Developing Literacy & Communication Skills at Upper Wharfedale School
Students join us from a wide range of backgrounds and with differing levels of literacy and communication skills. Many students are fluent, competent readers, writers and speakers and face few challenges in accessing the secondary curriculum and progressing very well. Other students join UWS needing further support with their literacy and communication skills. This could be for a range of different reasons: Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND), long term absence from school, having recently arrived in the UK and learning English as an additional language (EAL). There may also be issues around their reading or writing confidence, self esteem or reluctance to engage.
On joining UWS all students complete baseline literacy skills assessments (reading and spelling). These provide specialist staff with information about their skill level; any areas of need or further development. They also help identify students whose reading and writing skills are highly developed, so that they can be stretched and challenged appropriately. (Further details about these baseline assessments can be found in the documents linked below).
As a school we understand the fundamental role that literacy skills play in a young person’s future success. We place a great deal of importance on our responsibility to develop these and provide students with a learning environment which is rich in literacy and which extends well beyond the school day.
Our primary approach is through high quality Wave 1 teaching in the classroom. As a Dyslexia-friendly School we understand that the strategies which will aid students with specific learning difficulties will also be beneficial to the majority. Regular updates to teaching and learning support staff from the Literacy Co-ordinator, Inclusion Manager and SENDCO help ensure that students’ needs are well communicated and shared.
Where more significant needs are identified specialist staff will meet to co-ordinate a plan of support and/or intervention for students. This may include a range of the programmes or interventions detailed in this area of the website. You can read more there about what these interventions involve and how their impact is evaluated. Further details can also be found on the SEND area of our website, linked here.
We are proud of the way that our staff work with students, families and outside agencies to develop and enhance students’ literacy skills during their time at UWS. As a result, our students out-perform others nationally in spelling, punctuation and grammar elements to GCSE assessment in a range of subjects. We also have outstanding progress and attainment at Key Stage 4. However, we know that this is a continuous process of improvement and development. Staff are adapting to meeting the needs of an increasing number of learners who speak very little English on arrival. They are developing their competencies in these areas of adaptive teaching through networking, professional learning and cross-department collaboration. We have the embraced the latest technology to assist both staff and students to do this in recent months.
You can read about our Literacy and Communication strategy here; this forms a core part of our school development plan.