This week has seen the launch of a new educational app Unlock to which every student will have access in tutor time once a week as part of our drive to improve students’ literacy skills. In assembly, Mr Mann and Mrs German talked about the importance of having a wide vocabulary. Did you know that the average person uses between 20000-40000 words every day? Successful people are able to draw on more sophisticated means of expressing their ideas and, as we demonstrated in assembly, using appropriate terminology in exams can lead to far higher grades. Sometimes, we come across new words that have a vague meaning or even different meanings depending on context. We may avoid using new terms to avoid looking foolish. This app teaches words explicitly to overcome this problem.

Other schools already using the app have testified that it has had significant impact on students’ learning. PiXL Unlock is available to download from Apple, Google and Amazon; once downloaded, students can use the app at home as well. Mrs German demonstrated the app. Essentially, students can pick from four menus including general vocabulary, life skills, command words for GCSE examinations and vital vocabulary for each subject. At subject level, students must then choose the appropriate key stage: KS3 for Years 7, 8 and 9 and KS4 for Years 10 and 11. Over time, we expect that students will consolidate their understanding of key words, which they can apply both in lessons and in their everyday lives.

Every student has a personal login so we are able to track how often they use it. Just logging in won’t make a difference. To earn points, students have to answer questions and play some of the educational games. Naturally, there is an intrinsic value to using this app, but to encourage students to build their vocabularies, we will also be running some competitions to see which year group, which house and which tutor group is accruing the most points. In addition, there is a national league where we can compare our school points to other schools’. We would hope that Harrow Way would appear in the Top Ten in the weekly league very soon! We will keep you updated. In the meantime, do ask your son or daughter to show you what they have been doing.