020 8527 3750


Literacy unlocks the curriculum for students so we believe that a whole-school approach to literacy is essential.  At Walthamstow Academy, we therefore have a 3-pronged approach to literacy:

  1. Literacy in every classroom
  2. Catch-up support for students in KS3 working below expected standard.
  3. Cultivating a whole-school love of reading.

Key Terminology:

  • Literacy: Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen well.  A literate person is able to communicate effectively with others and to understand written information.
  • Decoding: The process of translating print into speech by rapidly matching a letter or combination of letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes) and recognizing the patterns that make syllables and words.
  • Comprehension: The ability to understand what you are reading. 

Literacy in every classroom


We want students to experience the rich beauty of language in the context of their lessons.  It is in the classroom that students will be exposed to subject-specific vocabulary which they will not otherwise encounter.  It is incumbent on all teachers to teach students how to produce excellent writing in their subject domain. 


At Walthamstow Academy, we use the Literacy 5 to ensure that all of our students receive consistent literacy developments across the school community:

Catch-up for students in KS3 working below expected standard


Students who cannot read read/write proficiently are hampered in nearly every lesson of every day.  These students require targeted intervention to enable them to become proficient in reading/writing so that they can return to their normal lessons and access the curriculum. 


  • Walthamstow Academy receives Catch Up Premium funding to support Year 7 students who arrive at secondary school having not made expected standards in reading and/or maths at the end of KS2. Details of how this funding is spent can be found here
  • CATs tests, SATs scores, teacher assessment and reading age test data help identify students with literacy levels below age related expectations.  Reading test information, alongside KPI data, determine whether difficulty is due to decoding or comprehension so that suitable intervention can be put in place.
  • Catch up students complete reading tests each term to track and monitor reading age progress.
  • Reading tests, Formative and Summative assessment and teacher feedback is used to identify and coordinate new groups of students each half term.
  • For students requiring support with comprehension, inference or writing, students are taught tailored programmes of study in order to make rapid progress in this area and close the gap. Programmes include: Hackney Lit, Grow@KS3, Inference training, DFEE national strategy Progress Units. We avoid withdrawing students from subject in which they would be exposed to a rich variety of language and knowledge e.g. English and Humanities.
  • For students requiring support with decoding and comprehension, we use Lexia. These students are withdrawn from tutor time three times per week to work in small groups. 
  • Sound Training intervention is utilised for KS4 students.

Cultivating a whole-school love of reading, words and grammar


In order to comprehend texts, we need to understand at least 90-95% of the words in the text.  The best way of building vocabulary is by exposing students to new words in context – the 5-10% of unknown words can be deciphered through understanding the other words in the sentence.  In this sense comprehension is subject to the ‘Matthew Effect’ – “to those who have, more shall be given”.  This helps explain why literacy gaps increase unless targeted action is taken to support students who are not proficient readers. 


  • The Accelerated Reader programme is used to motivate students to read through the winning of quizzes and prizes. Displays are used to track and publicise progress. Students’ heightened knowledge of their reading levels (ZPD) allows them to read more effectively and further, the data generated from the programme allows teachers to track who is and isn’t reading, which ensures targeted intervention and support for those students.
  • Students in KS3 have designated reading time in English (once a fortnight) where they follow the Accelerated Reader programme.   
  • Designated ‘Must-Reads’ sessions for Year 7 during form time where Year 7 tutors and forms read together for one forty-minute session a week together, focusing on the love of reading and comprehension. The tutors and students will be given guidance on the amount of reading to complete within the week and, in a bid to promote responsibility and independence, students will take books home to complete reading.
  • Inter-year paired takes please where whereby students from different year groups work together to improve reading in pairs of Reading Mentors and Reading Mentees. Reading Mentors receive three training sessions in order to guide them in their approach to the programme and are chosen using reading age data that either matches or exceeds their chronological age. Mentees are chosen using data that shows they are significantly below their chronological age.
  • Assemblies, guest speakers, clubs and displays are used to promote reading and words e.g. spelling tests of commonly misspelt words; grammar quizzes, word of the week; book of the week; book clubs; author visits; signs for each teacher “I am currently reading…”
  • The library is a vibrant, exciting space for students to be. 




Lexia offers students the support they need to become successful readers. Students work independently in the online activities, which provide: explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics instruction, methods to improve fluency and ways to enhance comprehension. We encourage students to use Lexia for at least ninety minutes per week. Students can access the site at school as well as from home.

If you have been told by the school to use Lexia, you can download the software from the Lexia website.

You can access Lexia Power Up by clicking here


You can access Lexia Core 5 by clicking here


The Accelerated Reader is a computer managed reading program. The children choose an Accelerated Reader book. After they read it, they take a short multiple choice question test on the computer. The computer scores the test and awards points to the student based on their performance.

AR is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his own level and reads it at his own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) AR gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.


Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.


Teachers and librarians help your child choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating, ensuring that your child can pass the quiz and experience success.

Each KS3 student at Walthamstow Academy has a log in for Accelerated Reader and is expected to go online at https://ukhosted21.renlearn.co.uk/2243311/ to quiz regularly, therefore showing that they are reading independently for at least twenty minutes a day.

Students are given form and individual prizes in order to encourage them to read as much as possible.

For parent FAQs, see this link: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R003985016GG79F2.pdf

If students have any problems with their Accelerated Reader account, they should speak to their English teacher at Walthamstow Academy.


©2020 Walthamstow Academy
United Learning