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Reading and Literacy

We are a Reading School

Melbourn Village College is a ‘Reading School’. It had been widely researched and proven that reading for pleasure allows young people to not only develop their imaginations and vocabulary but also allows them to have improved mental health due to them being able to relax and escape to other worlds. There are reading lists on the website to help you select books to give some ideas of where to start.

We have two “Reading Weeks” a year during which every subject in school is focused upon reading and where visiting speakers come in to discuss the importance of reading and what it did for their life! During these weeks we also have a pop-up bookshop and around the school that focus on reading for pleasure.

Staff are always willing to discuss their own reading habits and this is advertised for all students on the staff ‘I am Reading’ posters.

Why Literacy and Reading are Important

Al Melbourn Village College we are determined to ensure that all students have the best possible life chances and choices available to them on leaving the school. In order to do this they need the best possible grades. Reading age and the ability to successfully decode texts and understand meaning and nuance is one of the single biggest indicators of success. It also can have a positive impact on behaviour for learning with students being better able to access the work and learning and therefore less likely to misbehave due to a lack of engagement or understanding. One way Melbourn Village College teaches this is through our form time literacy programme which focuses on affixes to words and their etymology.

Put simply, reading age impacts on:

  • overall literacy ability including writing ability and reading related skills such as text comprehension
  • attainment across the curriculum in all subjects
  • higher level comprehension skills necessary for educational success
  • the likelihood of completing education

Boosting Literacy and Reading for some students

Melbourn Village College has partnered with St. Peter’s School in Huntingdon to deliver the Lexonik programme. Lexonik is a system which allows students who have reading ages that are below their age-appropriate average to catch up with their peers. It does this by:

  • Testing Reading ages upon entry to the school and at least once a year thereafter (students enrolled in the programme will have their reading ages tested more often)
  • Offering bespoke lessons and support for students depending on their individual need in terms of gaps
  • Adults within the school teaching the sessions for a short but intensive time period of 4 weeks to small groups or individuals

In short, ‘Lexonik's methodology insists upon active learning and focuses on developing the students' phonological skill so that they can use phonics effectively and read unfamiliar words, at the same time realising the immense importance of building vocabulary knowledge.’

A number of staff have been specifically trained by the Lexonik team to deliver the sessions to students. Students will be taken out of lessons in order to take advantage of these sessions. Due to the importance of reading ages in terms of students being able to access the whole curriculum there will be no particular subject from which students are taken; however the aim will be for this to be done as equitably as possible over the period of time that each student is taking part in the sessions.

If your child has been selected to join in some of the Lexonik reading sessions, you will be contacted in advance.  During the programme please talk to your child about what they are learning – our first round of students through the programme made amazing gains in their literacy and in their confidence around reading.

In addition, our SEND department and our Alternative Provision department are making use of IDL Literacy which enables students to make improvements to their own literacy through a structured programme accessed online.

How we support literacy in lessons and around school

Staff use a common language when discussing vocabulary in their teaching.

We use the phrase ‘tier 1’ when describing words that are in everyday use e.g. table, road, child; ‘tier 2’ when discussing more advanced vocabulary e.g. evaluate, contradiction, phenomenon; and ‘tier 3’ when using subject-specific vocabulary e.g. oxidation, hypotenuse, pathetic fallacy.

We also try to incorporate etymology of key terms in our teaching so that students learn to break down the sections of words and build up their meaning. 

But literacy is not only abut reading and writing – we want our students to be excellent orators too – we focus on our students being able to fully express their thoughts in spoken language that is correct, expressive and expansive as well as being linguistically accurate.  When we meet people for the first time, our oracy skills are one of the factors on which a first impression is made – it is our aim for all of our students to be able to speak well and make excellent first impressions.  One of the things we encourage is the use of full phrases and sentences – for example if a question is posed in an English lesson – who killed Macbeth? The answer “Macduff” is corrected to “Macduff killed Macbeth. He was able to do this because he ‘was not of woman born’”.  We also insist on referring to staff correctly and fully, using their title and surname.  Parents can help their children’s oracy develop by similarly insisting on the use of full sentences at home.

Everybody is somebody