Hamstead Hall Academy

Hamstead Hall Academy
Part of the Hamstead Hall Academy Trust Hamstead Hall Sixth Form

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"Success for All through Hard Work and Harmony"

Literacy Provision


Our goals are shaped by Murphy’s (2018) assertion that ‘language is the door. Reading is the key’ and that ‘in the context of teaching, mastery of language is essential, because in addition to a myriad of social and emotional messages, we are also seeking to communicate knowledge and help our students apply that knowledge in meaningful ways.’ We therefore adopt an evidence-informed framework of reading interventions, classroom pedagogy and cultural growth recognising the power of literacy in enacting social advancement. Our ambitious goal is that all students in the academy are trained to reach at least their chronological reading age by the end of Year 10, and are given every chance to do so.


Literacy Strategy:

At Hamstead Hall, our literacy strategy is five-fold, based on:

  1. Intervening with struggling readers.
  2. Adapting our teaching for EAL students.
  3. Explicit vocabulary instruction
  4. Implicit vocabulary instruction
  5. Implementing the Oracy Framework (2021).


  1. Intervening with struggling readers

We proactively intervene with struggling readers. Through analysis of nationally recognised CAT4 and NGRT tests we calculate students’ reading ages. Struggling readers are offered a programme of intervention with a specialist reading teacher, Miss Somerfield. Lessons are based on phonics and comprehension, with a blended approach offered to some readers. Progress is rapid, some students have made three years’ reading progress within a term. We believe that with early, purposeful and research-driven intervention, students will access our broad academic curriculum far more quickly than they would otherwise.


  1. Adapting our teaching for EAL students.

Hamstead Hall Academy teachers demonstrate an equity mindset in lesson planning to prioritise inclusivity for our EAL students. They prioritise provision of reading material over information contained within PowerPoint slides as a continual point of reference for language learners throughout a lesson and beyond. Explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction are combined in line with Lemov, Woolway and Driggs’ research in (2016) to maximise language immersion for EAL pupils new to the mainstream classroom environment. The academy has a specialist EAL department staffed by experts who teach using NALDIC-derived pedagogical strategies, rapidly increasing students’ rates of language acquisition when compared to a pure immersion approach.


  1. Explicit Vocabulary Instruction.

At Hamstead Hall Academy we demonstrate an equity mindset in lesson planning to prioritise inclusivity for our most vulnerable student groups with the greatest gap in chronological reading age versus peers.

We prioritise the provision of reading material in lessons over information contained within PowerPoint slides to expose students to high quality fiction and non-fiction texts from a range of genres, in varied, cross-curricular contexts. To scaffold high-quality reading texts, we explicitly teach the key vocabulary of each lesson, highlighting subject-specific (tier 3) terminology that would be otherwise unfamiliar, ensuring an equitable equal footing for learners accessing new content. Classrooms have a register continuum on display, based on Halliday’s 1985 framework, for teachers to consciously ‘upgrade’ colloquial language to an academic register.


  1. Implicit vocabulary instruction

Reading is the key to learning. Unlocking our pupils’ potential is dependent on the consistent provision of high-quality, high-challenge reading material across all subjects. We realise that our pupils’ journey in education does not end at Hamstead Hall Academy. Whether students leave at the end of Year 11 or Year 13, their next choices will require the ability to self-study and read texts across a variety of genres. We recognise the empowering nature of reading, that it enables students to use the powerful knowledge our broad curriculum provides for themselves. Young people need to use the tools their education provides, paying forward their skills to the next generation they raise. Lemov (2016) believes that non-fiction, in particular, acts as a form of social currency, unlocking career paths and building an academic self-concept. Academic self-conceptualisation is the transition from knowledge being ‘given’ by another, to seeing what is taught as an intrinsic part of one’s identity: expecting to be a knowledgeable, intelligent and confident young person, ready to take on the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Scarborough’s Reading Rope (2003) is on display in all classrooms, scaffolding teachers’ reading selections and prompting questions around the reading chosen.


  1. Implementing the Oracy Framework (2021)

Voice21’s Oracy Framework, developed in conjunction with Cambridge University, epitomises our belief in a progressive, empowering pedagogy that enables students to grow socially and academically in their time with us. We recognise that the pandemic had a disastrous effect on young people, bringing the development of their social skills to a shuddering halt. In conjunction with an extensive literacy strategy, we are working towards full implementation of the Oracy Framework in lessons. We believe that our pupils learn more effectively when they are taught to use the language of education; the language of power. We support students by providing explicit instruction to facilitate academic discussion in classrooms, shifting the ownership of academic content from teachers to pupils. Oracy was described by Mannion as having the potential to:


[Make pupils] bigger somehow – not physically, but more fully realised. Becoming more confident is a process of growing into yourself – of becoming more fully yourself, and becoming more comfortable in your own skin. It allows us to connect with others – a vital source of mental wellbeing. It enables us to communicate our needs and desires, and therefore to have them met. It enables us to realise the potential we each have.

