Literacy & Numeracy




At Darwen Vale, we believe in the importance of developing students’ reading, writing and communication skills through high expectations and regular daily practice. We have a whole school focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) and every teacher takes responsibility for literacy in their subject area. A consistent approach, time and the repetition of these key skills have a powerful effect on student progress. We provide opportunities for students to read within the school week and we encourage parents to support this at home.


In Year 7 and Year 8 all of our students take on the English mastery programme to help support the development of their literacy skills and a whole school ‘word of the week’ is used in an attempt to develop the richness of our students’ vocabulary.


All of our staff have received training on Alex Quigley’s ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ and this is then transferred into our teacher’s daily practice as we attempt to create a language rich community.


We also ensure that nobody who joins Darwen Vale and has a reading age lower than their chronological age gets left behind. Using IDL as our starting point, we specifically target all of our students who have the lowest reading ages in the school. In addition to this, we provide a range of other interventions including small group teaching for our students needing additional literacy support, an exciting form time programme titled ‘Literacy Legends’ and the support of our English Academic Mentor who specifically works with students in English who are falling short of reaching their target grade.


The school community as a whole supports us in our expectations that students speak in Standard English, expressing themselves in full statements wherever possible. By working together as a learning community to build students’ literacy skills, we believe that students will have the necessary skills to be successful with their education at Darwen Vale and beyond.

For more information on any aspect of Literacy at Darwen Vale or the small group interventions, please contact:





At Darwen Vale, we believe that to be truly functional, our students need to be highly numerate.


Since January 2019, numeracy has been high on the school agenda, all tutor groups complete an activity called Numeracy Ninjas every week as part of their form group timetable. Numeracy Ninjas is a numeracy intervention designed to fill gaps in students’ basic mental calculation strategies and also to empower them with the numeracy skills and fluency required to fully access GCSE Maths concepts.


For students requiring additional numeracy support, we also provide a range of interventions including small group teaching and focused weekly intervention with our Mathematics tutor.


Our current year 7’s and 8’s follow a Mastery scheme of work in their Maths. This scheme offers all students access to the full mathematics curriculum and allows all students to study the same topics and move through each step at the same pace. This inclusive approach and its emphasis on promoting multiple methods of solving a problem, aims to build self-confidence and resilience in all students and allows the development of mathematical fluency without resorting to rote learning. Students will be able to solve non-routine mathematical problems without having to memorise procedures!


The ethos and rationale behind the Mastery scheme is as follows:


1) Success for all - Every child can enjoy and succeed in mathematics as long as they are given the appropriate learning opportunities. A growth mindset enables pupils to develop resilience and confidence.


2) Problem-solving - Enabling learners to solve new problems in unfamiliar contexts is the ultimate aim. Identifying, applying and connecting ideas enables pupils to tackle new and more complex problems.


3) Mathematical language- Mathematical language strengthens conceptual understanding by enabling pupils to explain and reason. This must be carefully introduced and reinforced through frequent discussion to ensure it is meaningfully understood.


4) Deeper understanding- Pupils must be given time and opportunities to fully explore mathematical concepts. The challenge comes from investigating ideas in new and complex ways – rather than accelerating through new topics.


5) Multiple representations-Objects, pictures, numbers and symbols enable pupils to represent ideas and make connections in different ways. This develops understanding and problem solving skills – while making lessons engaging and fun.

Though the whole class goes through the same content at the same pace, there is still plenty of opportunity for differentiation - those students who grasp concepts quickly are challenged with more sophisticated problems that require more depth of understanding within the topic rather than just extra or “extension” work.


The positive impact of the mastery scheme of work is already clear as students are becoming more engaged in debates during the “talk tasks” with clear attempts to use Mastery language. This in turn has allowed more and more students to develop resilience when attempting and dealing with new key concepts and solving problems.


For students requiring additional numeracy support, we also provide a range of interventions including small group teaching. Something new which is happening this year is an extra timetabled numeracy lesson for any child that comes to Darwen Vale with a scaled score that is below the expected standard.


Each lesson the children will work on the skills that they hadn’t been able to master at primary school with the aim of getting each child up to the expected standard.


For more information on any aspect of Numeracy at Darwen Vale or the small group interventions, please contact:

Gemma Holden

Assistant Principal for Maths

Rikyha Heaslewood

2nd in Maths



Catch-Up Premium 2018 – 2019

The Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium is additional funding given to schools to support year 7 students who did not achieve at least the ‘expected standard’ in reading or Maths at the end of key stage 2 (KS2).

During the academic year 2017-2018 we received £11,118. The funding received for 2018-2019 is £14,493.


During the academic year 2017-2018 Darwen Vale High School used the premium for:

  • Staffing to allow for smaller sets for lower ability students in English and maths.

  • Additional literacy and reading provision including the IDL (Indirect Dyslexia Learning) programme and tutor reading.


In 2018 – 2019 we plan to use the funding in the following ways:

  • Foundation group in Year 7 and Year 8 – Introduce timetabled numeracy and literacy intervention sessions for all students in the foundation groups and Numeracy Ninjas in tutor time.

  • Intervention groups – focusing on improving areas of need such as SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs), memory and numeracy.

  • HLTA reading support through the IDL programme – Additional reading support sessions timetabled weekly to complete the IDL programme.