Reading School Introduction and Rationale
At Trinity High School and Sixth Form Centre we place reading at the forefront of our education: first thing in the morning, every day. Not being able to read to your correct age means that you struggle much more just attempting to understand what is being said and written, and when you consider that only 59% of pupils leaving primary school reached the expected level for reading in 2022, many of those pupils will struggle to access the secondary school curriculum.
At Trinity High School, we are aspirational for every single child that is in our care, and we understand what is required to improve the reading ages of all our pupils: we are taking the necessary action to make sure this happens. After analysing reading assessments, we now realise that a pressing concern is ensuring that all students in our school should be able to read to their chronological age as a bare minimum because reading is an integral skill, needed to interact with others throughout their lives.
We want so much for all the young people that attend Trinity to achieve personal growth, happiness and accumulation of useful knowledge for their future life; we also want to ensure that they have a voice and meaning to their adult professional life. This starts in the home, the classroom, and with the way in which they understand the world around them.
As teachers we are expert readers; through our own study we understand the demand of independent reading to learn. Our pupils are novice readers – no matter what their current reading level, we have a responsibility to help them progress. English is the language of all our subjects. For pupils to be able to progress as learners throughout their lives, they need to be able to read to learn – and increasingly difficult texts.
Reading School Intent
1. Every student in our school can read to their chronological age as a bare minimum.
2. Through regular exposure to literature, students will accumulate useful knowledge and achieve personal growth and happiness.
3. Reading School will allow us to entice students through reading, delight them through reading and challenging their thinking every day.
The Killer Research
At Trinity, the implementation of our quality of education is underpinned by our Trinity Teaching framework and evidence-based research. To become experts, we must listen to experts. When approaching the science of reading, we have made great steps in reading, researching, testing, and discussing the best approaches for our children. This research has led to a plan to enable all students in the academy to read every day, with a variety of texts, and to enable them to have a specific reading lesson.
Research analysis comparing the engaged reading time of 2.2 million students found that:
0-5 mins per day = well below national average
5-14 mins per day = sluggish gains below national average
15+ mins = accelerated reading gains
20 mins per day = likely score better than 90% of their peers on standardised tests.
(Source – National Centre for Education Statistics)
How Reading School works?
Reading School is our platform to allow students to be enticed and delighted by literature every single day. It is also about daily exposure to reading for the correct length of time to accelerate reading gains. Therefore, at Trinity every day begins with reading. Our school day begins at 8.40am and after a brief 15 minutes with their tutor, students move to their reading group where specific reading knowledge is developed in small groups with texts targeted to each child’s reading ability. Each of the groups have been formed based on tests we have carried out that tell us the current reading ages. We have six groups in total.
The Reading School Groups and Evaluating Impact
Our Reading School Groups have been carefully developed to ensure students make maximum reading progress. We use the National Group Reading Test from GL Assessments to determine student reading ages. Twice a year, we retest students, evaluate progress, and identify students who may need to change reading groups.
Our groups have been carefully configured. Some of the groups support the rapid reading progress of struggling and weaker readers whilst some groups stretch and challenge our most confident and able readers. Students and staff have been given agency over book choices and therefore enjoy reading school together – it is a calm, purposeful and enjoyable start to the day.
Our Reading Groups are:
Reading Refresh – this intensive computer-based group focuses on those students for whom reading is a challenge. We will help the students to rapidly address reading skills gaps and navigate their way through specifically designed online software to help them make rapid reading progress.
Jekyll’s Reading Lab – within these small TA and teacher-led groups, students will work with no more than four to five other students, using short and interesting specifically designed reading texts that allow the students to make rapid progress. Students will be working with materials from the McGraw Hill Reading Laboratory programme.
Olivers – within our ‘Oliver’ groups we are looking to turn the students into reading detectives, increasing their inquisitiveness and their independence much like the character from Charles Dicken’s famous novel Oliver Twist. We know from research that inference is a key skill that must be mastered to make the necessary progress at KS3 and KS4 and that many students struggle with this vital skill. Students look for clues within their novel as they read and practice, converting what is explicit into what might be implicit – they are able to read between the lines.
