- Literacy, alongside numeracy, is at the heart of learning in schools.
- Literacy encompasses four strands of language – reading, writing, speaking and listening. This includes drama until it becomes a subject in its own right at Key Stage 4.
- There has been a long-running issue to raise the standard of literacy in schools and in particular the levels of literacy amongst boys, with 2010 figures still showing an achievement gap for boys.
- Speaking in December 2010 the Minister of State for Children and Families, Sarah Teather said that local areas should prioritise literacy as a cost-effective way to improve life chances.
- The National Framework continues to be used as the main teaching guide in the Primary stage. The framework sets out the literacy and numeracy teaching objectives for each year from Reception Year to Year 6. The teaching of synthetic phonics is being emphasised in Key Stage 1 and is set to become the basis of a national test for children in Year 2.
What can museums do?
- Museums are excellent environments for all aspects of literacy work, but teachers aren’t used to visiting solely for literacy. Contact the Literacy co-ordinator in your local school to discuss ideas and plan literacy skills and content into cross-curricular visits.
- Talk to School Improvement Advisors who will be supporting local schools who are struggling the most with literacy. They may be interested in integrating a visit into a wider literacy project with specific schools as has happened in the North East and North West (see downloads).
- Plan the literacy element of any session as carefully as the subject content.
- See how initiatives such as Talk for Writing can be adapted for use with museum objects. Developed for theNational Strategies, Talk for Writing is now supported by the National Literacy Trust.
- Join the South East network group for those interested in literacy (LitNet) to share ideas.
- Use any literary connections to support secondary schools in particular.
A museum visit can provide lots of opportunities to develop literacy skills, which could include:
- recording thoughts and impressions to form the basis for creative writing later.
- taking part in a workshop session that uses drama or gives pupils speaking opportunities.
- collecting information to write labels or panels or a guide-book for an exhibition. This will incorporate reading and writing and can be combined with work on History, Art, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Music and Drama.
- Renaissance North East publication Exploring Literacy Through Museums (PDF, 1.74MB).
- Renaissance North West MAGPIE literacy leaflet 2009 (PDF 477Kb).
- Notes and presentations from the Talk for Writing event funded by MLA’s Strategic Commissioning Education Programme in conjunction with the National Literacy Trust
- The National Literacy Trust.
- Talk for Writing 2008 publication.
- The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre works with pupils from Year 3 to Year 7 to find pleasure in reading and writing creatively.
- Literature in Context was a Strategic Commissioning funded national initiative to develop educational resources to support English Literature visits to museums.