Importance of Literacy 

At The Manor Academy, we take Literacy seriously and believe in equipping students with the essential Literacy skills which they will need to access each subject they study and for life outside of school. Therefore, it is our belief that Literacy should be an integral part of all teaching within the school. We advocate that every lesson should build upon, and nurture, the array of transferable skills Literacy provides.

Literacy covers the three key aspects of reading, writing, and speaking and listening. In all subjects across the curriculum, we strive to support students in their literacy development. These skills are not only essential for learning the full curriculum at The Manor Academy, but also vital for life outside of school.  Students need Literacy to engage with the written word used in everyday life. Literacy skills allow students to explore information, explore subjects in depth, and as a result, gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. All Manor Academy staff receive regular training, supported and underpinned by new research, and we have many whole-school initiatives to promote and improve Literacy.

‘Word of the Week’

Each week, students will be introduced to a high-level ‘new word’ they will be provided with the definition, then an opportunity to practise the words in a range of contexts. Exploring ‘new words’ through writing and speaking will allow students to access a wider vocabulary pool. Doug Lemov’s ‘Reading Reconsidered’ has informed our approach to delivering this session and our students are taught a specific model of vocabulary instruction. Students are provided with the definition of the word initially, then the word is provided in a variety of contexts with an opportunity to discuss and apply their understanding of the tier 2 word. All students are provided with a vocabulary book in which they record the ‘Word of the Week’.

Teacher fiction recommendations

Each staff member has a poster on their classroom door which recommends a book to students. Throughout the year, teachers will host discussions with students and offer extracts from their favourite books which feature a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. These are updated every term to ensure that students are exposed to a variety of books that they may never have discovered.

Fiction reading lists for each year group

All students across The Manor Academy will have access to a fiction reading list. This list was compiled by librarians across the trust. The recommendations vary within their level of challenge so that they are accessible to all of our students. Students can access the books from our school library, so parents do not need to purchase a copy. Students are encouraged to write book reviews for each novel that they read. If they complete all of the reviews, then they are issued a prize of a reading book of their choice.

Oracy Expectations

In lessons, we expect students to speak in full sentences to ensure that they are expressing themselves and articulating clearly while developing their understanding of new content and ideas. We aim to support students in what they want to say and allow them to have the ability to structure thoughts, so that they make sense verbally to others. By expressing themselves in detail verbally, this will then enable students to express themselves, in greater detail, during their written work as well. Students are supported to ‘Say It Again, Better.’ A strategy promoted strongly in Doug Lemov’s ‘Teach Like A Champion 3’. Teachers ask students to reframe answers using well-constructed sentences, technical vocabulary and more developed responses to up level their terminology, clarify ideas or improve on their vocabulary choices. Students have access to our oracy sentence starters on each of their English 100% sheets.

Embedding Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary across all subjects

Robust subject specific vocabulary supports reading comprehension and reinforces understanding of new and difficult language, especially in new option subject areas.  Using a tiered approach strategy as recommended in Alex Quigley’s ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ to vocabulary assists in the development of language and promotes a strong foundation for Literacy.   

Transition Literacy

Y6 students, from all primary feeder schools, received a free book to read over their summer break, together with an activity pack to support their literacy memory recall and comprehension. This book then feeds into the English opening activities in the first week of Y7.

Whole Year Group Reading For Pleasure

Teri Lesense’s article ‘Reading Aloud: A Worthwhile Investment’ expresses that reading to children should continue throughout their schooling, no matter the child’s age. As a secondary school, The Manor Academy has dedicated time within the curriculum for fast-paced reading out loud to students in a ‘Drop Everything and Listen’ Mastery Session. Students, teaching staff, and support staff all take part.

The Manor Academy has invested £20,000 in the selection of classic novels to allow each student a copy of their own for the reading session to follow under guided reading. In year groups, four days per week, for thirty minutes, students are seated within a large reading space and listen to staff members read using the Control the Game strategy.

Current novel choices are:

Y7 – Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

Y8 – Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children

Y9 – George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Y10 – Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five

Y11 – George Orwell’s 1984

Jo Westbrook’s ‘Just Reading: the impact of a faster pace of reading narratives’ shows an average of 8.5 months accelerated progress, and 16 months for weaker readers therefore we aim to ensure all students can partake in the social activity with their peers.


Reading age tests for all students in KS3 & KS4

We believe that by understanding the reading ability of students, we can support them in their studies, as well as challenge them. All students from Year 7 to Year 10 have their reading age tested via NGRT Reading Tests. This is to ensure that students are progressing in their reading and are accessing reading material which is an appropriate level. Teachers, teaching assistants and reading assistants can identify potential gaps in reading knowledge and understanding to offer support as necessary. Furthermore, it allows staff to ensure that work within the booklets is pitched at an appropriate level to scaffold up as required.

Check and Change

The aim across the curriculum is to allow for students to recognise their own basic errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Rectifying this, in preparation for assessed pieces of work, will allow them to gain marks in these crucial areas.

Literacy Booster Classes

To support the development of key literacy skills, we hold a variety of targeted intervention sessions in Year 7, 8 and 9, if required, to help students to catch up with their peers as swiftly and effectively as possible, in order to maximise their access to the secondary curriculum. These specific sessions: Read Write Inc Fresh Start, Bedrock Vocabulary, Switch-On Reading and The Manor Academy Scheme are provided by experienced ‘Literacy Teaching Assistants’ and ‘Reading Assistants’ who work 1-1 or in small groups to provide bespoke literacy interventions to maximise progress and support students.


