Reading Widely and Often
“Research shows that reading widely and often is one of the most important factors in determining future academic success. Beyond this, it also plays a pivotal role in widening our young people’s understanding of the wider world, developing their sense of empathy and opening their eyes to a range of moral issues and debates. This is why we are on a mission to make St. Peter’s an outstanding reading school.”
As part of our commitment to this, we are running a number of initiatives to improve our reading provision across the school.
We believe that reading should be at the heart of the curriculum which is why we are focussing on ensuring that all students have access to high quality and high challenge academic reading material in all subjects. It is important to recognise that subject disciplines have their own way of reading. For example, reading like a historian can include reading strategies like ‘sourcing’, ‘contextualising’ and ‘corroborating’ that are uniquely applicable to reading texts in history. As a school, we are working hard to ensure we are equipping our students with the tools they need to access academic language in all subjects.
Bigger lending library
As part of our commitment to reading, we have also re-located our reading space to the Learning Centre and invested in a new lending system which will allow students to borrow books more easily. With thousands of books to choose from, including fiction, non-fiction, revision guides, texts by a range of BAME authors, etc, we can ensure our students’ have a rich and varied reading experience. We will be launching our top reads programme in September too as well as encouraging our students to share their favourite books with one another.
Increased access to Accelerated Reader for students in Years 7-9
Accelerated Reader is proven to improve students’ ability to read independently and enthuse a love of reading through its use of motivational quizzes, competitions such as ‘one million words’ and its signposting of appropriate and challenging next reads. All students in Years 7 to 9 are now enrolled in Accelerated Reader and will spend time in English lessons focussing on making progress with their reading. Our new library space will also allow students to reading more widely and often before and after school as well as at break times and lunch.
Mapping reading across our learning journeys
A key focus for September 2021 will be to look at how we can link reading more explicitly to our departmental learning journeys. By supporting this further with reading lists and recommended reading posters, we can ensure that students are able to read widely around all aspects of their education.
‘Drop Everything and Read’ activities linked to our Teaching and Learning events calendar
Evidence suggests that if students were to read for just twenty five minutes a day, they would read a million words annually (Nagy and Harman, 1987). However, it is not just the amount of reading that our students undertake that is important, but the breadth and depth of content, ensuring that students’ reading diets are rich, varied and challenging. As part of our ‘Drop Everything and Read’ strategies, students will have access to a range of fiction and non-fiction extracts and texts in form time and lessons, with opportunities to read independently, read aloud and be read to. There will also be reading activities linked to national topics and days of celebration, for example, National Democracy day, where students will access a range texts and resources, relevant to democracy, across a range of subjects.
Author visits and virtual meets
At St. Peter’s, we love to encourage our students’ love of reading through wider opportunities such as visits and virtual meets with our favourite authors. As part of this, we think it is so important for students to understand the process of creating a book, from the drafting and writing process, to the final publication. Visits from writers, designers and editors is a brilliant way of achieving this.
Carnegie Shadowing groups
Involvement in the Carnegie Shadowing project is another way we like to promote a reading culture at St. Peter’s. The Carnegie Award is given annually to the UK’s best fiction writers for young people. As a shadowing group, our students are involved in the process of awarding the final prize, by reading, discussing and reviewing the shortlisted books from the day the shortlist is published. It’s a fantastic way to encourage wider skills in our young people as well as exposing them to some of the UK’s best new writing.
We have always had a rich history of student-led reading clubs at St. Peter’s and our new Enrichment and Enhancement programme will ensure that this continues. Providing an opportunity for students to share their love of reading, and discover new texts, our reading groups play a vital role in fostering lifelong skills around reading, discussion and debate.