Cathys – within our ‘Cathy’ groups we are looking to turn the students into reading justifiers. Students will read texts with increasing levels of challenge that then help them to comprehend the wider world with increased confidence and in a more exploratory fashion, in a similar manner to the protagonist Catherine Earnshaw of Emily Bronte’s classic text ‘Wuthering Heights’. We will be asking the students as they read to look beneath the explicit and consider to themselves, ‘How do I know this?’.
Offreds – within our ‘Offred’ groups we are looking to turn the students into reading thinkers, as their independent thought increases, we delve into the territory of deep metacognition. They are increasingly independent readers but still working within the group setting, and their confidence in their own independence will hopefully lead them to challenge the world around them, much like the heroine Offred of Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. There is also a focus on the increasingly challenging vocabulary encountered within this group.
Atticus – within our ‘Atticus’ groups we are aiming for what you might call total comprehension around the novel, as students develop their knowledge, vocabulary, and cultural awareness as they read. Much like the calm but enquiring mind of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s 20th century classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, students think about their uncertainties and perhaps head towards a point of directing their own questions within the group setting. This is reading for pleasure, but our students are now fully fledged questioners, they are enticed, delighted but also challenged with each turn of the page.
What are we reading this term – Autumn Term
Our Oliver groups will be reading two different novels this term, ‘Rat’ by Patrice Lawrence and ‘Girl Missing’ by Sophie McKenzie. ‘Rat’ tells the story of young Al, a teenager with a mum in trouble with the police and a next-door neighbour who hates his guts. A story about loneliness, community, and revenge. ‘Girl Missing’ is a thriller which tells the story of Lauren, a young adult who after finding something online believes that she in fact might be another girl who has been missing for 14 years.
Our Cathy groups this term will also be reading two different novels, ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman and ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon. ‘Noughts and Crosses’ is what you might call a reverse-dystopian story, with GCSE novelist Blackman re-writing recent history and racial relations of the 20th century to ask readers to question – what if the shoe was on the other foot? It was recently turned into a successful BBC TV series. ‘Everything Everything’ follows the story of Madeline, an 18-year-old girl who has never been outside or interacted with another human being in person. She believes she has a very rare condition which would kill her if this ever changed, but everything is not quite as it seems.
Our Offred groups will be reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian science fiction novel ‘Never Let Me Go’, which is set during an alternate 1990’s England and a special boarding school called Halisham. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are all ‘students’ at this school, but everything is not what it seems. It is a novel about friendship, mortality and where we might be heading as a species. It was named Time Magazine’s best novel of 2005.
Our Atticus groups will be reading a well-known and highly revered novel from 2003 ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy growing up in Kabul during the conflict in Afghanistan. As the Soviet invasion of the country fails and the Taliban gradually takes control, Amir and his friends must battle the huge challenges life throws at them. It is a devastating and inspiring story, which was on the New York Times bestsellers list for over two years.
How can Parents/Carers encourage reading at home?
• Download free ebooks from the internet. Many children engage more with reading when it’s on an interactive screen.
• Agree that video game play/social media time is matched with some time reading.
• Put subtitles on TV programmes.
• Listen to audiobooks – BBC Sounds and other websites have many free audiobooks to listen to and download.
• Read the same book as your child and discuss characters, chapters and moments.
• Let your child see you reading.
• Set a time for reading – studies show that reading a book before bed promotes healthy sleep.
• Allow your child to read a range of texts, especially ones that match their interests. Comics, magazines, newspapers and lots more are all acceptable. Reading is not just about books.
• Discuss what your child has learned during the school day and what their day consisted of – dialogue and recounting what has happened during the day helps to consolidate learning.
• To support with reading with your child at home, the following website offers a range of age-appropriate and up to date book recommendations. Simply click on the year group that your child is in and a range of suggestions will appear.
Recommended books for secondary school students aged 11-16 (schoolreadinglist.co.uk)