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Orchard Park High School


At Orchard Park, developing students' literacy is at the core of what we do: it is the key to accessing every subject. A high quality education that develops oracy and fluent written communication is not just a powerful lever for social justice but allows all students to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Our teaching and learning principles value literacy and oracy across the curriculum, foregrounding modelling, high quality explanations and visual support.

How we develop oracy

  • Each morning, students in Years 7 to 9 are read to for 25 minutes during our tutor time reading programme, which models fluency and articulation as well as exposing students to a wide range of narratives, each developing their understanding of the world around them. Staff pause and provide synonyms for less familiar words.

  • Through our PSHE curriculum, students are taught how to discuss various issues affecting the lives of young people and adults, debating a range of different perspectives on nuanced situations.

  • Our Year 10 students take part in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge during the spring term, learning how to craft the spoken word with confidence.

  • In drama, students are explicitly taught vocal skills developed by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on projection, pronunciation and speaking with confidence. All students in Year 7 take a LAMDA exam at the end of the school year. Orchard Park High employs a peripatetic LAMDA teacher and students can opt for individual lessons in verse and prose, acting and public speaking.

  • Students are taught how to use new vocabulary within their writing and are expected and encouraged to use this in their oral contributions. 

How we develop written communication

Our approach to homework has a strong emphasis on the learning of key subject vocabulary, where students quiz themselves each night from knowledge organisers, going over key vocabulary required for their subject that term, and across the year.

  • At the beginning of each lesson, this knowledge is returned to through low stakes quizzing, allowing students to continually develop and retain their use and understanding of core language and concepts.

  • Where needed, students can take part in our Direct Instruction programmes in maths and English, to provide the necessary intervention from subject experts to ensure all students can access the numeracy and literacy required for life.

  • Our school's continuing professional development has a strong focus on scholarly habits. Staff continually push students to think deeply about the core knowledge of their subjects and seek to develop their written communication of this, to support students in discovering what they know.

  • Students' vocabulary is explicitly taught in all lessons and tested in low stakes quizzes and self-quizzing homework. 

  • Years 7, 8 and 9 are taught new tier 2 vocabulary each day and tested on this at the end of the week. 

How we develop reading:

  • Our library is open at lunch times for students to read at their leisure.

  • In Year 7, each student is inducted into our reading culture by having a tour of the library and given a free book to establish the importance of reading outside of school.

  • Our tutor time reading programme means that students in Years 7 to 9 are read to for 25 minutes in the morning each day of the week. The books we choose are from an array of time periods and present a vast range of voices, allowing students to explore a great variety of narratives.

  • Students read books, tracking the line with a ruler, flat on the desk, actively engaging in the tale. 

  • Staff use visualisers to model reading strategies across the curriculum. 

  • Pupils are rewarded Character points for speaking to staff about what they are reading.

  • Assemblies regularly refer to high quality texts from across the world and different periods of time.

  • Children with low reading ages receive Direct Instruction or participate in a phonics programme. 

  • Each year, students' reading ages are tested using the NGRT, to allow staff to track students reading ability and support them where needed.