Writing, Oracy and Reading Development (WORD)
Writing, speaking, and reading with fluency provides young people with the building blocks not just for academic success, but for fulfilling careers and rewarding lives. As such, we place great emphasis on WORD at Harris Academy Wimbledon.
As a parent or carer, you can do a lot to support your son or daughter in their writing, oracy and reading development. Below you will find some strategies to try at home, as well as additional information on how we embed WORD within our school.
Why does WORD matter?
In a word (excuse the pun), WORD is ‘transformative’. Evidence suggests that language development is the best predictor for later achievement in school. So, if we as a school, and you as parents, focus relentlessly on developing the ability of our young peoples’ writing, oracy and reading, they will be able to achieve ambitious life goals in the future.
How does the school promote writing?
- Competitions: for example the BBC 500 words competition, Foyles Young Poets competition, the HAWI Poetry Slam.
- In lessons: teachers will focus on explicit teaching of ambitious vocabulary (what we call ‘Tier 2 vocab’ – words like eloquent, gregarious, and shambolic). Teachers will also focus on explicit teaching of more sophisticated sentence structures. There will also be frequent opportunities for students to practice extended writing in lessons (why not take a look at your son or daughter’s books in History, English, RS and Geography to see some examples)
- Extracurricular clubs: we have a plethora (another example of a tier 2 word!) of extracurricular clubs which will encourage extended writing, for example Creative Writing Club and Debate Club.
How can I support my child with writing at home?
- Write letters: a simple way helping your child develop their writing skills is to write letters. For example, writing a thank you letter to a family member, teacher, or member of the community would encourage your son or daughter to articulate themselves to a more formal audience.
- Writing emails: this can also help develop writing skills. For example, writing an email to set up some work experience would need to be written formally, using language appropriate to someone who is not known to the writer.
- Writing diary entries: this can also help provide both an opportunity to develop writing skills as well as the ability to reflect on ones relationships and events of the day or week at school.
How does the school promote oracy?
- Turn and Talk: every subject prioritises opportunities in lessons for group discussion. We call this ‘turn and talk’. Teachers will use specific strategies to ensure the talk is of a high quality, including our acronyms APE (Articulate, Project, Eye contact) and ABC (Agree on, Build on, Challenge).
- Extracurricular clubs: as with writing, we have a host of clubs which will encourage high quality oracy including Debate Club, Drama Club, and active engagement clubs such as Eco Club which present to the senior leadership team.
- Principal’s Breakfast and Principal’s Tea: Mrs. Larizadeh will host students at points across the year for breakfast and tea. This is a sit-down meal in which Mrs. Larizadeh will engage in ‘adult discussion’ with her guests.
- Assembly and student voice: each week we have Lower and Upper School assembly. In each assembly there will be opportunities for students to present to their peers. This might be a choral recital, a poem or speech, or a testimony linking to a house value or event. We encourage students to commit to these whole heartedly to build in confidence.
- School plays/performances: each year the school will hold a school play, as well as celebrations such as the Winter Celebration. As with assemblies, these are chances for students to present to their peers, be it a poem, song, or speech.
- Competitions: we hold competitions across the year which promote oracy. For example the Poetry Slam competition, and Jack Petchey Challenge.
How can I support my child with oracy at home?
- Make your home a talking rich environment: this involves carving out time to get together as a family to talk. For example, at mealtimes or on the journey to school in the morning. Using focus points for discussion can widen your son or daughter’s vocabulary, for example talking about the ‘word of the day’ or current events in the news.
- Reading aloud: encouraging your child to read aloud at home will help develop not only their reading skills, but also their oracy.
How does the school promote reading?
- The HAWI Library: situated on the ground floor at the heart of the building, the HAWI library has over 4000 books from a diverse range of authors. All students are provided opportunities to engage with the library, for example during library lessons which take place for all lower school students each fortnight. Library opening times can be found here.
- Book reviews: each time a student finishes a book they will submit a book review to the librarian. Book reviews win house points and other rewards.
- HAWI Canon: the HAWI Canon is a reading list compiled of seventy books which we feel represent our values of independence, integrity and resilience. Students win extra house points if they submit book reviews of anything included in the Canon.
- DEAR time: each Friday all tutor groups engage in group reading. DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time is a great way of encouraging students to read for pleasure.
- Author visits: the HAWI library organises regular author visits, for example Michelle Paver, Sophie Anderson and Jamie Russell.
- Bedrock: selected students in Key Stage Three are signed up to Bedrock. This is an online platform which supports students in their reading and vocab development.
How can I support my child with reading at home?
- Check that they have a book to read for pleasure: the best way to develop a love of reading is to make sure your son or daughter has a book, and one that is appropriate to their age, ability, and interests. This will help them read for pleasure (rather than because they have been told to!).
- Build time into the day to read: we suggest that each child reads for twenty-thirty minutes a day. Where possible this should involve reading aloud to you, a sibling, or even a pet!
- Make your home a reading environment: this involves having books available, reading to your son or daughter when the opportunity arises, talking about books that you or they have read, and celebrating their successes in their reading development.
- Phonics: use phonics to help your child sound out new and unfamiliar words. You can find some helpful information on how phonics works on the BBC’s webpage ‘The Alphablocks’ Guide to Phonics’. Books in the Oxford Owl free eLibrary are suitable for students who are at the early stages of developing their reading skills.