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GEOFF BARTON : Making an Impact with Literacy Thurrock Literacy Conference Friday, March 7, 2014 Download this presentation at LITERACY FOR LEARNING Why is whole-school literacy one of the most important things we can be doing? How to achieve IMPACT?

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Making an Impact with Literacy

Thurrock Literacy Conference

Friday, March 7, 2014

Download this presentation at



Why is whole-school literacy one of the most important things we can be doing?

How to achieve IMPACT?

How can we help learners in their reading?


Why do we need it?

  • Nearly 40% of pupils make a loss and no progress in the year following transfer, related to a decline in motivation
  • Pupils characterise work in Years 7 and 8 as ‘repetitive, unchallenging and lacking in purpose’
  • “Year 7 adds so little value that actually missing the year would not disadvantage some children” (Prof John West-Burnham)

It’s an L&T thing

‘Standards are raised ONLY by changes which are put into direct effect by teachers and pupils in classrooms’

Black and Wiliam,

‘Inside the Black Box’

“Schools are places where the pupils go to watch the teachers working” (John West-Burnham)

“For many years, attendance at school has been required (for children and for teachers) while learning at school has been optional.” (Stoll, Fink & East)

literacy for learning





Please don't smoke and live a more healthy life

PSE Poster

literacy for learning8


Sign at Suffolk hospital:

Criminals operate in this area

literacy for learning10


  • Churchdown parish magazine:
  • ‘would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the church labelled ‘for the sick” is for monetary donations only’
literacy for learning11


Why cross-curricular literacy?

literacy for learning12


The literacy context ...

  • A 1997 survey showed that of 12 European countries, only Poland and Ireland had lower levels of adult literacy
  • 1-in-16 adults cannot identify a concert venue on a poster that contains name of band, price, date, time and venue
  • 7 million UK adults cannot locate the page reference for plumbers in the Yellow Pages


More than half of British motorists cannot interpret road signs properly, according to a survey by the Royal Automobile Club.

The survey of 500 motorists - conducted to mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Highway Code - highlighted just how many people are still grappling with it.


According to the survey, three in five motorists thought a "be aware of cattle" warning sign indicated …

an area infected with foot-and-mouth disease.


Common mistakes

  • No motor vehicles - Beware of fast motorbikes
  • Wild fowl - Puddles in the road
  • Riding school close by - "Marlborough country"  advert
october 2005 key findings17

October 2005: Key findings

  • The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), published in 2003, found that, although the reading skills of 10 year old pupils in England compared well with those of pupils in other countries, they read less frequently for pleasure and were less interested in reading than those elsewhere.
  • An NFER reading survey (2003), conducted by Marian Sainsbury, concluded that children’s enjoyment of reading had declined significantly in recent years.
  • A Nestlé/MORI report highlighted the existence of a small core of children who do not read at all, described as an ‘underclass’ of non-readers, together with cycles of non-reading ‘where teenagers from families where parents are not readers will almost always be less likely to be enthusiastic readers themselves
october 2005 key findings18

October 2005: Key findings

  • The role of teaching assistants was described in the report as ‘increasingly effective’. Many of them are responsible for teaching the intervention programmes and this work has improved in quality as a result of improvements in their specialist knowledge.
october 2005 key findings19

October 2005: Key findings

  • The Strategy has improved some teachers’ understanding of the importance of pupils’ literacy in developing their subject knowledge and to some effective teaching, especially in writing and the use of subject-specific vocabulary. Despite this, weaknesses remain, including:
    • the stalling of developments as senior management teams focus on other initiatives
    • lack of robust measures to evaluate the impact of developments across a range of subjects
    • a focus on writing at the expense of reading, speaking and listening.
key principles of literacy across the curriculum

Key principles of Literacy Across the Curriculum

  • Good literacy skills are a key factor in raising standards across all subjects
  • Language is the main medium we use for teaching, learning and developing thinking, so it is at the heart of teaching and learning
  • Literacy is best taught as part of the subject, not as an add-on
  • All teachers need to give explicit attention to the literacy needed in their subject.

Consistency in teaching literacy is achieved when …

  • Literacy skills are taught consistently and systematically across the curriculum
  • Expectation of standards of accuracy and presentation are similar in all classrooms
  • Teachers are equipped to deal with literacy issues in their subject both generically and specifically
  • The same strategies are used across the school: the teaching sequence for writing; active reading strategies; planning speaking and listening for learning
  • Teachers use the same terminology to describe language.

