"The more you read, the more things you know, the more you learn, the more places you go", Dr Seuss

The ability to communicate effectively is crucial to every young person in our school and we seek to promote high standards of literacy and the correct use of standard English. We do this through a range of strategies to support in their written and oral communication and by encouraging reading.

We have 3 key strategies which we use to develop literacy and every teacher uses at least one of the strategies in every lesson. There is a column to enter a literacy focus or notes in the lesson planner and the focus should be ‘signposted’ to students during the lesson.

1. Speaking for learning

Speaking and listening skills play a significant role within the development of students’ literacy.  Teachers need to ensure that they plan to use a range of speaking for learning activities to aid students’ learning.  By using speaking activities to verbally explore, discuss or debate a topic, students’ knowledge and confidence of the topic will be enhanced. This will then help engage students in reading and writing activities that follow.
Some suggested Speaking for Learning activities are:
P4C discussions

2. Vocabulary (V)

Developing students’ vocabulary is a vital aspect of literacy. Teachers need to plan into their lessons activities that will ensure that students’ language skills develop. Teachers should ensure that they teach students new words and become more fluent in using a range of vocabulary with confidence. Engaging students within speaking for learning activities to learn new vocabulary before completing written tasks is good practice. Communication skills are enhanced greatly by the confident use of varied vocabulary.
Some suggested Vocabulary activities are:
Key words
Word walls
Definition challenges

3. The Onion (O)

Teachers plan time to allow students to reflect on the accuracy of their written work. Students identify errors in line with the five layers of the Onion either reflecting on their own writing, or by using the Onion  to identify errors in their partner’s writing. A period of self or supported correction time should follow.  Teachers can later read through the self correction and plan to address arising grammatical errors using the Wheatley Park School Literacy marking code.
Every department has their own departmental onion specialised for their subject area.

Some suggested Onion activities are: 

  • Self assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Planning extended writing  

Wheatley Park School Marking Code

P        Punctuation error
Sp      Spelling error (it is good practice to get the student to write out the correct spelling three times)
/         Start a new sentence
//        Start a new paragraph
SE      Standard English
?        Unclear  meaning


General information

National Literacy Trust
Writing in SPEED


Online writing support
Online thesaurus
Online dictionary


Brazilian students correcting the grammar of celebrities
WPS students talking about full stops
WPS students talking about commas
WPS students talking about colons
WPS students talking about semi-colons

Reading lists

KS3 reading for pleasure lists