At Heckmondwike Grammar School, within our aim of providing an excellent all-round education for our students, literacy is an inherent aspect of every part of our students’ school journey. Therefore, fostering and cultivating a culture of literacy school-wide, and, more specifically, across subject disciplines, is our shared objective to drive academic achievement and personal success.  

Since our core values are Respect, Responsibility and Excellence, the intent of our Literacy Curriculum at HGS embodies these elements to ensure that all students have equity in their literacy learning, providing all students with opportunities to develop literacy skills and aspirations. Not only do we seek opportunities to provide structured and consistent experiences of literacy development in the classroom, but our extra-curricular offer, and events across the year, promote a love of all things literacy based.  

 Strands of Literacy and Implementation at Heckmondwike Grammar School 

  What does this strand entail?  What does this look like at HGS? 
Reading – Development  Reading is a fundamental to education (Department for Education, 2022) and is a cornerstone of literacy development therefore it must be intricately shaped through the understanding of vocabulary, word recognition, sentence structures and rules in order to build fluency and confidence in reading.  

At Heckmondwike Grammar School we take a range of steps to support the development of standard reading skills, as well as promoting wider pleasurable and academic reading in all disciplines. 


  • Test the reading age of every student at least once a year to identify those who may need further support to develop their literacy.  
  • Then, provide a tailored intervention programme using Lexia PowerUp®. 
  • Cultivate and introduce reading behaviours through our carefully planned curriculum, particularly with encouraging wider reading. 
  • Provide reading lists for wider reading suggestions, so that students can develop into proficient and confident readers both in their disciplines and more widely.  
  • Host fortnightly library lessons for students in KS3 providing an opportunity to visit, and lend from, the library.  
Reading – For Pleasure  The end goal is not only that students are able to read more assuredly, but that they have a desire to read for pleasure and a drive to further develop their knowledge and hone their reading skill. 

Reading for pleasure is a large part of the student community at Heckmondwike Grammar School with The Library acting as a central hub for the fostering of a love of reading.  

  • Run initiatives and competitions to engage students in reading for pleasure, such as The Library Lends and Reviews programme, as well as providing reading awards for those with the most library lends each term. 
  • Spend a week promoting World Book Day, including providing book tokens for students to purchase their own copies, fancy dress competitions, book murder mystery events and fireside reading in the hall.  
Vocabulary  Research consistently finds that the extent of a child’s vocabulary knowledge relates strongly to their overall academic success (Cambridge University Press, 2019). Thus, at Heckmondwike Grammar School we are constantly seeking ways to introduce, develop, reconsider and utilise vocabulary more effectively in all areas of the curriculum.  
  • Introduced the ‘Word of the Week’ programme to develop vocabulary choices that are deemed to be expected for each year group.  
  • Build curriculum opportunities to introduce, develop, discuss and utilise Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary within our learning, spotlighting their significance in the knowledge we teach and develop this as Disciplinary Literacy (EEF, 2023) 
  • Provide opportunities to discuss the meanings of inter-disciplinary vocabulary to allow for homographic understanding of terms.  
Writing  Writing is a cognitively demanding process which relies on a person’s ability to manage a range of skills simultaneously. This includes: transcriptional elements such as handwriting, spelling and typing; compositional elements such as developing knowledge of writing rules; and executive function skills such as planning and managing the construction of writing.  

At Heckmondwike Grammar School we pride ourselves on providing students with the correct tools to be able to effectively construct a piece of written work, across disciplines. Having subject specialists across the school allows a breadth of knowledge to be passed on to our students and to encourage writing success.  

  • Regularly model – whether live or pre-produced – to ensure students are aware of effective examples of the end product of their writing.  
  • Share examiners reports and mark schemes with students to allow them to understand the requirements in the production of written responses. 
  • Encourage the planning process, not just the final product, to ensure that students build resilience in their writing ability.  
  • Work closely with the SEND department to ensure that any barriers to learning and development with writing are quickly addressed and writing remains accessible for all.  
  • Make use of reading age testing data on ClassCharts to ensure all staff are aware of students who may find the writing process (as well as other literacy areas) more difficult than others.  
Oracy  Developing a child’s capacity to use speech to express their thoughts and communicate with others (Alexander, 2012) is absolutely essential within education.  

Oracy is not something that is innate or natural and therefore students must be provided with a toolkit of talking skills in the same way that their writing and reading skills are developed (Voice 21,  

At Heckmondwike Grammar School, we are currently in the process of developing our oracy strategy, supporting our students to be the individual that stands out from the crowd in their speaking and presentational delivery.  

  • Introduced the SHAPE programme to develop the quality of responses within the classroom environment. 
  • Create opportunities for students to deliver assemblies across the year, displaying not only their oracy skills but also presentation abilities.   
  • Create expectations of talk within the classroom; we provide opportunities to debate, discuss and argue ideas and hypotheses; we probe and provoke further development of ideas and answers; we collaboratively (and verbally) essay plan to draft and edit thoughts before setting in stone.  

World Book Day 

In the past two years, World Book Day has become a flagship event for Heckmondwike Grammar School in supporting the development of literacy and the love of reading. Previously, we have hosted a wide range of events throughout World Book Day week that inspire and encourage the reading of books of all kinds in order to foster our students’ love of reading for pleasure. 

Some events we have hosted are as follows: 

  • Jackanory-style fireside reads events where students volunteer to read a section of their favourite book under a (computer generated and highly controlled) roaring fire. 
  • Author visits – 2024 saw HGS alumni Nikki Young deliver talks and workshops for KS3 students to discuss her inspiration for becoming and author, as well as processes for producing her own works.  
  • A whole-school fancy dress catwalk House competition where students dress as a book character for the day and parade their outfits for the judges. Houldsworth are our current House champions for the number of entries – who will it be next year?  
  • A whole-school murder mystery-style book hunt named ‘The Case of the Stolen Book’ where students have to figure out which of a possible 15 books has been stolen from Mr Roberts. 

 Lexia® PowerUp Literacy®

As alluded to earlier, students who are identified, through the use of a standardised reading test, as having a reading age significantly below their real age are entered into an intervention programme supported by a provider called Lexia®.  

 Lexia® PowerUp Literacy® is a computer-based programme that tailors intervention to the needs of individuals based around three key areas: word study, grammar and comprehension. The programme provides students with their own log in and, following an initial placement assessment, places them in the system according to their current literacy ability. Once in the system, students gain access to an exclusive range of activities and resources that are outside of the teaching curriculum offered in school. Students are expected to complete tasks associated with their placement in both scheduled form-time sessions as well as independently, so that staff members can monitor their progress and provide support where they may need it.  


Lexia PowerUp Log in

Home use outline – PowerUp Home Use Letter

The Library and its Resources


The Library at Heckmondwike Grammar School not only has physical copies of more than 20,000 books, but also provides access to a vast number of online resources and libraries for our students to make use of.

My Cirqa

This includes My Cirqa which connects students to their library account so that they can search for books, see what they have borrowed and reserve future lends.

The online resources system offers a whole host of systems for students’ perusal including magazine, photograph and newspaper archives, journals, ebook platforms.


Students can visit the library to speak with Mrs Whitelaw, Mrs Bourne or Mrs Firth who would be more than happy to support with the finding of the perfect read, or supplementary academic source.

How to support reading at home? 

7 Top Tips to Support Reading at Home

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KS3 Recommended Reading List

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