Hexham Middle School is committed to improving the pupils’ standards of literacy with a consistent approach across all curriculum areas. Literacy refers to a person’s ability to read, write and communicate effectively, in a range of ways to a variety of audiences. Effective Literacy across the Curriculum will develop the pupils’ ability to:

  • Write for a variety of audiences and purposes, collect information, organise ideas and write accurately in order to demonstrate what they know across subject areas.
  • Access information and read with understanding and comprehension.
  • Communicate effectively, across a range of contexts, developing their ability to negotiate, hypothesise, present information and clarify understanding.

It is our intent that we will provide high quality texts in all year groups, and in a variety of curriculum subjects, in order to support learning and progress. Teachers will share form time novels and promote a love of reading in form times as well as in lessons. This should have an impact on their motivation, self-esteem and ability to work independently; it is vital that pupils are allowed to become competent language users in order to lead successful and productive adult lives. It is essential that all subject areas take responsibility for pupils’ literacy development and that, as a school, we support all learners – regardless of prior attainment – to achieve highly. Ambition for all, including those with SEND, is at the heart of our literacy policy.


All teachers value the opinions and ideas of all pupils by involving pupils in the progress of their literacy through meaningful marking and regular feedback. They inform pupils of the purpose behind any reading, writing or communication task they’re asked to complete and make texts in all subjects accessible to all pupils. Having high ambitions for all learners, including those with SEND, means we offer frameworks and checklists to support extended writing or reading tasks. Across the curriculum, pupils are introduced explicitly to subject specific terminology through the use of ‘Buzzwords’. Below is an outline of how we, as teachers, implement literacy across all curriculum areas:


  • Provide opportunity for paired and group discussion
  • Make explicit the expectations of such discussions
  • Make explicit the value of talk as an essential part of learning
  • Set occasional speaking and listening tasks for homework, where appropriate
  • Provide opportunities for use of varying degrees of formality in spoken and written work
  • Support those who struggle to communicate effectively in a range of situations by modelling good practice and encouraging participation.


  • Encourage pupils to read for information and understanding, as well as eliciting pupils’ existing knowledge about a topic beforehand
  • Provide a range of strategies for pupils to gain meaning from a text, eg: annotation, summarising, skimming and scanning
  • Provide opportunities for reading and response using the VIPERS question stems, where appropriate
  • Encourage pupils to think critically about texts which are studied across the curriculum
  • Provide a wide range of reading material relevant to the subject area which is varied, relevant and up-to-date
  • Display subject-specific vocabulary (Buzzwords) in classrooms
  • Value reading as an enjoyable activity
  • Support those who have difficulties with reading, through: provision of word banks, guided group tasks, opportunities to read aloud in small group or 1-2-1 situations.


  • Provide models of particular types of writing and presentation, where appropriate
  • Where possible, offer real audiences and purposes for writing
  • Actively teach the style of writing necessary for the different subject areas
  • Model and demonstrate the writing process for pupils, including the use of success criteria
  • Focus on content, vocabulary and technical skills
  • Offer opportunities for extended writing through planning, drafting and revisiting work
  • Offer opportunities for written work in a range of genre and for a range of purposes and audiences
  • Encourage the learning of correct spelling through the use of ‘Buzzwords’
  • Actively teach and support the pupils’ understanding of disciplinary literacy in all curriculum subjects in order to support the work of the English team
  • Use the school’s agreed correcting method in conjunction with the TLF marking policy and LITAC non-negotiables to provide feedback on pupils’ work
  • Encourage high standards of handwriting and presentation at all times
  • In year five, support the pupils to achieve their pen licences by signing these where appropriate.


  • Identify and teach subject specific ‘Buzzwords’ up to a maximum of three per lesson and record these in exercise books
  • Use ‘S’ comment in the marking policy to comment on spelling errors in written work
  • Limit the number of spelling corrections to five per piece of work
  • Allow pupils time to copy out and correct mistakes, using a dictionary where appropriate
  • Provide lists of subject-specific Buzzwords on displays in classrooms
  • Highlight spelling strategies for unfamiliar words.


In any classroom around our school, you will see literacy being supported in a multitude of ways. The staff and pupils’ familiarity with the VIPERS acronym, the Buzzwords policy and the Non-Negotiables mean these strategies are used in all lessons, in all year groups. When requiring a written response, teachers model expectations and guide or scaffold as necessary for pupils who require support. They use success criteria checklists and promote high standards of presentation and handwriting. The impact of which is pupils understand that their reading, writing, spelling and communication skills are developed in all lessons and their teachers support them at all times. Pupils are proud of their work and are keen to share their success in other subjects with their English teachers.