Reading Strategy Aims:
- Promote reading for pleasure
- Support those who struggle to read
- Provide opportunities to read in subjects
The ability to read is a fundamental life skill. It is essential to us all if we are to participate fully in society and the workplace. Pupils with poor reading struggle to read independently, and so read less. As a result, they do not accumulate the background knowledge and vocabulary they need to improve their comprehension. It is therefore harder for them to access the curriculum in secondary school because the required levels of literacy rise rapidly beyond primary school.
Without identification of their reading needs and targeted additional teaching, pupils who arrive in secondary school as poor readers are likely to continue to struggle. As the secondary curriculum places increasing demands on reading comprehension, older pupils who struggle with reading comprehension do not catch up. Each year, only 10% of disadvantaged children who leave primary school with their reading below the expected standard get passes in English and mathematics at GCSE.
2022 saw the start of the implementation of a college-wide reading strategy to help us ensure we have a well-thought-out curriculum and a wider school reading strategy to help all pupils to become proficient readers. This commitment has been communicated to all staff by raising the visibility of reading across the school. The aim of our strategy is for staff know the part they play in supporting struggling readers and deploy a variety of strategies to support reading.
Senior Leadership in the College prioritised reading. At the start of 2022 we invested in additional, bespoke help for struggling readers in the form of a Reader Leader. Part of the Reader Leader role is to test all new and existing KS3 pupils’ reading ability to establish current reading ages - via Star Reader testing. This provides the College with “reading ages”. Those pupils that fall below the expected threshold are invited to attend diagnostic intervention sessions with the Reader Leader to determine which aspects of reading the pupil struggles with. The sessions help to assess fluency rates, word reading accuracy and efficiency, and phonic knowledge. This analytical approach means that the College is able to design additional teaching and intervention programmes to meet pupils’ specific reading needs. Further Diagnostic Star Reader tests allow the College to assess and track the impact these strategies have and the progress the pupils make towards an appropriate reading age with the ultimate aim of enabling access to the curriculum and the development of a love of reading.
All Key Stage 3 pupils in the College participate in daily Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) sessions. These take place on a lesson rotation to ensure the impact on the curriculum is minimal. Each session last for 20 minutes with the teacher modelling best practice. 20 minutes is considered the optimum time as it allows sufficient time to engage in a book whilst avoiding the impact of mental fatigue. It is estimated that if a pupil reads for 20 minutes per day (3600 minutes per academic year) they will see 1.8 million words. In stark contrast, a pupil that reads for just 1 minute per day (180 minutes per academic year) will only see 8000 words. A small amount of reading each day makes an incredible difference!
Reading is a whole-school improvement priority and therefore is the main driving force behind CPD. The importance of reading and pedagogical approaches to promoting and support reading within subjects/departments is a priority.
Staff training follows the research conducted by the EEF the ensure its validity and impact. The staff delivering training will share their expertise and pass on the necessary information to equip subject teachers with the tools needed to help them understand what pupils need to know to become proficient readers, and what gaps in their knowledge might prevent this.
We aspire to become a “reader friendly” school where pupils are presented with wide-ranging opportunities to develop their reading skills in combination with disciplinary literacy relating to the subjects they study. We want our pupils to read fluently and with automaticity so that they have the best chances at success.