Our approach to reading

The ability to read well is a fundamental life skill. It allows us to access a challenging curriculum, comprehend and process complex ideas and it is a prerequisite for developing a love of reading. Being a fluent reader also correlates with strong academic performance, employment success and high levels of health and wellbeing.

Our aims of our reading strategy are two fold. Firstly, we want all students to improve in their reading, regardless of their starting point – allowing everyone more opportunities to access more complex and enriching texts. Secondly, we want the students with the lowest reading ages to make the most improvement – and helping support those who are at risk of underperforming academically.

How we improve our students’ reading ability

Our reading strategy can be broken into two parts – a universal offer that benefits everyone and a specialist provision for those with the lowest reading scores.

Our universal provision

What we do

Why we do it

Students read for at least 20 minutes every day during Drop Everything and Read (DEAR). Students follow along in a Ruler SLANT while the teacher reads aloud.

Studies show that reading just two challenging novels in a year can lead to 16 months’ worth of academic progress. Reading for 30 minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%. 

Specific library lessons every fortnight for students in Years 7 to 9. Students choose to read from a range of titles and complete a reading log, which is checked by the teacher.

As above. In addition, the DfE evidence review highlights the importance of regular library use.

Explicit teaching of tier two vocabulary (high frequency academic words used across many disciplines) and tier three vocabulary (subject specific words) across subjects. 

The explicit teaching of both Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary to improve literacy is well documented and forms a key pillar of the EEF’s ‘Improving Literacy in Secondary School’.

Our specialist provision

What we do

Why we do it

Dyslexia-specific intervention programme (Lexia) for children with a diagnosis of, or who are suspected of having, dyslexia.

There is strong evidence that using Lexia has a moderate impact at a low cost.

Small group teaching, including the teaching of phonics in Year 7 (using the Read Write Inc Fresh Start programme).

There is good evidence that teaching a small group of students (up to approximately 5) over time results in 4 months of additional learning. There is well-documented evidence that the use of the phonics programme also leads to significant improvements in reading.

The impact

We measure reading ages using the GL Assessment New Group Reading Test (NGRT) at least once a year. The emerging data suggest that over time reading scores are on average increasing beyond age-related expectations. This suggests that reading is improving for all. Students who have reading ages classed as ‘below average’ by GL testing make the most rapid progress in their reading – with approximately 50% fewer students classed as ‘below average’ after three years at secondary school.