Literacy Team

Defining Literacy

St Mary’s defines literacy as essentially the generation and transmission of meaning through listening, speaking, reading and writing in all their forms.


Literacy skills are vital to enabling us to live rich, fulfilling lives and to provide the medium for nearly all teaching and learning. Today’s world is driven increasingly by the construction, transmission and interpretation of information requiring new definitions of literacy and the teaching of literacy. To be literate today means much more than to be competent in dealing with printed texts and to have a familiarity with an established body of knowledge. New technologies have widened the definition of the literate person to include making sense of texts presented in myriad electronic forms and organised in more varied and complex ways than the linear sequence of most books. These complex issues cover a large territory, they are subject to ongoing curriculum change and the respective teaching approaches are often contested and challenged.

Student teachers will be teaching in an uncertain world. If they are to meet the needs of the children they teach, they will have to draw on their critical and creative powers as well as their resources of knowledge and understanding. Through their course and school experience students will accumulate a repertoire of productive classroom practices, develop an understanding of what "literate" means, consider their own literacy and extend their knowledge and understanding.

Today’s world demands high-quality literacy skills, which require the high-quality teaching of literacy.


St Mary's Literacy Team is committed to the following aims:

  • Cultivating a passion for this rich and complex subject that will enable student teachers to generate excitement in learning in primary and secondary classrooms.
  • Ensuring that students have a substantial, flexible core of knowledge in Literacy as well as an understanding of how to bring about learning so that all children can be best helped to talk, listen, read and write.
  • Encouraging evaluative reflection of Literacy pedagogy, theory and classroom practice.
  • Encouraging critical self-reflection of the beliefs, values and attitudes towards Literacy learning and teaching.
  • Encouraging students to develop a rich conception of Literacy, rooted in an understanding of children as active participants in their learning.
  • Developing students' knowledge, awareness and understanding of Northern Ireland's Literacy policy and curriculum.
  • Developing students' awareness of current trends and expectations in Literacy learning and teaching.
  • Ensuring students commit to teaching Literacy in the direction of social justice.
  • Helping students to meet the challenges of teaching Literacy in the interests of diversity and inclusion.
  • Raising standards in Literacy by setting high expectations of student teachers.

Team Leader: Dr Donna (Murray) Hazzard

Associated Staff