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What is literacy?

Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that allows us to make sense of the world around us and to be able to communicate with others effectively. It is a crucial skill for all students.

Why does literacy matter?

We know that literacy struggles are linked to life chances; literacy skills are often used to measure the population and those who read and write fluently often have better life chances. We also know that over the course of secondary school, the gap between students who read and those who don’t widens and that this impedes their progress across all their studies. Similarly, as students age the number who enjoy writing (and therefore practising key skills) declines.  As such, improving and promoting literacy is a vital task to ensure the best life chances, academic attainment and overall wellbeing.

This evidence is not apocryphal - the headline grabbing facts from the National Literacy Trust are:

  • “A boy born in Stockton Town Centre (an area with serious literacy challenges) has a life expectancy 26.1 years shorter than a boy born in North Oxford”
  • “10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who do not enjoy reading, rising to … 3.3 years for 14-year-olds”
  • “Younger children enjoy writing almost twice as much as their older peers (68.5% of 8 to 11-year-olds, 46.5% of 11 to 14-year-olds, 36% of 14 to 16-year-olds).”
  • “Children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than children who don’t enjoy it.”

Literacy at CVC

At Comberton Village College we believe that the development of literacy skills is an entitlement for all our pupils and providing opportunities for pupils to develop and consolidate skills in writing, reading and communication is the responsibility of the whole school community.

Literacy is taught across the school curriculum. Students have lessons that focus on reading and we promote literacy throughout the school year with a number of events, such as the Kids Lit Quiz, the Carnegie Shadowing Book Club and World Book Day celebrations.

We also offer extra reading support for students. This takes several different forms, from extra help in class to reading mentors who will work one to one with your child during the school day, for short, focused support.

Help for parents

Reading recommendations

Reading tastes are personal and individual to each of us and so it is usually the case that a student will profit most from a discussion with the school librarians and teachers if they want a helpful recommendation. That said, for general advice The School Reading Place has lots of good recommendations organised by age.

Reading with your child

This document (Reading with children to the left of this page) has some information on reading with children and some hopefully helpful hints for resources and techniques. It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it a set of instructions or homework for adults! It is only intended to be a guide and to help out if you are looking for tips or advice.

Help with reluctant readers             

In school we do all we can to support and encourage students who do not like to read for one reason or another. Frequently, we are asked what can be done at home to support readers. Sadly, there is no magic bullet that works for every child, but this resource has lots of helpful tips, some are directed towards younger readers but there’s a lot there that is useful for secondary school aged children too.

Writing competitions

Throughout the school year we run a number of reading and writing competitions, such as the BBC 500 words competition. We find that students who normally don’t enjoy writing will often engage with the competition element of these, especially if there’s a tempting prize to be one! There are so many different competitions that can be entered, if you’d like to explore this further this list will help.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG)

This is an area where students often feel self-conscious. These skills are taught explicitly in the English curriculum but there are also helpful resources if you would like to support these skills at home. The BBC bitesize website offers some very helpful resources. This resource also has some links to some fun, but informative, word games.

Similarly, this resource (OCR SPAG Guide - please see to left of this page) produced by OCR is helpful, especially as it has good links to useful exercises.

Finally, for many of us adults, we were not necessarily taught these things ourselves in our time at school, in that case the BBC Skillwise website can serve as a handy refresher.


Unlike at KS2, handwriting isn’t measured as a marker of a student’s progress at secondary school. Nonetheless, students can sometimes feel self-conscious about their handwriting or may have some problems with legibility. These concerns are best discussed with your child’s form tutor or teachers, but there are also resources available to help parents from the National Handwriting Association