Whole School Literacy

St Thomas More Catholic School is committed to developing literacy skills in all of our pupils, in the belief that it will support their learning and raise standards across the curriculum because:

  • pupils need vocabulary, expression and organisational control to cope with the cognitive demands of subjects;
  • reading helps us to learn from sources beyond our immediate experience;
  • writing helps us to sustain and order thought;
  • language helps us to reflect, revise and evaluate the things we do, and on the things others have said, written or done;
  • responding to higher order questions encourages the development of thinking skills and enquiry;
  • improving literacy and learning can have an impact on pupils’ self-esteem, motivation and behaviour;
  • high standards of literacy allow pupils to learn independently
  • the ability to communicate is empowering.

The following strategies are in place to allow staff to contribute to these policies as subject teachers and as pastoral tutors:

Reading Writing Speaking and Listening
  • Accelerated Reader Programme delivered through English curriculum time (Key Stage 3)
  • Whole school marking for literacy policy to assess pupils’ written literacy skills
  • All staff to ensure that pupils respond to questions in full sentences.
  • Reading age data and relevant support materials shared with all staff
  • Whole school writing mats
  • All staff to model the use of Standard English.
  • Whole school approach to reading during pastoral time
  • Whole School writing competitions
  • Whole school debate club
  • Staff recommended reads shared with pupils on a fortnightly basis
  • Language of learning CPD group
  • Termly reading challenges distributed to all pupils
  • Sixth Form led reading group for staff and pupils

Fortnightly literacy gem

 Literacy Challenge Events

 Literacy Support Box

Our fortnightly literacy gem is a key strategy to promote the teaching of literacy by all.  The ‘gem’ is delivered to all pupils during Pastoral time and then consolidated during curriculum time by all teaching staff. Follow this link to see our current literacy gem:

pdf-icon Literacy Gem 6 – Spelling Rules

Helping Your Child at Home with Literacy


All pupils are required to have their personal reading book on them at all times. They may be asked to read this during Pastoral or curriculum time.

As a parent encouraging your child to read for pleasure is one of the most important things you can do to support their academic progress. You can do this by simply setting aside 30 minutes each evening to quiet reading time – even if your son or daughter is in Key Stage 4 or 5 this will help their academic progress. An even better strategy is to encourage ‘active reading’. This is where you and your child actively engage in reading for pleasure together. Follow this link to access some active reading strategies you could complete with your child at home:

pdf-icon Active Reading Tasks


By the time pupils start St Thomas More Catholic School they should be able to write with confidence, structuring their sentences and organising their work into paragraphs. All pupils are encouraged by all staff to ensure they think about the purpose of their writing and how they can structure it to engage their specific audience. If your child is completing an extended piece of writing at home you can help by asking them …

  1. What type of text are you writing?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. How do the answers to the questions above influence the style and structure of your writing?

One method, linked to writing, which supports all pupils to make progress, is the use of connectives. These are words that join sentences and paragraphs together. Effective use of connectives is an important skill that a child at any level needs to master. Follow this link to access some support sheets you could use with your child when they are completing an extended piece of writing:

pdf-icon Connectives

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening play an increasingly important role in making sense of new information and in clarifying thinking in subjects across the curriculum. More importantly though, the ability to communicate effectively is a life skill that all pupils require to be successful.

As a parent it is important to model the importance of talk as a tool to learn from each other. The most effective question you can ask your child each evening is ‘what have you learnt today?’  This will encourage your child to reflect on their learning and use vocabulary and explanation to verbalise this to you.

We all know that teenagers often don’t listen! Follow this link to access 5 top tips on how to encourage active listening strategies.

pdf-icon Developing Effective Listening Skills