Teaching and learning
Language and communication is a central principle of teaching and learning at our school. At secondary school, each subject has its own specialist vocabulary and very specific formats which are predominantly information and non-fiction texts (based on real events). This is a real shift from primary school where most of the texts encountered by students are fiction (stories that are not factual in nature – fantasy, imagination). We embrace the fact that it is our responsibility to ensure that our students encounter a wide range of academic texts but support them in learning new words and concepts which will challenge them too.
KS3 – Unlocking the Curriculum and the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) Students in years 7 and 8 all participate in weekly unlocking the curriculum lessons which are focused on improving our students’ reading skills and vocabulary use. Not only do these lessons provide valuable knowledge of the world but they also equip students with important skills such as structuring thought, memory and organisation. As well as this, all our year 7 and 8 students participate in half-termly reading lessons with our wonderful librarian, Mrs Choudry. Again, these lessons are primarily dedicated to improving our students’ reading abilities but also instilling them with a passion to read and be aware of the many benefits associated with reading for pleasure.
READING FOR PLEASURE
Tutorial Reading Programme
A significant proportion of time in registration is dedicated to our tutorial reading programme. Each year group has a designated novel (should we link the 1 page overview of these texts?) which is read by form tutors. The books have been carefully selected to present challenge; allow for sensitive exposure to key themes that help them to make sense of the world around them; and that are engaging. Predominantly, children can listen on a higher language level than they can read, so a fluent reader reading aloud makes complex ideas more accessible and exposes children to vocabulary and language patterns that aren’t part of everyday speech. As well as this, all students who claim to ‘hate’ reading still love stories and, to date, the feedback from students about the programme has been overwhelmingly positive.
Going for Gold and 16 Before 16
We are extremely lucky to have our wonderful library as a central hub for our school and, linked to the library, there are two initiatives for our students. The Going for Gold reading reward initiative is aimed at key stage 3 students. Students are encouraged to complete reviews of the books they’ve read and then receive varying levels of reward based on how many books they finish over the course of the year. Your input in supporting this initiative is vital.
For our older readers, the 16 before 16 challenge encourages students to read the books specified on the list for a reward. The books are a mixture of staff recommendations and classics and they pose an intriguing challenge
for those who choose to participate. They collectively form a strong support for those undertaking GCSE study as well as preparing them for independent reading and study in Key Stage 5.
SUPPORT FOR READERS WHO ARE STRUGGLING
Tiers of support
For students who have been identified as requiring further support with their reading ability, we run a wide range of interventions dependent on identified needs. These include:
● phonics catch ups;
● daily support sessions using a leading literacy programme for word recognition support;
● reading partners in which younger students are assigned an older reading mentor for daily practice;
● specific reading comprehension and spelling groups for those needing support with reading