Literacy Across Learning

Welcome to the Literacy page for Portobello High School. Here you can find information about literacy initiatives we have at Portobello High School, plus resources, news and updates from the school.




Within Curriculum for Excellence, literacy is defined as:


the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts, which society values and finds useful. ”


(Principles and practice: Literacy across learning, 2009).


In simple terms this means that all of our students should be able to:

  • communicate effectively using their talking and listening skills
  • communicate effectively in writing
  • Read, but not only for information: they also need to be able to work out if and when people are aiming to persuade or influence them.


Literacy across learning – what is this?


In Curriculum for Excellence Literacy across learning is one of the three areas which are now seen as the responsibility of all staff. Literacy experiences and outcomes are used in all subjects to help promote the development of Listening and Talking, Reading and Writing. Across these subjects, pupils are provided with opportunities to develop their skills within the three elements of the literacy framework:


Listening and talking for learning

  • engage with others in group and class discussions
  • learn collaboratively
  • explain their thinking to others
  • explore factors which influence them and persuade them in order to help them think about the reliability of information


Reading for learning

  • find, select, sort, summarise and link information from a variety of sources
  • consider the purpose and main concerns in texts, and understand the differences between fact and opinion
  • discuss similarities and differences between texts


Writing for learning

  • make notes, develop ideas and acknowledge sources in written work
  • develop and use effective vocabulary
  • create texts – for example, presentations – which allow learners to persuade/argue/explore ideas


Literacy across learning – the principles


Literacy is important in all areas of learning, as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for our students in all aspects of life and work. It also contributes strongly to the development of all four capacities of CfE, making our students: Independent Learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors.


Having skills and confidence in literacy is essential for progress in all areas of the curriculum. Because of this, all teachers have a responsibility for literacy development. Young people should be supported and encouraged to explain their thinking, debate their ideas and read and write at a level which will help them to develop their language skills further.


Literacy in Portobello High School


The school has two literacy coordinators in place to oversee what is happening across faculties. The coordinators are Ms Kirkwood and Mr Reid, both teachers in the English department.


Portobello High School has an excellent and dedicated working group who meet regularly to share responsibility on developing, implementing, maintaining, and evaluating Literacy initiatives for the school.


There are many literacy based initiatives happening in school at the moment:

  • Pupil reading groups
  • A whole school correction code
  • S1 Scots IDL Project
  • S1 Book Club
  • VCOP
  • Literacy Mats
  • S1 Literacy Library Project
  • SRA Corrective Reading Program
  • S2 History Research Project
  • EAL Lunchtime Social Group – “The Social Network”
  • S3/S3 “Religious Beliefs and Values” Unit


Portobello High School Literacy Blog


For further information about Literacy in Portobello High School, as well as regular updates, please visit our blog:





Literacy Mats

Literacy Mats have now been launched in PHS, and can be found in a wide range of classrooms across departments in the school. These A3 sheets can give advice on numerous skills, such as report writing, working in groups, and tackling exam questions. They’re also available to download below:


Effective Discussion

Poster Designs

Report Writing

Understanding Exam Questions

Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation

Writing a Bibliography

Writing a News Report

Writing Letters


(Many thanks to our colleagues in Beeslack Community High School for the development of some of these materials)