Ofsted suggests literacy across the curriculum is good when

  • Senior managers are actively involved in the planning and monitoring
  • Audits and action planning are rigorous
  • Monitoring focuses on a range of approaches, e.g. classroom observation, work scrutiny as well as formal tests
  • Time is given to training, its dissemination and embedding
  • Schools work to identified priorities.
literacy impact24


So what are we going to do about it at whole-school level…?


Focus relentlessly on T&L

‘Standards are raised ONLY by changes which are put into direct effect by teachers and pupils in classrooms’

Black and Wiliam,

‘Inside the Black Box’

“Schools are places where the pupils go to watch the teachers working” (John West-Burnham)

“For many years, attendance at school has been required (for children and for teachers) while learning at school has been optional.” (Stoll, Fink & East)


Key players


Strategy manager

Working party



Teaching assistants

Subject leaders



Key players

Strategy manager

Focus, tailor, customise

See as professional development rather than delivery

Differentiate training

Emphasise monitoring more than initiatives

Use pupil surveys for learning & teaching



Must be actively involved as head TEACHER

Eg monitoring books, breakfast with students, feedback to staff

Must be seen in lessons

Must be reined in to prioritise



Key part in improving literacy

Include in training

Part of curriculum meetings

Library should embody good practice - eg key words, guidance on retrieving information, visual excitement

Active training for students, breaking down subject barriers

Get a library commitment from every team

Then sample to monitor it



Visit library, get in classrooms, talk to students

Clearly signal the “literacy” focus

Emphasise s/he’s discussing consistency

Sample of students and feedback

Part of faculty reviews on (say) how we teach reading


Working party

Maintain or disband?

Less doing and more evaluating - questionnaires, looking at handouts, working around rooms, talking to students

Asking questions: “What do teachers here do that helps you to understand long texts better?”

Work sampling

Creating a critical mass



Tell us how we’re doing

Build into school council

Small groups work with faculty teams to guide and evaluate

Audit rooms for key words, etc


Teaching Assistants

Make them literacy experts

Let them lead training

Make their monitoring role explicit

Publish their feedback


Subject leaders

Help them to identify the 3 bits of literacy that will have the biggest impact

Prioritise one per term or year

Join their meetings at start and end of process

Help them to keep it simple

Provide models and sample texts


Build literacy into their team’s performance management

literacy for learning37


Why do students find it harder to understand non-fiction than fiction?

literacy for learning38


  • Fiction is more personal. Non-fiction has fewer agents:
    • Holidays were taken at resorts
    • During the 17th century roads became straighter
literacy for learning39


Children’s fiction tends to be chronological.

Fiction becomes easier to read; non-fiction presents difficulties all the way through

literacy for learning40


Non-fiction texts rely on linguistic signposts - moreover, despite therefore, on the other hand, however.

Learners who are unfamiliar with these will not read with the same predictive power as they can with fiction

literacy for learning41


Non-fiction tends to have more interrupting constructions:

The agouti, a nervous 20-inch rodent from South America, can leap twenty feet from a sitting position

Asteroids are lumps of rock and metal whose paths round the sun lie mainly between Jupiter and Mars

literacy for learning42


Fiction uses more active verbs.

Non-fiction relies more on the copula (“Oxygen is a gas”) and use of the passive:

Some plastics are made by …

rather than

We make plastics by …

literacy impact43


Subject-specific vocabulary

Approaches to reading


Active research process, not FOFO

Using DARTs

literacy impact44


  • Teaching subject-specific vocabulary:
  • Identifying
  • Playing with context
  • Actively exploring
  • Linking to spelling
literacy impact45


  • Approaches to reading:
    • Scanning
    • Skimming
    • Continuous reading
    • Close reading
    • Research skills, not FOFO
literacy impact46


  • Using DARTs:
    • Cloze
    • Diagram completion
    • Disordered text
    • Prediction

England won the first corner straight off in the first minute, and from the clearance coming out, Gazza fired in a rocket of a volley that looked to be just curving wide – but Illgner lunged to push it away anyhow, and we had a second corner. And then we had a third … ourfootball was surging and relentless – we were playing like the Germans did, and the Germans didn’t like it. Bruises and knocks, sore joints and worn limbs, forget it – there’s no end to the magic hope can work. Wright had Klinsmann under wraps; Waddle released Parker, Beardsley went through once, and then again … Hassler took the German’s first serious strike, and it deflected away from Pearce for their first corner – but Butcher towered up, and headed away. Then Wright picked a through ball off Klinsmann’s feet; the German looked angry and rattled. You could feel their pace, their threat – but still we had them, and the first phase was all England.

