by displaying them on walls throughout the school to inspire pupils. With the help of the National Literacy Trust, we are planning to take this to the next level.

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Ormiston Forge Academy, Wrights Lane, Cradley Heath, West Midlands, B64 6QU. Tel: 01384 566 598.