Read Write Inc Fresh Start:

The synthetic phonics intervention programme aims to ensure students are fluent readers using ‘blending’, therefore enabling students to decode unfamiliar words and allow them to access the secondary curriculum. The sessions take place in pairs. Students are taught the 44 sounds systematically. The Fresh Start Modules are specifically age-appropriate stories and non-fiction which students have the phonic knowledge to read and therefore build their confidence.


Bedrock Vocabulary:

Bedrock Vocabulary is a research-based curriculum that teaches students the language which they need to succeed at school.   The digital vocabulary curriculum teaches through a series of multi-modal and interactive activities. The thorough assessment feeds data back to the teacher, enabling progress to be monitored regularly.


Switch-On Reading:

Switch-On is an intensive literacy 1-1 intervention which takes place over 10 weeks. Sessions are personalised to the student. The book packs are made up of stories for a wide range of age groups to maintain interest. The purpose is to close the reading achievement gap for students working below age expected levels.


The Manor Academy Scheme:

The Manor Academy has created intervention sessions for small groups of students which work on vocabulary, SPaG, comprehension, inference, and oracy. The scheme is based around a variety of short stories which are age appropriate which helps to build confidence around texts suited to their age.

The most valuable thing that parents can do is talk to their child about their Literacy in school. It is important to encourage children to read regularly for a minimum of 20 minutes every night.


Reading for pleasure is vital for improving Literacy. Each student at The Manor Academy will have a reading test each year which produces a reading age to ensure that staff are aware of their students’ reading ability. This allows for staff to provide support and challenge where necessary, across the curriculum.

Reading regularly is proven to develop imaginations, improve vocabulary, spelling, writing, and speaking skills. Reading frequently also helps to create empathy towards others, develop critical thinking skills, as well as increase confidence and improve mental health. Regular reading boosts the chances of gaining better grades in all subject areas across secondary school, which will result in improving career prospects in later life. Also, reading can be fun and enjoyable.

Having an established routine for reading can be helpful. For example: reading being completed and then children being rewarded with screen time. An alternative could be to ensure reading is done in bed before a child goes to sleep; this can help improve the quality of sleep and is much healthier than looking at a screen just before sleep. A bonding activity when reading could be to have your child read out loud to you. From this, you could ask them questions on what they have been reading to encourage them and check comprehension. A positive alternative to reading could be having a parent, carer or sibling reading to a child or listening via audiobook.

What to Read

In the vocabulary book, each student receives a ‘Reading Challenge’ to provide guidance on what to read and ensure enough range and challenge.

Some students struggle to find the right book for them which can often cause a barrier to reading. There are millions of books and the internet is an excellent place for discovering the world of books out there. We have also invested thousands of pounds into our library to expand the variety of books that we have to offer. Should your child need assistance in choosing a new book, they can speak to Miss Fletcher in our library.


Encourage your child to write for pleasure. There are lots of activities in the reading log which they can complete – diary entries, stories or letters are just some of the examples. Before writing, please encourage your child to plan their extended piece of writing.

Teachers at The Manor Academy encourage students to proof check their written work to check for basic Literacy errors like full stops, capital letters or spelling errors. If the work is read aloud, this helps to punctuate work, as it will help them to hear where the punctuation should go. You could even try reading this aloud to them with the correct pauses.


If handwriting is clear and legible then priority should be given to the speed of writing over neatness. Not getting enough down on the page within time limits can be a barrier to success for some of our students.


At The Manor Academy, we believe that it is imperative for every child to find their voice for success. This is vital within education and the wider world after school. Successful speakers understand how to be polite and respectful, actively listen to others and articulate themselves, as well adapt their speaking for different purposes and audiences. Being able to scrutinise and develop ideas are just as important in speech as they are in writing.

To develop speaking and presentation skills, you could ask your child to read some of their reading book or written work out loud to you. As they do so, you could encourage them to speak clearly and fluently, in Standard English, and to vary the intonation and pace of their speech. Using eye contact, gestures and open body language is also important.

Literacy at GCSE

All the above information for Literacy is important and applicable to GCSE study. However, it is important to note that many GCSE exams, not just English, award marks for SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar). To ensure success at GCSE, it is crucial that students can read the exam questions, understand them, and communicate clearly in their writing, often under stressful time pressures.

To maximise success at GCSE, encourage your child to keep reading fiction and non-fiction for pleasure.

Confident speaking skills are essential for learning and career development while studying GCSE. In English Language, students will have to deliver a spoken presentation to their class teacher, which is filmed and assessed for their GCSE Spoken Language grade. In Year 10, students will complete a one-week Work Experience placement which they have to apply to, as well as communicate with, adults outside of the academy. In Year 11, pupils will have to attend interviews when applying for Post-16 places or careers interviews. For success in all these areas, encourage your child to prepare and practise for their assessment and interviews.

Literacy in the Sixth Form

Strong Literacy skills are essential for students to meet the demands of Post-16 study. All the information for KS3 and GCSE are relevant for our Sixth Form students. As the majority of our Sixth Form students aim to attend university, secure an apprenticeship, or obtain a job, wider reading helps applicants to stand out in their personal statements, application forms and at the interview process.