No question: England could win this.

The press box was buzzing. Gazza tangled with Brehme; he got another shot in, then broke to the left corner, won a free-kick …

Let’s all have a disco

Let’s all have a disco.

It was more than a disco, it was history.


The Life of Charles Dickens

Chapter 1

CHARLES DICKENS, the most popular novelist of the century, and one of the greatest humorists that England has produced, was born at Lanport, in Portsea, on Friday, the seventh of February, 1812.

His father, John Dickens, a clerk in the navy pay-office, was at this time stationed in the Portsmouth Dockyard. He had made acquaintance with the lady, Elizabeth Barrow, who became afterwards his wife, through her elder brother, Thomas Barrow, also engaged on the establishment at Somerset House, and she bore him in all a family of eight children, of whom two died in infancy. The eldest, Fanny (born 1810), was followed by Charles (entered in the baptismal register of Portsea as Charles John Huffham, though on the very rare occasions when he subscribed that name he wrote Huffam); by another son, named Alfred, who died in childhood; by Letitia (born 1816); by another daughter, Harriet, who died also in childhood; by Frederick (born 1820); by Alfred Lamert (born 1822); and by Augustus (born 1827).



CHARLES DICKENS was dead. He lay on a narrow green sofa – but there was room enough for him, so spare had he become – in the dining room of Gad’s Hill Place. He had died in the house which he had first seen as a small boy and which his father had pointed out to him as a suitable object of his ambitions; so great was his father’s hold upon his life that, forty years later, he had bought it. Now he had gone. It was customary to close the blinds and curtains, thus enshrouding the corpse in darkness before its last journey to the tomb; but in the dining room of Gad’s Hill the curtains were pulled apart and on this June day the bright sunshine streamed in, glittering on the large mirrors around the room. The family beside him knew how he enjoyed the light, how he needed the light; and they understood, too, that none of the conventional sombreness of the late Victorian period – the year was 1870 – had ever touched him.

All the lines and wrinkles which marked the passage of his life were new erased in the stillness of death. He was not old – he died in his fifty-eighth year – but there had been signs of premature ageing on a visage so marked and worn; he had acquired, it was said, a “sarcastic look”. But now all that was gone and his daughter, Katey, who watched him as he lay dead, noticed how there once more emerged upon his face “beauty and pathos”.

prediction fun


Brian Moore, Cold Heaven



The wooden seats of the little pedal boat were angled so that Marie looked up at the sky. There were no clouds. In the vastness above her a gull calligraphed its flight. Marie and Alex pedalled in unison, the revolving paddles making a slapping sound against the waves as the pedal boat treadmilled away from the beach, passing through ranks of bathers to move into the deeper, more solitary waters of the Baie des Anges. Marie slackened her efforts but Alex continued determinedly, steering the pedalo straight out into the Mediterranean.



‘Let’s not go too far,’ she said.

‘I want to get away from the crowd. I’m going to swim.’

It was like him to have some plan of his own, to translate idleness into activity even in these few days of vacation. She now noted his every fault. It was as though, having decided to leave him, she had withdrawn his credit. She looked back at the sweep of hotels along the Promenade des Anglais. Today was the day she had hoped to tell him. She had planned to announce it at breakfast and leave, first for New York, then on to Los Angeles to join Daniel. But at breakfast she lacked all courage. Now, with half the day gone, she decided to postpone it until tomorrow.



Far out from shore, the paddles stopped. The pedalo rocked on its twin pontoons as Alex eased himself up from his seat. He handed her his sunglasses. ‘This should do,’ he said and, rocking the boat even more, dived into the ultramarine waters. She watched him surface. He called out: ‘Just follow along, okay?’ He was not a good swimmer, but thrashed about in an energetic, erratic freestyle. Marie began to pedal again, her hand on the tiller, steering the little boat so that she followed close. Watching him, she knew he could not keep up this pace for long. She saw his flailing arms and for a moment thought of those arms hitting her. He had never hit her. He was not the sort of man who would hit you. He would be hurt, and cold, and possibly vindictive. But he was not violent.



