At De Lisle we are committed to supporting our students in developing excellent standards of literacy. Through a range of initiatives across the curriculum, we focus on developing key skills related to reading, listening, speaking and writing. We aim to ensure students develop literacy skills that will enable them to negotiate the demands of their future personal and professional lives.

The Writing Revolution

At De Lisle, we have adopted ‘The Writing Revolution’ as our whole school approach to teaching writing; this is a research-based strategy developed by Judith Hochman.

The Writing Revolution’s method rests on six basic principles:

  1. Students need explicit instruction in writing
  2. Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.
  3. When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.
  4. The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.
  5. Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.
  6. The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.

Our approach involves using regular, intentional exercises to expand syntactic range, thus enabling students to capture and express complex thoughts in writing. Importantly, these skills and activities must be embedded in content, therefore must be delivered in a content-rich environment. We understand that students cannot write well about something they don’t know well, so The Writing Revolution is embedded throughout our school curriculum. Students are not taught writing in isolation; our staff are trained in these writing strategies and use them in their lessons to teach their subject content, whilst supporting writing and literacy development. As a result, our students are familiar with using the same writing strategies across a range of subjects and writing becomes a tool for teaching rather than a literacy barrier.

Tutor Time Reading

Students in years 7-10 participate in our school reading programme. Each year group is timetabled to spend three afternoon registration periods across the fortnight engaging in reading with their tutor group. In this time, the tutor group will read together, with their form tutor facilitating, providing appropriate opportunities for students to make predications, ask and answer questions and clarify key vocabulary.

Our reading programme exposes our students to a range of important themes and genres, while continuing to develop their reading skills. Tutor time reading provides a calm and purposeful end to the day and we hope that our students find something they enjoy reading along the way!

Please ask your child about what they are reading at school. The books for tutor time reading are as follows:

Year 7:

  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl

People with peculiar and unlikely powers can be found throughout this extraordinary collection of seven short stories. A rich man who learns to see without his eyes, a giant turtle and a very special boy who can talk to animals, a cunning hitch-hiker and the curious driver who picks him up, and the very lucky ploughman who finds a fabulous fortune but loses a golden opportunity are only a few of the characters you’ll meet. The collection is a clever mix of fact and fiction and also includes the story of how Roald Dahl became a writer (and a wealth of tips for aspiring authors).


  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Year 8:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Seen through the eyes of Christopher, a mathematical genius and Sherlock Holmes fan, who also has Asperger’s syndrome, this bestselling novel opens with the discovery of a murdered dog on the neighbour’s lawn.

In his search to discover the identity of the killer, Christopher uncovers some disturbing information about his own family, which throws his ordered world into chaos, and he embarks on a journey to London to find the mother he thought was dead.

This funny, touching and compelling novel was the winner of the inaugural Booktrust Teenage Prize. A must-read for adults and children alike, it is an adventure story unlike any other.


  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

A classic ghost story: the chilling tale of a menacing spectre haunting a small English town. Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford–a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway–to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images–a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black.

Year 9:

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.

As a novella, Of Mice and Men is a text that preaches the dangers of believing in dreams, specifically in the American Dream, while teaching us the value of friendship and companionship. The title is our first indication of the theme of the novella, taken from Robert Burns’ poem Ode To A Mouse.


  • Anita and Me by Meera Syal

The author of ‘Anita and Me’ is an English comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress named Meera Syal. The novel is semi-autobiographical, based on Syal’s experiences growing up.

Anita and Me tells the story of Meena, the daughter of the only Punjabi family in the British village of Tollington. The novel follows nine-year-old Meena through a year spiced with pilfered sweets and money, bad words, and compulsive, yet inventive, lies. Anita and Me offers a fresh, sassy look at a childhood caught between two cultures.

Year 10:

  • Regeneration by Pat Barker

Pat Barker penned Regeneration in 1991. The novel depicts the effects of World War I on the British officers and soldiers who are recovering at the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland. Set in 1917 and 1918, in the final years of the brutal conflict, Regeneration focuses on several patients’ trauma, memories, and recovery. This novel represents a significant departure for Barker, whose early work focused primarily on the lives of working-class women in the Northern England. Yet Regeneration still features many of the same themes that are present in Barker’s first novels, like shifting gender roles, class tension, and the effects of violence on the psyche. Widely acclaimed, Regeneration forms the first part of Barker’s World War I trilogy; The Eye in the Door (1993) and The Ghost Road (1995) complete the series.


Students at De Lisle are taught a vocabulary rich curriculum and staff are trained in how to teach and test vocabulary effectively. Alongside their tutor time reading, students have vocabulary knowledge organisers which they can use to expand and revise vocabulary. Each word on their knowledge organiser will occur in their tutor time reading book and be applicable to at least one other subject that they study. Students in years 7-10 sit a multiple-choice vocabulary quiz at the end of the Advent and Pentecost terms to help track their progress.

Reading Challenges

Students can take part in our Reading Challenges which are run by the librarian in the college library. There are three awards to be won by reading and reviewing books.

The Bronze Reading Award – can be achieved by reading 8 books and filling in the bronze review form. Students who achieve this award receive a certificate, a bronze owl badge, and a house point.

The Silver Reading Award – can be achieved by reading 8 books and filling in the silver review form. Students who achieve this award will receive a certificate, a silver owl badge, and a house point.

The Gold Reading Award – can be achieved by reading 10 books, including 1 classic, and filling in the gold review form. Students who achieve this award will receive a certificate, a gold owl badge, and a house point.

Please call into the library for further information, reading lists/suggestions.

Miss B Taylor

Literacy Coordinator