Supporting Literacy

Literacy across the curriculum

This section is about empowering children by empowering parents.  It is about the significant role parents / carers play in developing a child’s literacy skills.  Here, we highlight the importance of reading and the invaluable investment of your time.


Research has shown us that if you read to your child from an early age and listen to her read in her early teenage years, you will have helped her acquire an extensive vocabulary, language to express herself as well as sparking an interest in the wider world.  You will also have helped to develop and discipline her attention span and concentration.  In all, you will have given essential tools to your child enabling her to confidently express herself verbally and in writing.  The most able pupils are pupils who have been read to, listened to whilst reading and encouraged to read.  As a result, by the time a child is at secondary school, being presented with a challenging text, will not seem so daunting or unachievable. 

Your child does not need to be faced with long and arduous books to read at home, reading short stories would be a great start.  Reading from cover to cover enables a child to see how a plot develops; she will be able to piece together aspects of a character as it unfolds, she will see new words in context and get a sense of what is being conveyed, new ideas might be presented to her which she might never have thought of and she will start to develop the ability to see the world and issues from different perspectives.

Questions to ask when reading
The most important part you can play in the whole experience is when a child is asked to reflect on what they have read.  Open-ended questions which do not have a ‘right’ answer give your child the confidence to respond in creative ways without being afraid of being ‘wrong’. You will make your child think critically. Even if you have time to only ask one question, for example:

  • “What do you think might happen next?”
  • Why do you think he / she acted that way?”
  • Does this remind you of anything from your life?”
  • If you were that character, how would you have persuaded him / her to turn himself/herself in?” (rather than “What was the main character’s name in the book?”)

Your child might respond with even more thought-provoking questions so continue to encourage her higher levels of thinking. By giving the opportunity for your child to reflect, you will have transformed her from a passive reader to an active reader.

Book Lists
There are so many great books to choose from, sometimes it is hard to know where to start to make your family a ‘reading family’. If you and your child need help with choosing a book, have a look at the link below.

Top 100 books to read

For more contemporary books, there are many recommended books from various Children’s Book Awards (e.g. The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Award, Costa Children’s Award and Blue Peter Book Award).

Reading different genres of books opens up a wider world. Reading the classics gives your child a glimpse of the past.  Your child will look into the context of a book and discover what influenced the writer.  This is all good practice for future work in KS4 English.

Reading Mentors
Once a week, Yr. 9 Reading mentors volunteer during their break time to support groups of Yr. 7 pupils, listening to them read and helping them develop their comprehension skills through the spirit of Serviam.

Mobile Library
A number of pupils have been selected to take part in our ‘Mobile Library’ project, the aim of which is to encourage pupils to read for pleasure, to instil a love for reading and importantly, to provide an opportunity for families to read together on a regular basis.

Our plan is to provide a set of 3 books for your daughter to take home.  With parental support, your daughter will read with you and perhaps a sister / brother, taking in turns to read aloud for 15 minutes each day.  We believe that this worthwhile 15 minute activity can be realistically accommodated each evening. Books have been selected on the basis of being suitably challenging and with interesting themes to promote discussion.

At the end of the 15 minute session, parents are expected to ask their daughter one or two questions which will encourage her to reflect on what has been read together as a family.  Research has shown us that regular sustained reading helps a child to develop in all aspects of literacy and we are taking this further by promoting the idea of reading together as a family for a realistic amount of time each evening, which can only create a calm, enjoyable and beneficial activity for your child.

Once a family have finished reading the book, your daughter should hand in her books to the LSC and she will be issued with another set of 3 books.  All books issued to families will be recorded.  We expect books to be kept in order so that they will remain in good condition for the next family.


Through reading, your daughter will widen her vocabulary.  To accelerate this process and expose children to language that they will come across in all subjects in KS3 and KS4, we are encouraging pupils to regularly use Bedrock Learning.  Pupils will have completed an Alpha Test at the start to gauge their knowledge of vocabulary, and will then have been placed on a series of lessons (Block 7 / Block 8).  Each Block has a number of topics and each topic has 10 lessons.  Before a pupil starts a topic, she will do a pre-test.  At the end of the 10 lessons, she will do a post-test.  Pupils can view their results on their Bedrock Learning account and see their progress.  This system motivates pupils to improve their percentage points.

