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Est. 1921


The Love of Words at Calderstones

Words can change lives. In the UK, the richest areas have the highest reading ages and, tragically, those who are poorest amongst us have lowest. This affects a person's access to education, work, social groups and vast parts of culture.

The statistics are staggering surrounding this. A boy growing up in one of the areas of the UK with the lowest Literacy levels will, on average, die 26.1 years earlier than a boy in one of the areas with the highest Literacy levels. For girls, the difference is 20.9 years.

Now, we're not saying that having a larger vocabulary will provide instantly reverse this; clearly there many socio-economic factors at play here regarding; but Literacy is an area that we can have some control over and it is a way to combat poverty by opening up new opportunities.

So, here at Calderstones, we understand that words really can change lives. By providing thorough vocabulary training, Reading Age assessment and chances to find the joy in words, we can help to provide a fuller, and maybe even longer, life for our students.

Statistics provided courtesy of the The National Literacy Trust's 2018 report, 'Literacy and Life Expectancy'.

Literacy Co-Ordinator

Hello, I'm Miss McMullen and I have the honour of leading Literacy here at Calderstones.

For me, words are the bedrock of all learning and having the ability to command a language as complex and varied as English is quite a feat! It's my job to facilitate our students as they navigate the highs and lows of vocabulary development, reading, writing and oracy.

Sometimes, that involves recommending really challenging books to a Year 7 pupil who just consumes all literature. Sometimes, it involves sitting with a Year 11 student who struggles with verbal fluency when reading, or spelling, or whose confidence needs a boost. Sometimes, it's analysing data, checking progress, or researching initiatives into developmental linguistics or sociolinguistics. Mostly though, I get to share my love of words with young people while constantly looking for new ways to give them access to a beautiful, and difficult, language.

New 2020 Vocabulary Map

Coming November 2020!

Whole School Literacy at Calderstones

Our Word of Week will be replaced in November by a holistic, varied and exciting new approach to Vocabulary.

Literacy Assessment at Calderstones

At Calderstones, we use Literacy Assessment Online to accurately track a student's Reading Age and Spelling Age.

  • This involves two tests, one in which they hear a word, which they then type, and the other, in which they choose the appropriate word to complete a sentence.
  • For students with additional barriers to development, such as those for whom English is a Second Language, for our SEN students and for those who are taking a little longer to acquire words, we may also decide to test phonics.
  • Phonics testing is particularly good at identifying student who experienced 'glue ear' as a toddler, which can cause children to miss important stages in language development and often leads to a misdiagnosis of dyslexia at a later stage. 
  • Year 7 students are assessed three times a year.
  • Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 students are assessed once a year.
  • Students with lower than expected Reading Ages are tested more frequently to track the impact of intervention.

Due to limited access to computer facilities and the risks involved in sharing headphones, Reading Age and Spelling Age assessment has been suspended for the Autumn term.

Literacy Support at Calderstones

At Calderstones, we take a multifaceted approach to developing Literacy. Combining the engagement of World Book Day events, Reading Leaders Bake Sales and Literacy & Numeracy Day activities, we also provide a variety of ways to tackle delayed Literacy Development and challenge those who are making progress.

  • Year 7 SEN students who require assistance with their Literacy receive one-on-one TA Intervention sessions.
  • All Year 7 students spend on English lesson a week working on SPAG and written Literacy.
  • One registration period a week is dedicated to Literacy Development.
  • All students have access to the Recommended Reading for their Age Group.
  • Whole School Literacy focuses on a student's development through our Vocabulary Map to ensure that both the foundations of, and higher tier, language is developed.
  • Literacy and EAL Co-Ordinators work closely to ensure that students whose first language is not English can have access to their own, bespoke development programme (See EAL and Literacy).

Reading Leaders at Calderstones

What would Literacy be without our wonderful Reading Leaders? We may not be able to meet during COVID but it's only a matter of time before we get back to normal and enjoy our wonderful Literacy activities again. Here are a few of the antics we got up to last year, before Corona shut us down!

  • Scholastic Book Fair - Of course, our favourite time! Selling books and stationary, logging our accounts, advertising - our Leaders always get to develop many life skills at the Fair. It's also a great time for recruitment and we tend to end up with lots of members.
  • Bake Sales - the highlight of which had to be our Valentines Bake Sale. Literature Themed quotes on cakes, an anonymous delivery service and dedicated baked goods for those who want to express friendship or self confidence, not just romance! 
  • Year of Reading Launch - Our fabulous ambassadors joined myself and Mr Ratcliffe to hear Mayor Joe Anderson introduce some amazing speakers to discuss 2020's Reading focus.
  • World Book Day - my favourite day of the year! Dressing up and book themed lessons!

What's next for Reading Leaders? When we get back to normal, we plan to - 

  • Fundraise! (See KS3 and KS4 Library)
  • Paired reading with primary school and nursery students
  • Reading with the elderly
  • Book clubs

KS3 and KS4 Library Campaign

Earlier in 2020, we announced that we were raising funds for a brand new library. Unfortunately, due to COVID regulations, this is having to be put on hold, but don't worry, all previous book donations are being kept in storage. We're using this time to plan an even better campaign!

All suggestions are welcome, just get in touch with Miss McMullen.

EAL and Literacy

In conjunction with 2020's vocabulary overhaul, we will be trialling a cohort of EAL students for intensive, personalised Literacy development. When this creates the impact that I hope it will, this will be developed into a fully differentiated course that we can provide for students who are being introduced to English at KS3 and KS4,


Calderstones Carnegie Long List Texts 2020

Calderstones Literacy KS3 Suggested Reading 2020-2021

Calderstones Literacy KS4 Suggested Reading 2020-2021

Calderstones Literacy KS5 Suggested Reading 2020-2021