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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Literacy


Professional responsibility to literacy


Literacy across the curriculum

The National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) is a planning tool which supports teachers to plan the development of literacy skills across the curriculum. Many of these may already exist in your current provision as a result of the implementation of the Skills framework for 3 to 19-year-olds in Wales. However, it may be helpful to review curriculum planning with support of the LNF documentation in order to ensure year group outcomes are being addressed.

The Learning Wales website offers Support tools for planning and a reading list supporting literacy across the curriculum can be found in ‘Topic 3: Creating best practice’ of this learning pack.

A walk around the curriculum

Together with using the support materials from the LNF, the following approaches may be useful in checking literacy across the curriculum.

  • Build from planning.
  • Backtrack from existing provision.
  • View from learners' perspective.

Activity 5.2

Approach 1 – Build from planning

Choose a year group and a literacy skill detailed in the LNF. Your choice may be influenced by an audit which has resulted in identifying an area for development.

Identify where this skill will be taught across the curriculum. You may like to consider these points when mapping skills provision.

  • Where are the attributes, characteristics and features of the skill being directly taught by a skilled practitioner?
  • Where are the opportunities for this skill to be consolidated and embedded?
  • Where are the opportunities for this skill to be transferred to different contexts?
  • Where are the opportunities for this skill to be developed or enhanced?

Note: It is important to differentiate between explicit opportunities for learning and teaching and more incidental exposure to literacy. In the latter, the learner may be passive and progression not guaranteed.

Activity 5.3

Approach 2 – Backtracking from existing planning

This approach can offer an audit trail of provision by considering lesson plans, schemes of work, medium-term planning and whole-school policy.

Select a sample of planning documentation and identify either a particular literacy skill or choose a more open approach and look for a range of skills. Check that these can be sourced to the LNF outcomes.

This approach may highlight a need to consider:

  • how literacy skills are highlighted on your planning documentation
  • if there is consistency in expectation, language and terminology
  • if there is a fair and appropriate distribution of skills among Areas of Learning and/or subjects
  • if whole-school policies and documentation needs to be adjusted.

Activity 5.4

Approach 3 – The learners’ perspective

This approach looks more at whether the literacy skills detailed on the planning documentation are being realised in the learners' experience.

You may like to consider these methods of monitoring for this approach.

  • Focus groups of learners.
  • Book sampling.
  • Learning walks.

The information gathered from these approaches is a measure of the effectiveness of your provision but can be more subjective. A range of samples will help to identify patterns and trends and to mitigate the subjective nature of more detailed sampling.

Let's look more closely at the bullet points outlined above.

Focus group of learners

The goal of a focus group is to let learners generate discussion around a particular topic. Sometimes a totally different understanding of a problem emerges from a group discussion. Hence, the role of the leader or facilitator is to help the flow of discussion between the group members rather than ask direct questions to individuals. Focus groups are commonly used to:

  • evaluate a certain aspect of provision
  • get feedback from a newly introduced initiative
  • investigate issues that have arisen through other methods (audit, observation or SWOT analysis).

Manchester University provides this further information about focus groups (external link).

Book trawls

The scrutiny of books and learners' work is a standard element of inspection. In the guidance for literacy inspection, Estyn identify Years 2, 6 and 9 as being likely year groups for book scrutiny and list the relevant pro-formas in the guidance document. These are documents E, F, G for primary practice and evidence form R1 for secondary practice. It is recommended as being good practice to use these pro-formas when undertaking internal reviews of provision.

When looking at a learner's work it can be useful to look for evidence which relates to different stages of learning a literacy skill. For example:

  • Is the skill being revised (previous knowledge)?
  • Is the skill being directly taught (new knowledge)?
  • Is the skill being practised (embedding knowledge)?
  • Is the skill being applied (transferred to different contexts)?
  • Is the skill being refined or enhanced (deepening knowledge)?

This is one way of measuring progression and it is possible, through the process of a book trawl, to check that learners are having the opportunity to move forward.

Learning walks

Learning walks are an increasingly common way of contributing to the systems of tracking and monitoring. A PowerPoint introducing the concept of learning walks and a useful document entitled ‘Learning walks: Ensuring the engagement of all learners in our schools’ can be found here.

There is a need to be selective when deciding on the area of literacy to be observed during the learning walk. Not all aspects of literacy can be monitored in this way.

Activity 5.5

Look at the literacy skill (taken from the LNF) and decide which way of monitoring provision across the curriculum would be the best.

FG = Focus group | BT = Book trawl | LW = Learning walk

Focus group/Book trawl/Learning walks
locate information on web pages using screen features, e.g. toolbars, side bars, headings, arrows 
identify how punctuation relates to sentence structure and how meaning is constructed in complex sentences 
use a range of strategies, e.g. speed reading, close reading, annotation, prediction, to skim texts for gist, key ideas and themes, and scan for detailed information 
use summary, discussion of issues, detailed explanations as appropriate to purpose 
respond to others' views positively and appropriately when challenged 

View an example of the completed grid.

Best practice in literacy across the curriculum

View a case study on best practice literacy across the curriculum (external link) here.


In this sub-topic you have considered the provision of literacy across the curriculum. This has included using the support materials from the LNF and a consideration of using different ways of monitoring provision. Some of these tools (focused groups, interviews and sampling) relate to educational research which is explored in ‘Topic 7: Lead on change’.

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