Literacy & Oracy

Literacy and Oracy at Bishopshalt 

All teachers at Bishopshalt School are teachers of literacy and oracy. Teachers understand the disciplinary literacy of their subject and this underpins the curriculum.  Staff and students have high expectations of literacy in both their speaking and their writing. Therefore, students are able to articulate their ideas and express them fluently and with confidence. Teachers actively work to develop students' vocabulary  through modelling and a breadth of reading. All students are taught to read rich texts with confidence in order that they are able to Love Learning, Chase Brilliance and have Brighter Futures.

Literacy is important because: 

  • students of all abilities need a rich vocabulary and both accuracy and clarity of expression to access the broad and ambitious curriculum
  • reading, writing and speaking fluently are essential skills, which give students access to their chosen pathways beyond school and enable them to have ‘brighter futures’
  • writing clearly allows students to communicate their knowledge and understanding effectively both in school and beyond
  • improving literacy allows students full access to the breadth of curriculum on offer
  • improving literacy can have a significant impact on students’ self-esteem and on their motivation and behaviour, because it allows them to learn independently and so empowers them
  • through a variety of oracy opportunities, students become more confident and are able to find their voice, both literally and metaphorically
  • increased levels of literacy and oracy are fundamental to diminishing the differences for our disadvantaged students


We  give students a range of opportunities for developing their oracy, including planning an oracy curriculum which embeds skills from the nationally recognised Voice 21 Oracy Framework across all subjects at KS3, so that students are taught both to talk and through talk. At Bishopshalt school, we help students find their voice, both literally and metaphorically, as we recognise this is an integral skill to ensure they have ‘bright futures’. 

Literacy and Oracy Opportunities Across the Curriculum 

  • We raise the profile of literacy across the school and promote its importance through a continuous cycle of professional learning and curriculum planning
  • We ensure early reading interventions are promptly established for students arriving at Bishopshalt below expected levels in reading
  • We embed a range of interventions to ensure students are taught to read and catch up entirely, in the knowledge that it is impossible for students to access the curriculum otherwise
  • create a culture of reading across the school and ensure that students are experiencing a range of high quality texts which are both literary and discursive
  • carefully plan and sequence the teaching of disciplinary literacy, focusing on explicit vocabulary instruction, as part of curriculum planning  
  •  raise the profile of oracy and communication through the a planned oracy curriculum, CPD, tutor times, assemblies and Bishopshalt Drop Down Days

In addition we run: 

Bishopshalt Ignite

All students in Years 7 and 8 write a 3-5 minute speech, which they will learn by heart and learn to present to an unfamiliar audience. All students will present their speeches during our Build Character Drop Down Day. The Ignite programme is taught alongside units on The Power of Rhetoric in the English curriculum. 

The Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge

Our Year 10 students are invited to workshops which prepare them to take part in this external public speaking competition. This programme has transformed hundreds of thousands of young lives – helping students to find their voices and show their capabilities to their peers and communities. In 2023 the programme will reach the extraordinary milestone of 250,000 students trained.

Tutor Time Programme Literacy

Once a week during tutor time, tutors engage in shared reading to support students to read texts they may otherwise not encounter. Tutors provide a model of what a ‘good reader’ is and challenges them to encounter news articles from The Day to help them improve their cultural literacy,  build character and become engaged citizens. All students are able to access The Day and can read articles from home. 


All students in Key Stage Three have a Bedrock account. Bedrock offers students a comprehensive vocabulary curriculum. It significantly increases students' academic vocabulary through original fiction and non-fiction. They also work through their grammar programme, to build on and sustain their grammar knowledge from primary school. Key Stage Three students have two pieces of homework to do on Bedrock a week. 

Almitas House Reading Intervention 

We recognise that sometimes students need additional support to address gaps in reading, as these gaps can prevent them from fully accessing our ambitious curriculum. Our ambition for all students is that they will become fluent readers, who are able to understand fiction and non-fiction texts to a level appropriate for their chronological age independently. 

Students who attend these sessions are taught to be fluent in several techniques used by expert readers in order to gain meaning from texts. These groups are capped at a maximum of 10 students with one highly skilled teacher. They have two lessons a week.  

In these groups, students will learn a wide range of vocabulary and engage with rich anchor texts. They will be able to increase their reading speed and improve their tone and intonation when reading. Students will be taught key reading skills including:

  • making links
  • reading backwards and forwards
  • reading to punctuation
  • making inferences
  • questioning
  • visualising
  • reading texts closely, actively and with vigour
  • building knowledge of vocabulary
  • reading with intonation
  • reading to develop their cultural capital, which will support students in making valid inferences

Many of the students who are in our Reading Fluency Programme, will also be supported by the Lexia phonics scheme and join our Buddy Reading Programme. 

Buddy Reading

The Buddy Reading Scheme involves ‘pairing’ younger readers at KS3 with older, more experienced students in KS5 during Form Time once a week. This is overseen by a highly experienced English teacher and our Literacy Lead Practitioner who trains the sixth form mentors in the reading strategies being used in Almitas House, and across the school. Reading Buddies is well established and has been very successful, with less confident readers becoming more relaxed when reading with their KS5 partner. 

Scholastic Book Fair

Throughout the year, all students in each year of Key Stage 3 have the chance to buy books at fantastic prices at the Scholastic Book Fair.  Years 7, 8 and 9 will have individual slots throughout the year where they can browse and buy, with a percentage of the money of every book being sold given back to the schools so we can buy more books.  In the build up to each event, competitions are held to get students excited about it, and it is always very successful!
This is the normal schedule for when the Book Fair will come, and for what year group:
Year 7 - Autumn Term
Year 8 - Spring Term
Year 9 - Summer Term