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On this section of the website you will be able to access a wide range of information about literacy at The Dorcan Academy.

Raising the standard of literacy within the academy is a key performance objective. Over the past two years teachers and students have sought advice and guidance from the Talk the Talk community and actioned techniques from the current experts within the Literacy field: David Didau (Secret of Literacy) and Alex Quigley (Closing the Vocabulary Gap). A comprehensive action plan now drives the Literacy curriculum delivered within the academy.

Research has shown that a student must be able to say it before they can write it and think it before they can say it. Therefore, within the academy we have focused on the development of our students’ oracy.  Three non- negotiables to oracy have been generated with the aim of improving our students’ talk, in order to improve their written responses at GCSE. 

1.  Detailed Verbal Responses

     a)  not just 'yes' and 'no'!  Ensuring answers in class are given in full sentences.

     b)  No Opt out

     c)  A clear, audible classroom voice using standard English (avoiding 'like')

During 2019-2020 the Literacy curriculum will focus on the development of our students’ understanding and spelling of academic vocabulary. Both secondary and tertiary language will be explored as they are a recognised barrier to many students’ achievement at GCSE.

During tutor time teachers will explore and assess selected secondary tier vocabulary and their spelling. Whilst in class, teachers will cover their subject specific (tertiary tier) vocabulary. Together students and teachers will investigate a word orally: its root meaning, etymology, morphology and nominalisation and then practise the correct application of the word within a sentence.

Home Learning will be centred around the use of Knowledge Organisers that contain these essential and bespoke topic vocabularies.  Students will be asked to learn the spelling and meaning at home and will be assessed in class during Do Now, a settling activity that takes place at the beginning of a lesson.

Find Fault and Fix

Students will be expected to apply the Students’ Literacy Checklist before they hand in their work for feedback. Best practice would see students applying the feedback symbols to their work, and to highlight their key area for Literacy support to the teacher.

Students will be expected to review their Literacy feedback from the teacher and correct in green pen to demonstrate that they have learnt the rule/ pattern in order that they get it right the next time.

Student Literacy Checklist 

Check your work before you hand it in. Find the Fault and Fix the errors!

                   Top 10 – Whole School Expectations:

1.  Do my sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark?

2.  Have I used capital letters for names and places? (Proper Nouns)

3.  Have I spelt everything correctly?

4.  Is my written work grammatically correct i.e. affect and effect?

5.  Have I used paragraphs?

6.  Is my work presented neatly?

7.  Have I used an appropriate style i.e. no slang or informal language?

8.  Are my quotations in inverted commas?

9.  Have I checked that my sentences make sense and their meaning is clear?

10 Have I included a semi colon in one paragraph?

The teacher/students will provide feedback on the quality of Literacy with the symbols below.



Sp Spelling
Gr Grammar
P Punctuation
// Paragraph


Drop Everything and Read was introduced into the academy last year and has had a noticeable impact on the reading comprehension of our students. For 20 minutes Monday to Thursday each tutor group are read to by their tutor, an age appropriate fiction text including some books taken from the Classic series. The aim of the DEAR program is to instil a passion for lifelong reading within our students.

Tutors read to their tutees to provide a fluency which allows the students to become immersed in the story and characters within.


Throughout the year a wide range of Literacy enrichment opportunities will continue to take place including the highly contested Key Stage 3 Spelling Bee competition, Year 7 and 8 Public Speaking competition, the Talk the Talk seminars and the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature organised and hosted by our librarian Kate Murphy.


All teachers are expected to promote literacy as an integrated part of their teaching and assessment. These resources are available for you to use at home to support your child’s development in aspects of writing.

Please click on the links below to find out more.


Commas fact sheet: Level 1

Commas fact sheet: Level 2

Presentation: How to use Commas

BBC Skillswise Words: Commas Quiz

BBC Skillswise Words: Commas Game

BBC Skillswise Words: Commas Worksheets


Sentences fact sheet: Level 1 - Six different ways to start a sentence

Sentences fact sheet: Level 2 - How to avoid repetitive sentence beginnings

Sentences fact sheet: Level 1 - Changing the way you start a sentence

Sentences fact sheet: Level 2 - Different ways of starting sentences

Sentences: If too many sentences start with the same word

Presentation: Sentence Openings


Homophones fact sheet: Level 1 - What are Homophones

Homophones activity sheet: Level 1

Homophones fact sheet: Level 2

BBC Skillswise Words: Homophones Introduction

BBC Skillswise Words: Homophones Quiz

Homophones work sheet: To, Too, Two

Homophones work sheet: You're & Your

Homophones work sheet: There, Their, They're

Presentation: Recognising the correct Homophone

Parts of Speech 1 & 2

Speech Marks fact sheet: Level 1

Speech Marks fact sheet: Level 2

Fact sheet: Direct Speech and Reported Speech

Presentation: Direct Speech Punctuation

Speech Marks: Practice

Speech Marks: Level 1 - Quiz

Presentation: Using Speech Marks