Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School endorses the principles and practice ideals outlined within a curriculum of excellence, where literacy is defined as: ‘the set of skills which allows individuals to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts in which society values and finds useful.’

Overarching aims of Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School for the development of our learners’ literacy

  •  To provide high quality teaching and learning experiences for all learners
  • To provide a visually stimulating, text rich teaching and learning environment for all learners
  • To provide challenge, enjoyment, breadth, depth, relevance, coherence, personalisation and choice in all aspects of literacy
  • To make meaningful links between literacy skills and the application of these in all curricular areas / aspects of school life
  • To promote high standards in the acquisition and use of all literacy skills
  • To improve standards of comprehension and higher order literacy skills, moving beyond basic literacy
  • To provide opportunities for learners to collaborate throughout the curriculum to develop and extend their literacy skills
  • To engage parents in supporting their children’s literacy development
  • To work collaboratively with partner agencies and other establishments to help ensure best possible provision and sharing of best practice
  • To provide high quality CPD opportunities to ensure that the teaching of literacy is maintained at the highest possible level


Literacy at Bishop Challoner

Whole School

We know that literacy is one of the key features to success in future education and employment and, therefore, we place particular emphasis on teaching and assessing literacy skills. All teachers and learning support staff are teachers of fundamental literacy skills. Every curriculum area has a role to play in developing children’s literacy.

Staff model good literacy through their verbal interactions, their approaches to sharing reading, checking spelling, supporting ways of recalling commonly misspelt words and learning subject specific keywords. Scaffolding written tasks is a feature of support that enables students to be able to structure their writing. All staff are invited to share their feelings about reading by answering one of these 4 questions which is then displayed on the door to their classroom: My favourite book is…because…; The book which has had an impact on me is… because…; I am currently reading…; I enjoy reading because…

The English Department

Reading, writing, speaking and listening are all taught specifically throughout the English curriculum in Years 7 – 11. Writing in sentences and paragraphs, spelling, grammar and punctuation are all part of the Key Stage 4 examination syllabus’ and mark schemes.

When joining the school, students’ Key Stage 2 data supports our arrangements for teaching at the appropriate level of understanding, knowledge and skill development. Additionally, early in Year 7, students are assessed for their ability to comprehend text and specifically supported to improve rapidly if they do not meet the nationally expected levels. We use a reading scheme called Accelerated Reader and work in context with families to support individuals.

In Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8) students who require small group support to rapidly improve their understanding and skills receive it. This is provided by the English department and for a fixed time only.   As students are continually assessed for their progress ability groups may be altered.

Library sessions and STAR Reader

As part of their English curriculum students are introduced to our well-stocked library and during every session they are introduced to ‘new reads’ by the vastly experienced librarian who is integral to supporting the literacy of students. During these sessions advice and guidance is offered and reading habits are discussed with the class teacher and the librarian. With the support teaching assistants all students’ are ‘screened’ and reading ages and levels of vocabulary are obtained; this is monitored using the STAR Reader program and students are encouraged to take quizzes during their library sessions to monitor comprehension and to gauge if independent reading selections are too challenging or challenging enough. To support this, we have KS4 Reading Mentors who work with targeted students, listening to, correcting and discussing their reading and understanding.

The librarian is an active and prominent figure in developing students’ interest in reading. She organizes and has hosted the Hampshire Book award. She also uses PM registration sessions to meet with targeted groups of students, including, reluctant readers, an able readers’ group, a poetry group and a non-fiction boys’ group. To support the culture of reading, students are encouraged to read during their PM registration time – there are book boxes available that have been specifically put together to reflect a range of reading tastes and abilities.


The Head of English and Literacy lead conducted an audit of students’ and parents’ reading habits. This was called ‘Read with Me.’ It was intended to audit experience and to build on what we know about students’ habits in their primary schools and to encourage a culture of independent and regular reading. This was followed up with a Reading Challenge that students were invited to participate in. Their challenge was to aim to read more regularly over the summer holiday choosing from a blend of fiction, non-fiction and ‘texts around us’ – those who participated were encouraged to keep a journal and to record any new words as well as any synonyms for this new vocabulary.

Developing form this, there are a range of reading lists available in the library that are tailor made for Arts, Humanities, STEM subjects, as well as for reluctant readers and, of course, organized by genre.

How can I help my child?

Parents can encourage reading in a number of ways:

  • aim to read with younger students;
  • set aside dedicated reading time ( as little as 10-15mins per day and as often as 3 times a week has been shown to have a significant impact on a child’s confidence and use of words and their outcomes)
  • talk about books you have read
  • encourage debate and development of viewpoints and arguments on controversial topics ( it is not all reading but speaking and listening that helps children develop their literacy skills)
  • reintroduce spelling ‘tests’ of misspelt words
  • listen to the radio
  • read the Children’s news pages from the BBC
  • find an area of interest such as the sports pages of a newspaper or a review of a film, car or holiday destination and read about it

If you are still in search of more support

Please feel free to contact us or maybe visit one of these sites as suggested by our Literacy coordinator, Miss Partington