What does "Literacy" actually mean!?

Literacy. A term that is often used in Education and one that we all know is vitally important to maximising young peoples life chances. Twitter and Educational blogs are full of information about Literacy. One such post that resonated with me is David Didau’s (@learningSpy) post on the Matthew Effect.

But what does “literacy” actually mean? Can you define literacy in the education context? What does an effective literacy strategy look like?

These questions were asked at our SLT meetings at the start of our “literacy” journey. Geoff Barton (@RealGeoffBarton) has written a book called Don’t call it Literacy!, which incidentally, was something that our Principal wanted to do (or not).

Our “literacy” strategy is one of numerous policies and strategies that have been implemented at BCA since becoming a sponsored academy in September 2012, each being linked to one or more of Teaching and Learning, Behaviour and Safety, Achievement and Leadership & Management.

Here is an advert for a new post at BCA, which communicates our journey and the result of some exciting and innovative work.

The advert is due to go live in the coming days.

Here it is…

Leader of Language for Learning for Life
At Bath Community Academy we define Literacy as, ‘The ability to communicate in different forums through a variety of methods:  listening, speaking, reading, writing’ where developing these skills in all young people is a responsibility that falls to every adult.
The Language for Learning strategy was developed in 2014 and has now become embedded in all aspects of classroom behaviour through an extensive period of CPD led by a skilled local educational consultant in partnership with the aims of the Principal and the support of the Cabot Learning Federation Literacy Research Team.
It is now time to take this strategy to the next phase: Language for Learning for Life.  We need a passionate and enthusiastic leader who can take everything that is currently working to a deeper, more embedded, level so that all students from all abilities and backgrounds are immersed in activities which will intentionally develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills both within and beyond lessons.
We need a leader who will embody the academy values and ethos and we would encourage prospective applicants to read the website carefully, requesting a visit to the academy if desired, prior to applying as this academy needs to be cherished by any who wish to work with our students.
Current strategies as part of our Language for Learning strategy that are working:
  • Reading Buddy: volunteer members of staff (mainly non-classroom facing support staff) who listen to students read on a daily basis.
  • Accelerated Reader: this was implemented at the academy 18 months ago and has become a vital element of the improvement journey.  Whilst it is not necessary for applicants to have worked with the Accelerated Reader scheme, it is important to understand that this feature must be retained and further developed.
  • LEAP:  All lessons at BCA follow the LEAP framework, where L represents Language for Learning, with all teachers understanding that they are expected to develop the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills of students as part of their responsibility (E = Engagement, A = Assessment, P = Progress)
  • Reading / Literacy lessons:  these are on the timetables of all KS3 students with some taking place in the area currently known as the Library
  • Public Speaking:  this is an area that we are working hard to develop at the academy with written and spoken performances playing an increasing role in academy life.
  • Modelling of effective SPAG through ‘feedback stickers’ used as the main form of written feedback and reporting to students
At BCA students come from the full range of socio-economic context.  The differing impact upon the students and their interaction with words is depicted clearly below.
The Leader of Language for Learning for Life at BCA will have the opportunity to:
  • Transform the room currently known as the Library into a new space with a new name which will be the hub of all L4L4L activities, radiating practice into all curriculum areas and academy life.
  • We envisage zones within the L4L4L space (we don’t have a name for it yet, we just know we are not planning to call it a Library!) for students to develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing and we need an imaginative persons who can inject personality and zest into each area so that students catch their passion and develop their own love of each pursuit.
  • We desire multiple opportunities for students to engage in public events to compete within each discipline (spelling bees, speaking competitions, poetry performances, etc within and beyond the academy)
  • We are excited about all aspects of language and literature becoming a feature of this emerging academy, led by a magnetic individual who will be committed to raising standards of ‘literacy’ across the academy.
  • We require commitment to the aims of the academy and expect teamwork from all staff.  The Leader of Language for Learning for Life will work closely, but not exclusively, with the Leader of English to ensure practices are consistent and appropriate to the curriculum and to develop ‘literacy’ lessons where appropriate.
Qualification Criteria
·         Qualified to degree level and above
·         Qualified to teach (and work) in the UK
·         Qualified and skilled to teach English at KS3&4
·         Up to date knowledge of effective literacy practice
·         Understanding of the strategies needed to establish consistently high aspirations and standards of results and behaviour.
·         Passion
·         High expectations
·         A firm and constant belief in the unlimited potential of every student and a commitment to inclusive educational provision
·         Motivation to continually improve standards and achieve excellence
·         Commitment to the safeguarding and welfare of all students and providing equality of opportunity
·         The ability to enthuse and inspire others
·         Effective and systematic behaviour management, with clear boundaries, sanctions, praise and recognition within academy systems
·         Excellent communication, planning and organisational skills
·         Demonstrates resilience, motivation, optimism and commitment to driving up standards of achievement
·         Acts as a role model to staff and students
·         The ability to develop positive relations with students and adults
·         The ability to work effectively alone and as a part of a team
·         The ability to take personal responsibility, a readiness to reflect and self-evaluate, and the ability to change, develop and improve
·         Confidence and self-motivation
·         The ability to work well under pressure
·         High levels of honesty and integrity


The successful candidate will be remunerated at main scale M1-6 as a full-time position.  For the right candidate a part-time role will be considered at a pro-rated salary at a higher level where appropriate, although there would be a need for the Leader of Language for Learning for Life to be a daily presence at the academy.  Candidates should initiate discussions around such variations at an appropriate stage in the application / selection process.

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