Reading at John Spence

As a school, we understand the need for a robust whole school approach to reading that will support students to access and progress through our Curriculum. We actively seek to implement strategies that will support students in improving their reading skills.

Reading is a key focus in our School but why is reading important?

Self Esteem – The sooner students develop reading skills, the more they gain ground in the areas listed below. That leads to more assurance in how they speak and write, as well as giving them the confidence of an expanded knowledge base. When students start at an early age to read about diverse people, distant places, and historical events, they become more creative and open.

Improved Concentration – An emphasis on reading and student literacy helps develop higher levels of focus and concentration. It also forces the reader to sort things out in their own mind – including topics that might not be familiar to them at all (Paris at the end of World War II, for example, or another planet in a science fiction novel). This type of concentration on one topic – rather than trying to do many things at once – leads to better focus even after the book is put down.

Critical and Analytical thinking skills – The classic here is when a young reader becomes absorbed with a mystery book and manages to solve the mystery in their head before the book reveals it. That’s a simple example of how reading helps students develop better critical and analytical skills.

Stronger Memory Skills – Think about reading. Even a primary age child with a relatively simple book must keep in mind a group of characters, the setting, and past actions. Reading helps to strengthen memory retention skills. That’s a powerful tool for young students – and older adults, as well.

Expanded Vocabulary – How many times do we all search for just the right word to express what we’re trying to say? Readers do that less. They have a larger vocabulary, and the words that young readers learn in a book will eventually make their way into their speech.

These are some of the most powerful ways that reading is important for student success.

There are many initiatives that we run in school to keep reading a high priority, some of these include:

  • New Group Reading Tests (NGRT) which is a standardised, termly assessment that reliably measures reading skills against the national average. This means we can regularly monitor the reading progress of our students and provide support and intervention where necessary.
  • Form time reading is an essential part of our form time programme, students are read to by their form teacher.
  • Disciplinary Reading requires teachers to integrate challenging reading texts into lessons as appropriate.
  • Active Independent Reading (AIR) Students are encouraged to submit a weekly book review to their Communication Google Classroom. Each review is acknowledged by teachers.
  • Accelerated Reader/Library lessons – KS3 students have a lesson in the Library once a fortnight to promote reading for pleasure. In this lesson they can select new books, read and quiz.

We also run a number of literacy interventions across the school, these include:

  • Reciprocal Reading which is a structured method of guided reading for small groups. Children in the group will take on different roles, working together to explore and find meaning in texts.
  • Literacy Intervention – Our librarian delivers small group sessions working intensively with students identified as having specific literacy issues.
  • English Support – Students requiring a more extensive package of support may access extra timetabled literacy with specialist English teachers.
  • SEND/SSC Support – Students requiring support with phonics and early reading access a variety of group sessions overseen by the SEN team.
  • Dyslexia Support – Individuals requiring support for dyslexia or dyslexic traits are tutored in small groups. Resources and support are provided by the Local Authority team.
  • Paired Reading – Students who fall below our threshold but are not involved in another form of reading intervention are matched with a strong reader in the same year group and take part in supervised paired reading during Form Time Reading.

How you can help your child with their reading?

  • Encourage your child to read – Reading helps your child’s wellbeing, develops imagination and has educational benefits too. Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.
  • Encourage reading choice – Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time – it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up.
  • Read together – Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your children to read to each other. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.
  • Create a comfortable environment – Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently – or together.
  • Make use of your local library – Visit them when you’re able to and explore all sorts of reading ideas. Local libraries also offer brilliant online materials, including audiobooks and ebooks to borrow. See Libraries Connected for more digital library services and resources.
  • Talk about books – This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.
  • Bring reading to life – You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend? Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an interesting article you’ve read.
  • Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them – You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it.

If you would like any further information on our reading strategy or how you can support your child with reading, please contact the school on [email protected]

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