What schools mean by literacy?
Literacy includes reading and writing but is underpinned by speaking and listening. To quote the educationalist James Britton: "Reading and writing float on a sea of talk."
Learning English is about learning to use language to communicate as readers, writers, speakers and listeners.
So all primary schools aim that children will become independent readers and writers, confident speakers and active listeners.
To achieve this, they teach regular literacy lessons which focus on specific aspects of the English curriculum. Teachers also try to ensure that skills children learn in the literacy sessions get applied across the curriculum. For example, the children may learn how to write a report during literacy lessons and will be encouraged to transfer this knowledge when writing up an account of a class outing.
What is taught during a literacy lesson?
Teachers plan for all children in their class. There may be a wide range of abilities and some children may have particular needs, such as children for whom English is an additional language.
Most schools use the Primary National Strategy as the basis for their planning.
This includes units of work that cover the reading, writing, speaking and listening of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The teacher will select the relevant units for their class.
These link the teaching of writing to the teaching of reading ie the texts read are examined to see how a writer achieved his/her effect.
The teacher will demonstrate their version of a particular aspect of writing before the children write their own piece.
Examples of literacy lessons
Year 1: The poetry suggestions include a unit called Using the Senses — a range of poems will be shared based on the five senses.
Children are encouraged to listen to poems and write their own individually and as part of a class or group. This unit may be linked to work on the senses (from the science curriculum).
Year 3: The fiction units include adventure and mystery stories.
What makes a mystery/adventure story? How does the writer keep the reader involved? Children will be encouraged to write their own stories after the teacher has demonstrated the writing process.
Year 5: The non-fiction units include 'persuasive writing'. A range of texts will be looked at in terms of the language that is used. Texts may include adverts, films and newspaper articles. These texts will be examined in detail and, following a demonstration by the teacher, the children will write their own adverts, reports and so on.