All teachers at BPS are teachers of Literacy.

We all strive to improve students’ literacy so that they can write and speak to a high standard and achieve in school and beyond.

Our literacy focus is on:

  • Improve students’ accuracy in writing through the use of COPS strategy.
  • Improve students’ reading speed and comprehension through tutor time reading activities.
  • Improve the language that students use and recognise so that they are ‘word rich’.
  • Establish a ‘love of reading’ culture.

The COPS Strategy:

Every lesson requires students to apply COPS to their completed work.

C-Capitalisation - Students must check that they have used capital letters in the correct place. We have a zero tolerance on this and teachers will identify all mistakes made.

O-Overall Appearance - Students must re-read their work  and check whether it makes sense, have they used the most powerful and expressive language they can, in addition students check that it is presented to the best of their ability.

P-Punctuation - Students must check that they have used the appropriate punctuation.

S-Spelling - Students must look at keywords and reflect on whether they are spelt correctly and whether they have used the correct word- aloud or allowed?

This is a whole school approach to improving literacy.


Reading and Comprehension in Tutor Times:

Each week students will read a variety of texts. These will a mixture of ;

  • 19th century,
  • 20th century
  • Popular culture books
  • Newspaper Articles

Students will read these and then complete a series of comprehension tasks. For more challenge students might have to generate questions that match the answer.

Teachers will check what they have read and understood and results will be recorded so that we can track progress and put in extra intervention and support for individuals and groups of students.

The aim is to give students access to a variety of texts so that they are able to more confidently access texts in exams, also to improve reading times so that students have more time to focus on answering the question rather than de-coding the question.

In addition this strategy also introduces students to a range of genres that they might go on to explore for themselves.


Improving students’ range of vocabulary:

At BPS we believe it is essential to improve students’ range of vocabulary so that they become ‘word rich’. This will give them confidence to express themselves both verbally and in written forms so that can excel and achieve within school and outside.

Each week in tutor times students will focus on improving their vocabulary by being introduced to … words that expose students to language that they might not have heard before to enable them to become word rich.

Students will be challenged to use these in their work and also re-visit these words and look for antonyms and synonyms to support it.

Furthermore students will take part in spelling tests of high frequency words which have been identified as issues across the school. These will be logged and re-visited to support students in excelling in their written work.

Moreover, teachers will identify a subject specific keyword each week that they will share with students by placing it on their doors. It will be written using everyday examples and with a definition.


Creating ‘A love of Reading’ culture:

As a way of creating a love of reading all staff are sharing what they are reading with students. This  is displayed to students on classroom doors and updated regularly. We want to generate discussions about books and show our love of reading to students. This is further supported by the role of the librarian.


Reading Dog:
Rory the Reading Dog attends school 3 days a week to support our students with their reading. Rory is present in the Library when students read as part of their English lessons. Reading Dogs in schools are becoming increasingly popular as they have been proven to help develop literacy skills and confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children and the fact that the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical.  This comforting environment helps to nurture children's enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence needed to read aloud.  The calming presence of dogs has also been proven to help reduce anxiety levels and has a positive impact of student well-being and behaviour.


Root Words:
As part of literacy in form times, Years 8, 9 and 10 look at ‘root words’. Students are taught to identify the origin of each word. Familiarity with Greek and Latin roots, as well as prefixes and suffixes, can help students understand the meaning of new words. This is at the heart of our curriculum intent, as part of our work to ensure that students have strong communication skills.

Etymology in the curriculum:
Every subject area identifies a key word each week to share with students to enhance their knowledge, understanding and strong communication skills. Students are guided through the etymology of each word to provide a larger picture of meaning. In doing so, students are additionally making links to their long term memory, as it provides another layer of the story that connects back to the word.


To support all of our work in helping students to develop a wide vocabulary and be able to express themselves confidently within the character curriculum, we ensure students become familiar with idioms. Each character lesson begins with a focus on an idiom, allowing  students to build on their knowledge and understanding, and supporting them to achieve excellence in speaking and writing.


Reading zones:
We have designated reading zones where students are encouraged to grab a beanbag and read at lunchtimes to encourage a love of reading.


Year 12 Reading Buddy Programme:
Year 12 students from Birkenhead Sixth Form College work with our Year 7 students to help close the gap between students’ reading age and their chronological age. Year 12 students work 1:1 with a Year 7 student once a week to read a book together. Students read aloud and Year 12s receive training in supporting students to break down words into syllables, to make inference, to look at etymology, and to provide praise and feedback to support reading fluency.


Accelerated Reader:
Students in Years 7-10 take part in the Accelerated Reader Programme. Students know their zpd range and participate in regular quizzes. English staff regularly monitor students’ progress to track improvements and to put strategies in place to tackle underperformance.