Literacy in our Curriculum

Literacy is essential to all learning throughout the school, in all years and across all subject areas. At Ormiston Rivers Academy, we know that good literacy skills help students to communicate effectively and allow students to achieve their potential across the curriculum. Because literacy is integral to our students’ success, we aim to ensure all learners at our school emerge as confident and articulate communicators.

Reading for pleasure

A significant amount of research from around the world suggests that reading for pleasure can raise literacy standards and help support student progress. As a school, we take every opportunity to promote reading for pleasure. This includes:


  • ‘Register and Read’ during mentor time
    Every week, we use one of the mentor sessions for Reciprocal Reading: a research-based comprehension technique that has enjoyed over 30 years of success in dramatically improving reading comprehension.

  • Weekly Reading programme
    Every week we provide students with a topic for each day: Monday explores biographical writing; Tuesday focuses on travel writing; Wednesday focuses on the weird and wonderful; Thursday is set aside for enjoying a work of fiction and on Friday we respond with a summary of the fictional text.

Here is an example of our weekly programme.

  • Library lessons
    Students in year 7-8 have lessons in the library every 2 weeks. This time is dedicated to reading, choosing new books, completing Accelerated Reader Quizzes (see below) and discussing books.

  • ‘Drop Everything and Read’
    Students in year 7-8 have 20 minutes of dedicated reading time every day.

  • Celebrating days such as World Book Day and National Poetry Day
    This year, world book day was celebrated with a number of activities including: staff and students dressing up as their favourite characters; online author/illustrator presentations delivered in the library; quizzes and competitions and book-related games during Mentor time.

  • Author visits
    This year, Year 7-8 enjoyed a visit from Tony Lee: author of many comics, novels and plays including storylines for Dr Who, Star Trek and more. Tony delivered a very engaging talk, aimed at helping reluctant readers and ran writers’ workshops.

  • Accelerated Reader and myON
    Every student in Years 7 & 8 is enrolled in the Accelerated Reader programme, designed to boost both engagement and achievement in reading and comprehension. Our students' experience of the Accelerated Reader Programme is further enhanced by the addition of myON - an online collection of 1000s of books that can be searched using criteria linked to Accelerated Reader and  followed up with AR quizzes straight from within the app.
    You can find out more information about this fantastic program by clicking here. 

  • Book club
    To encourage a lifelong love of reading, the Library also holds a weekly book club where students can share their reading experiences and explore new titles and authors. 

  • Book lists and extracts
    We regularly provide and update our lists of recommended reading to include new titles and books suggested by a variety of different focus groups. For reading inspiration, why not take a look at these recommended reads?
    We have also provided students with a large collection of extracts (many of which are recommended by the organisers of World Book Day) so that they can explore new titles and get a taste of different books and authors before choosing the whole novel.

      Here is an example of our extract book.

Learning Resource Centre (Library)

When it comes to reading, the Library is the hub of the school community. At ORA, in addition to supporting all of the activities listed above, our Library provides a welcoming space where students are free to browse our range of fiction and non-fiction texts, borrow books, and read and study in a peaceful yet engaging environment.


Our librarian is always on hand to provide helpful advice on book choices; maybe suggest something new (that you would never have dreamed of reading but is actually perfect for you) or simply support you with using our Library system (Eclipse), Accelerated Reader or myON.


Writing like a pro

11-13 year-olds at ORA are encouraged to participate in BBC Radio 2’s story writing competition, ‘500 Words’, which opens every January. The competition culminates in a broadcast extravaganza of live music and sensational story-telling every summer, at a special venue. Past venues have included The Globe and The Tower of London!


To help to broaden our students’ vocabulary, a ‘Word of the Week’ is shared with all students. Evidence of correct use of this word will mean merit points!



Reading and writing are very important and valuable skills but people are often not aware of how important speaking and listening skills are too. Schools that include speaking and listening in a planned and structured way for children in their lessons see improvement in their classroom involvement. 

  • No Pens Day
    Every year, ORA participate in ‘No Pens Day’, during which students to put down their pens and pick up speaking and listening skills

  • Debate Club
    A weekly debate club is held for students in all year groups, developing their ability to debate effectively

  • Speak Out Challenge

Selected Year 10 students take part in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge, providing students with a superb opportunity to develop vital public speaking skills and their confidence with this

  • Make Yourself Heard
    In 2020, OAT launched their own public speaking competition, Make Yourself Heard. Both of our finalists were regional winners for their group, and one student even went on to win nationally. We look forward to competing in the years to come.

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For more information on how to support your child’s reading at home, please download this document.

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Ormiston Rivers Academy
Southminster Road
Essex CM0 8QB