At All Saints Academy, we are passionate about reading and pupil’s ability to understand the written word around them. This is because:
- Reading increases pupils vocabulary by 26%1
- Pupils who read make more progress in their GCSEs2
- It significantly improves young peoples’ cognitive development, even overcoming disadvantage due to socio-economic background3
- It helps pupils secure professional jobs4
- It helps young people feel less lonely, be less likely to suffer from depression, and have greater self-esteem5
However, we also recognise that not all young people are confident readers, with:
- 1 in five pupils not able to read well by the end of Primary school6
- 18% of 15-year-olds in English do not have a minimum level of literacy proficiency7
- Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds reading at a level on average 3 years behind their non-disadvantaged peers8
Given the significant benefits that being a secure, confident reader can bring to a young person’s academic, emotional, and spiritual development, it is right that reading be prioritised such that pupils leave secondary school at an age-appropriate level of reading comprehension.
We have a raft of strategies that are used throughout the time our young people spend at All Saints to boost their reading skills. These include:
Pupils’ reading ability is assessed at the end of each term. By assessing regularly, we are able to deploy strategies to support and stretch our young people appropriately for their reading ability.
We use the GL Assessment New Group Reading Tests (Information for parents – GL Assessment (gl-assessment.co.uk). These are series of multiple-choice questions which test how well pupils understand a given sentence or passage.
Parents are informed of their child’s reading age at the end of each term, as well as the support measures required for their reading ability.
Targeted Intervention and Support
After each reading assessment, pupils are placed into bands depending on the difference between their reading age and chronological age. The able below outlines this categorisation:
|Intervention: Phonics||Intervention: Reading||Reading Plus||ARE Readers||Free Readers|
|Reading age below 8 years old||Reading age more than 2 years below chronological age||Reading age below but within 2 years of chronological age||Reading age of at least chronological age||Reading age scoring above range available in age-appropriate test|
The support or extension activities put in place for pupils in each category are as follows:
Pupils who are identified as being advance readers, or ‘free readers’, are encouraged to read challenging texts designed to broaden their vocabulary, inspire their imagination, or develop disciplinary understanding via a given list of challenging texts. This ‘Ambitious Reads’ list features a combination of fiction and informational texts. Pupils are guided towards these texts during their reading lessons, and their reading habits are monitored to ensure appropriateness.
ARE Readers, or Age-Related Expectation Readers, are able to access the disciplinary literacy development opportunities in lessons and are monitored during reading lessons to ensure that the texts they are accessing are challenging and broadening their vocabulary.
Pupils whose reading age is not in line with their age-related expectations are enrolled in the Reading Plus programme. This is an online package that given pupils text extracts selected to be challenging but accessible, followed by comprehension questions. Pupils can access this programme both onsite and offsite.
Pupils in this level of intervention are encouraged and incentivised to complete Reading Plus and are given the opportunity to work with Reading Plus in their fortnightly reading lessons. This aspect is implemented by their English teacher. All parents of pupils in this category are invited to Reading workshops.
Pupils’ engagement with Reading Plus is monitored and reported each six-week cycle. Parents are informed of this progress in separate reading-focus letters.
Pupils who are at least two years behind their age-related expectations require comprehensive support in order catch up. Due to the urgent need for these pupils to catch up, pupils are withdrawn from two lessons per week on a rotation. This rotation allows pupils to receive reading interventions whilst not studying a reduced or limited curriculum.
Intervention: Reading Plus sessions are led by specialist Reading tutors, and feature predominantly pupils engaging with the online platform Reading Plus, in addition to opportunities for group reading. The texts selected for reading include texts linked to pupils’ current Literary Heritage learning in English.
To monitor the impact of the intervention on pupils reading ability, these pupils complete an online reading test every six weeks. Pupils who make significant progress complete a GL Assessment Reading test to re-test their reading age, and then receive the appropriate support for their updated reading category.
Pupils with low reading ability are often at risk of limited curriculum engagement, leading to challenges with behaviour or attendance. Therefore, a significant programme is put in place for pupils with a reading age lower than 8. This aspect of intervention is implemented by the specialist phonics teachers following the Read Write Inc Fresh Start Phonics programme.
Due to the urgent need for these pupils to catch up, pupils are withdrawn from two lessons per week on a rotation. This rotation allows pupils to receive reading interventions whilst not studying a reduced or limited curriculum.
To monitor the impact of the intervention on pupils reading ability, these pupils complete an onboarding assessment to identify their starting point, and then a mid-term assessment after 6 and 12 weeks.
DEAR (Drop Everything and Read)
The DEAR programme aims to develop pupils’ love of reading. All pupils spend two 30-minutes tutor sessions per week reading a novel. The novels have been selected to ensure they are age appropriate in terms of both Reading Age and themes.
The books being read from September this year are:
|Year Group||Book Title||AR Points||Themes|
|Year 7||My Arch-Enemy is a Brain in a Jar||8.0||MY, 9-13|
|Year 8||Boy in the Tower||9.0||MY, 9-13|
|Year 9||The Hate U Give||13.0||UY, 14+|
|Year 10||Noughts and Crosses||14.0||UY, 14+|
|Year 11||The Book Thief||18.0||
These books were launched in September, with teachers modelling the reading of the text. All pupils have their own book for DEAR sessions. Strategies, such as using a bookmark to aid reading, are widely adopted by pupils.
Explicit Disciplinary Literacy Instruction
Whilst the previous strands of the Reading strategy aim to aid the general reading skills of pupils, this final strand focuses on developing pupils’ abilities to read and comprehend academic texts and communicate effectively in each discipline.
When approaching an academic text, teachers consider:
- The background knowledge required to understand the text;
- The specific vocabulary needed to link themes and topics together; and
- The specific language structure of the subject.
Additionally, the figure below, from Alex Quigley’s Mind the Reading Gap, illustrates the roles of background knowledge and specific-specific reading strategies, when linked with general reading strategies, on developing pupils’ disciplinary reading skills.
Therefore, teachers have considered the key tier three terminology that pupils must understand to be successful in their subjects, and teachers use methods of explicit disciplinary literacy instruction to teach and reinforce these keywords. These strategies include:
- The Frayer Model
- Visual Organisers for synonyms or antonyms
- Glossaries and Knowledge Organisers
- Online spelling test homework
Subject-specific reading strategies are aided by the inclusion of high-quality educational textbooks in many lessons, increasing pupil exposure to academic writing in a structured and effective manner.
Reporting to Parents
The progress of pupils’ reading ability is primarily assessed using the GL Assessment Standardised Reading Tests (completed three times a year). Pupils also complete an Accelerated Reader Star Test each September to gauge their ZPD range.
After each GL Assessment Reading Test, data is analysed at a cohort level, and pupil level. This is used to identify target groups for engagement and inform appropriate action (for example promoting boy-focus reading material or promoting the free loans system with disadvantaged pupils). Progress data for Reading Plus is analysed to review the progress of pupils entered on the Reading Plus Intervention programme. This analysis reviews pupil completion, and speed and comprehension progress data. This information is internally reviewed and shared with parents.
The progress of pupils in intervention programmes is monitored using the six-weekly course-appropriate tests. When the pupils meet the stated criteria for progression, parents are contacted to discuss their child’s progress and next steps.