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 focused on the development of our students’ understanding and spelling of academic vocabulary. Both secondary and tertiary language was explored and is now an integral part of our curriculum, as it is a recognised barrier to many students’ achievement at GCSE.

During tutor time teachers explore and assess selected secondary tier vocabulary and their spelling. In class, teachers introduce and explain their subject specific (tertiary tier) vocabulary. Together students and teachers 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 is centred around the use of Knowledge Organisers that contain these essential and bespoke topic vocabularies.  Students are asked to learn spellings and their meanings at home and are assessed in class during Do Now, a settling activity that takes place at the beginning of a lesson.

Find Fault and Fix

Students are 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 are 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.



Drop Everything and Read was introduced into the academy in 2019 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 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.




Parts of Speech 1 & 2

Literacy Video – How to help you support your child

Below is the link to the first in our Literacy Building Blocks series, Miss Keller (our Literacy Lead) discusses all-important reading skills and how you can help your child to build a positive reading routine.

The Dorcan Academy
St. Paul’s Drive
Covingham, Swindon
Wiltshire SN3 5DA
Switchboard: 01793 525231
Fax: 01793 431461
The Dorcan Academy is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales under company number 07831414. The registered office is St. Paul’s Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN3 5DA.