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Literacy and Reading

Literacy and Reading at DACA

DACA’s Literacy Vision 

Unless children have learned to read, the rest of the curriculum is a secret garden to which they will never enjoy access.

Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. At DACA, we firmly believe that literacy is an empowering tool that enables our students to become well-rounded and socially engaged citizens. We are committed to enriching the lives of students by prioritising the development of literacy skills across our curriculum and wider school culture. For us, the development of literacy is a collective responsibility—all staff, students and parents should engage with reading and writing as it is a fundamental life skill that opens up a whole world of possibilities and greater independence. By prioritising literacy, we aim to promote the development of critical and creative thinking, interpersonal and team-working skills, as well as competence in speaking, reading, and writing. Effective literacy skills remove potential barriers to education and employment pathways and equip our students with the knowledge to overcome challenges and demands faced beyond their educational careers.

Our literacy strategy ensures that our students:

  • have the necessary tools to access the curriculum 
  • are able to transfer knowledge, ideas and skills between subject areas 
  • recognise the importance of and enjoy reading for pleasure
  • recognise the value of writing and communicating effectively
  • are able to continue their literacy development beyond their educational career

We achieve this by:

  • developing literacy rich curriculums that provide opportunities for reading, vocabulary development and oracy skills
  • providing opportunities for reading for pleasure
  • implementing a range of interventions to support underachieving and lower ability students 
  • completing bi-yearly NGRT (New Group Reading Test) assessments to ascertain accurate reading ages for all learners.
  • running a range of effective intervention programmes, such as: The Paired Reading programme, the Accelerated Reader Programme, IDL and Read, Write Inc
  • utilising Bedrock Learning to increase Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary acquisition whole school
  • explicit modelling of writing in all subjects
  • providing exciting opportunities to develop speaking and listening, such as ‘pen down week’

Reading at DACA 

How do we ensure a rich reading culture across DACA?

Effective programme of testing

Every April and September, all DACA students complete the NGRT (National Group Reading Test) assessment in order for us to ascertain their reading age. We then analyse this data to identify those students that would benefit from reading intervention to enable them to access all areas of the curriculum. Based on the scores of the NGRT test, some students may require further testing. We then retest students using the KS1 phonics test in order to identify the specific type of intervention required. This ensures that each child receives personalised intervention that is suitable for their reading level. 

Effective programme of intervention

Once all testing is complete, students identified as needing further intervention are enrolled onto one of four programmes; the Accelerated Reader intervention programme, the Paired Reading programme, the IDL programme, or the Read, Write, Inc. phonics programme. Students with reading ages of 1-2 years below their chronological age are enrolled onto the Paired Reading programme.


The Paired Reading programme is run by our Sixth Form Peer mentors during tutor time, once a week. Students are given the opportunity to read aloud to their peer mentor and are questioned on the text, in order to improve fluency and check for understanding. The Paired Reading programme, aside from being extremely beneficial for our students, is also an excellent enrichment activity for our Sixth Formers, who work with our students alongside their own academic commitments.


Students that require a little more support are enrolled onto the Accelerated Reader intervention programme. These sessions take place multiple times a week, depending on the level of intervention required. Students identified as needing intense intervention have sessions daily, whereas those needing less support will have sessions twice or three times a week. In these small groups, students will take it in turns to read aloud to their Reading Teacher, using their Accelerated Reader book of choice. Their teacher will support them with any unfamiliar words and will check for understanding at key points throughout the session. Students will then complete online quizzes to show their understanding of the book and enable them to progress to more difficult texts. Our Readers of Teaching track progress using an online tracker. We then use these trackers to determine whether sufficient progress is being made and, after retesting, aim to remove students from intervention once we have seen a significant improvement in their reading age.


Some students may require phonics intervention, in which case, they will be enrolled onto the IDL or Read, Write Inc programmes. In the IDL sessions, students will receive intense daily support with spelling and reading, in order to ensure that they make quick, effective progress with their reading. In the Read, Write, Inc sessions, students will focus on phonics to ensure that they are able to improve their reading fluency and skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.

Accelerated Reader (AR)

Students in KS3 will select reading books with their English class teacher suitable for their reading range. Students take ownership of their books and reading for AR and complete their comprehension tests at home or during their library lessons in English. Students are encouraged to read with parents and carers or independently for 20 minutes at home per day. Please see below for additional information on accelerated reader.