(Mannion, S. 2023)

Furthermore, the EEF (2021) commented that a rigorous oracy education can ‘add six months additional progress’ to pupil outcomes’, helping pupils to gain life-enhancing qualifications leading to further education and improved employment prospects. Education is about more than academic attainment alone. Our school motto is ‘success for all through harmony and hard work’. We cannot enable success in a harmonious, empathetic environment without giving our pupils the verbal tools needed to communicate their growing knowledge of the world.

Overall, our literacy provision is rigorous and research-informed. Literacy develops the whole child, developing academic and social skills that lead to success in later life. We believe in high-challenge, high-quality academic reading, which is built upon through focused discussion. We believe that our strategy enables pupils to develop from recipients of powerful knowledge, to being able to use their growing knowledge for themselves, developing an academic self-concept, and being ‘fully realised’.


Reading Provision

Our Mission:

A key mission at Hamstead Hall Academy is to enable all students to reach their expected reading age, in line with their chronological age, by the end of Key Stage Three (Year 9). We recognise that when students reach our academy with a below national average level of reading, in most schools this translates to only one in five pupils passing English with a Grade 4 in their GCSE qualification taken at the end of Year 11. As an inclusive, nurturing academy, we believe in the power of reading to change lives and unlock the fullest potential contained within our pupils. We therefore adopt a research-driven and context-specific approach to reading.


Year 7:

We recognise that according to the Education Endowment Foundation (2019), Year 7 is a significant year in pupils’ reading development. We begin Year 7 with a ‘Language for Learning’ programme, highlighting disciplinary and cross-curricular literacy skills across the academy’s range of subjects. A reading ethos is instilled in our students from the very first day they arrive at our academy. We assess pupils’ reading continually, utilising CAT4 and NGRT testing as nationally recognised benchmarks to identify readers in need of greater support. On average, our pupils arrive at Hamstead Hall Academy with below national average reading ages. By the time pupils finish Year 10, their reading ages are four months in excess of their chronological age. Our curriculum, reading culture and interventions successfully transform weaker readers into literate, confident young people able to participate fully in our community and achieve their academic potential.



Students with reading ages significantly below their chronological age are selected for a programme of reading intervention delivered by a specialist reading teacher. We engage fully with the latest educative research, utilising a pure phonics approach for students who struggle to decode phonemes and a blended phonics/comprehension approach for readers able to comprehend at a basic level, but below what would be expected of a secondary school pupil. Finally, our intervention pupils move to a comprehension programme that embeds reading skills useful across the curriculum, enabling swift integration back into mainstream lessons.


Our Library:

Our library is the heart of Hamstead Hall Academy. A buzzing, bustling and lively hub, the library embodies our approach to literacy across the school. Caring, specialist staff with academic and pastoral presences far beyond the library walls publicise and encourage the library’s use as a vital tool to supplant pupils’ education. The library is a ‘safe space’ in the academy, where staff are always listening to pupils. Pupils respond with phenomenal engagement with our library resources, with over 3,000 books borrowed in the previous academic year. All students in Key Stage 3 have library lessons and are inducted into the library. The library is a popular study and social space, staffed by experts. We are very proud of our library and the impact it has on our pupils.



Reading is an important part of teachers’ pedagogical toolkit at Hamstead Hall Academy. Teachers are expected to explicitly teach key academic vocabulary (Quigley, 2017), in combination with implicit vocabulary instruction (Lemov, 2016) through the reading of high-quality texts across all lessons. Vocabulary instruction should consider the pragmatic uses of language across disciplines, for example the differences between ‘mean’ and ‘average’ in mathematics and the sciences. Teachers use Halliday’s Register Continuum (1983) to upgrade language from the colloquial to an academic register. Cultural capital is developed through ‘The Day’, a weekly tutor time resource dedicated to widening our pupils’ understanding of the wider world and current affairs through the reading of non-fiction. Teachers plan lessons that consider reading development through Scarborough’s Reading Rope (2001), a tool that breaks down the components of fluent reading to provoke purposeful, developmental questioning around texts read in class. Dedicated professional development opportunities for staff feature reading as a regular focus, with a specialist Assistant Headteacher and experts in literacy across the academy. Staff recognise the importance of literacy for our pupils and work tirelessly to raise the standard of reading across the academy to facilitate the increased life chances our academy is known for providing.


We are proud of our reading provision at Hamstead Hall Academy. Please feel free to direct any queries to:

Mr C. Scott

Assistant Headteacher: Literacy and Oracy

Hamstead Hall Academy