How to access Bedrock Learning
All KS3 pupils have a username and password and information on logging onto Bedrock Learning is on Fronter.

Bedrock Learning Instructions

Helpful worksheets to support Bedrock Learning
It is recommended that pupils do two lessons on Bedrock Learning a week.  Pupils can use headphones to listen to the way unfamiliar words are pronounced.  Worksheets are sometimes used to help pupils record spellings and to think about synonyms and antonyms.

Bedrock Vocabulary Notebook Sheets

Click on the link below to discover the ‘milestones’ for Bedrock Learning where certificates will be issued. This gives you an idea of what your daughter will be aiming for and when she will be rewarded for her efforts.

Milestones Block 7 and 8

How to access Zzish Dashboard – seeing your child’s progress
Parents can access their child’s progress on Zzish dashboard.

Creating a Zzish account parent guide


How can I help my child learn spelling?
Parents / guardians can ensure that their daughter can confidently spell the first 300 High frequency words at the start of secondary school.

High Frequency words

There are various techniques to learning spelling and one of effective way is the look, cover, write and check method.

Spelling method



Help with Writing

When reading a child’s writing, it is immediately apparent how much a child has read.  Your child’s writing will be as good as her reading.  At school, a child will learn about different writing styles; what the purpose of the writing is and be aware of their audience.

Below are links to a selection of writing styles providing some prompts for opening sentences, the type of information to include and the structure of the writing.

Writing Descriptive ADJECTIVES

Writing style for a BIOGRAPHY

Writing style for a DIARY ENTRY

Writing style for a DISCUSSION or ARGUMENT

Writing style for a RECOUNT

Writing style for ADVERTISEMENTS


Writing style for INSTRUCTIONS page 2

Writing style for INVITATIONS

Writing style for LETTER WRITING

Writing style for NARRATIVES page 2

Writing style for NARRATIVES

Writing style for NEWSPAPER REPORTS

Writing style for PERSUASIVE WRITING



How can I support my daughter with her speaking and listening skills?

Speaking in standard English – some common errors or ways students should avoid starting off their sentences in order to maintain a formal tone.

  • Basically
  • Right
  • Could of
  • Like
  • ‘Yeh but’
  • I want to ‘arks someone’ (Ask (aahsk) someone)
  • Could of (could have or Could’ve is correct)
  • Would of (would have or would’ve is correct)
  • Kinda
  • Ain’t it? (is it not?)


Weekly Newsletter

There are regular updates regarding Literacy which are published in the Weekly. These will give your ideas, top tips or key pieces of research to make sure that the things you are doing at home with your children are proven to really help. Here are a few recent articles. We will update them from time to time but you can always find them all on the Weekly on the website.

Weekly A 9 Nov

Weekly B 16 Nov

School Reports

Every teacher in St Ursula’s is a teacher of literacy. Your daughter’s teachers will report on the literacy of your daughter in their subject area. Developing, Secure and Exceptional are the three grades. Here are the descriptors to help you support your daughter in moving towards/maintaining exceptional standards of literacy across all her subjects:


  • Complex words are spelled with accuracy.  Uses a full range of consistently accurate punctuation.
  • Ambitious syntax and sophisticated range of vocabulary.
  • Wide range and varied use of connectives and detailed development of ideas.
  • Confident, mature and fluent use of Standard English. 
  • Excellent evidence of green pen and DIT.


  • Occasional errors in spelling complex words. Uses a range of punctuation.
  • Uses a range of different sentence types. Attempts ambitious vocabulary.
  • Uses key connectives and extends ideas.
  • Mostly secure use of Standard English in formal situations.
  • Good evidence of green pen and DIT.


  • Frequent errors in spelling common and technical words. Limited range of punctuation.
  • Mostly uses simple and compound sentences.
  • Needs prompting for connectives and a writing frame for longer writing pieces.
  • Insecure use of Standard English in writing and speech.
  • Little evidence of green pen and DIT.


Dyslexia Support
Practical Help at Home