Guided Reading

During daily tutor time, all students in years 7-11 have a guided reading session, in which their tutor reads aloud to the group, whilst they follow with their DACA reading bookmark. We also have Reading Ambassadors for each tutor group. Our ambassadors model the guided reading technique on the visualiser, so that all students are clear on how to follow the text effectively. Some ambassadors are buddied up with other members of the tutor group in order to encourage them to get the most out of reading time.


Our students are currently reading the following texts:

Year 7 – You Can Do It – Marcus Rashford

Year 8 – Mud, Sweat and Tears – Bear Grylls

Year 9 – I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

Year 10 – The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

Year 11 – As Told by Teachers – A collection of short stories to prepare them for their English Language GCSE

Celebrating Reading

We are working hard to increase the profile of reading across the academy. This year, for National Poetry Day on Thursday 5th October, we ran a poetry competition for our students during tutor time. Students produced poems on the theme of ‘Refuge and we were amazed by the work produced. In December, we have Barry McDermid, from the Punctuation Show, coming into school to perform for years 9 and 10. Year 9 will watch the Advanced Grammar Show, while year 10 will watch the GCSE show. The aim is to make reading and literacy exciting, which we know Barry will do! We have also scheduled a visit from Author Matt Beighton to celebrate World Book Day in March 2024. We are really enjoying increasing the profile of reading across the school and are looking forward to seeing the impact this has on progress and attainment moving forward. 

Additional information for AR

Free online reading resources:



How can I encourage and support with reading at home? 

Here are 5 key strategies that you can use to encourage and develop your child’s reading ability: 

  • Help to choose 
  • Read to/with your child 
  • Predict it! 
  • Remember it! 
  • Question it! 

Help to Choose 

It’s important that we all help to inspire children to feel confident and comfortable reading. One simple way to do this is being as involved as possible when they are choosing their book. Please see this link to help with this.  

Read to/ with your child 

Parents or carers modelling reading is essential for them to understand the importance of reading to you as a family.

Predict it! 

Before starting a new book or article, look at the title and any available pictures and discuss what you both think it may be about.  

Remember it! 

If your child is in the middle of a book, before each daily read, persuade your child to tell you what’s happened so far.  

Question it! (What, Why, How, What) 

Asking your child questions about what they read is very important. Ask them: 

  • What is happening? 
  • Why is it happening? 
  • How do you know? 
  • What do you think will happen next?  

Writing and Oracy at DACA

How do we ensure the development of oracy at DACA?

Tier 3 vocabulary

Departments across the academy utilise time in lessons for direct vocabulary instruction. This ensures students understand relevant subject specific (tier 3) vocabulary and are able to use it when explaining learned content in their writing.

Tier 2 vocabulary

As part of the school’s ongoing commitment to literacy, we have invested in a new digital literacy improvement platform called Bedrock Learning. This is a fantastic programme which teaches students the language skills they need to succeed at school and beyond – with specific focusses on vocabulary (Tier 2 in particular), grammar, reading and writing. To begin with, it is expected that all students earn 20 points per week as an English homework, and they will be reminded of this on BromCom and in class. Since the start of this academic year, our learners have read a total of 24,000 words and have been taught a grand total of 92 key tier 2 words. These learners are enriching their vocabulary and broadening their horizons through reading. Moving forward, we aim to increase engagement with Bedrock by using rewards initiatives and placing a whole school focus on Bedrock leaderboards, in order to achieve 100% engagement from our learners. 

Etymology of words

Through our word of the week initiative and explicit teaching of Tier 3 Vocabulary in each subject, students are taught the etymology of new words. This improves retention of key vocabulary and ability to apply it within the correct context. Additionally, we run explicit vocabulary lessons each week in key stage 3 English with a focus on understanding prefixes and suffixes.

Extended writing opportunities

Providing consistent opportunities for extended writing is part of the development plan to ensure that this is embedded across the curriculum in each subject. In English, we have introduced ‘free writing’ to key stage 3 lessons where students have the opportunity to develop their creative flair independently.


Through initiatives such as ‘pen down week’ and ‘SHAPE’ to improve student oracy skills, the role of oracy in improving writing is developing across the academy. Promoting the ‘language rich’ classroom is a key focus across the academy – ensuring oracy is a priority for departments and the academy as a whole.


We offer a Young Writers club each week to all students. This provides opportunities for students to improve their creative writing skills, collaborate with other students to produce creative writing pieces and take part in internal and national competitions for writing.

We use ‘SHAPE’ in our classrooms to promote oracy skills.