She heard a motorboat, the sound becoming louder. She looked back but did not see a boat behind her. Then she looked to the right where Alex was swimming and saw a big boat with an outboard motor coming right at them, coming very fast.



Of course they see us, she thought, alarmed, and then as though she were watching a film, as though this were happening to someone else, she saw there was a man in the motorboat, a young man wearing a green shirt; he was not at the tiller, he was standing in the middle of the boat with his back to her and as she watched he bent down and picked up a child who had fallen on the floorboards. ‘Hey?’ she called. ‘Hey?’ for he must turn around, the motorboat was coming right at Alex, right at her. But the man in the boat did not hear. He carried the child across to the far side of the boat; the boat was only yards away now.



‘Alex,’ she called. ‘Alex, look out.’ But Alex flailed on and then the prow of the motorboat, slicing up water like a knife, hit Alex with a sickening thump, went over him and smashed into the pontoons of the little pedal boat, upending it, and she found herself in the water, going under, coming up. She looked and saw the motorboat churning off, the pedal boat hanging from its prow like a tangle of branches. She heard the motorboat engine cut to silence, then start up again as the boat veered around in a semicircle and came back to her. Alex?



She looked: saw his body near her just under the water. She swam toward him, breastroke, it was all she knew. He was floating face down, spread-eagle. She caught hold of his wrist and pulled him towards her. The motorboat came alongside, the man in the green shirt reaching down for her, but, ‘No, no,’ she called and tried to push Alex toward him. The man caught Alex by the hair of his head and pulled him up, she pushing, Alex falling back twice into the water, before the man, with a great effort, lifted him like a sack across the side of the boat, tugging and heaving until Alex disappeared into the boat. The man shouted, ‘Un instant, madame, un instant’ and reappeared, putting a little steel ladder over the side. She climbed up onto the motorboat as the man went out onto the prow to disentangle the wreckage of the pedalo.



A small child was sitting at the back of the boat, staring at Alex’s body, which lay face-down on the floorboards. She went to Alex and saw blood from a wound, a gash in the side of his head, blood matting his hair. He was breathing but unconscious. She lifted him and cradled him in her arms, his blood trickling onto her breasts. She saw the boat owner’s bare legs go past her as he went to the rear of the boat to restart the engine. The child began to bawl but the man leaned over, silenced it with an angry slap, the man turned to her, his face sick with fear. ‘Nous y serons dans un instant,’ he shouted, opening the motor to full throttle. She hugged Alex to her, a rivulet of blood dripping off her forearm onto the floorboards as the boat raced to the beach.

prediction fun59


Brian Moore, Cold Heaven

kick start learning

 Don’t aim for false links with main lesson content

Kick-start learning

 No Blue Peter badges

 Do aim for coherence across starters

 Emphasise collaboration & problem-solving

 Avoid writing

 Avoid the temptation to extend the activity

www geoffbarton co uk

-ible -able

www geoffbarton co uk63


Sound of Music Kylie Beethoven

their there they’re

too two to

pray prey

www geoffbarton co uk64



Freeze Stand

advice advise

practice practise

effect affect

It’s its


Jake began to dial the number slowly as he had done every evening at six o’clock ever since his father had passed away. For the next fifteen minutes he settled back to listen to what his mother had done that day

It was on a bright day of midwinter, in New York. The little girl who eventually became me, but as yet was neither me nor anybody else in particular, but merely a soft anonymous morsel of humanity – this little girl, who bore my name, was going for a walk with her father. The episode is literally the first thing I can remember about her, and therefore I date the birth of her humanity from that day.

Urquhart castle is probably one of the most picturesquely situated castles in the Scottish Highlands. Located 16 miles south-west of Inverness, the castle, one of the largest in Scotland, overlooks much of Loch Ness. Visitors come to stroll through the ruins of the 13th-century castle because Urquhart has earned the reputation of being one of the best spots for sighting Loch Ness’s most famous inhabitant


So ..

If it’s a priority, do something

Customise and simplify ruthlessly

Identify the essential (simple) skills of reading - eg by asking students

Build into school systems of training, observation, performance management

Don’t forget reading for pleasure: keep it in the public domain



Making an Impact with Literacy

Thurrock Literacy Conference

Friday, March 7, 2014

Download this presentation at