We want our students to be confident, fluent readers who enjoy challenging texts.
Our approach to reading is based on the following three principles:
- Reading ability is the most important predictor of academic success across the curriculum
- The only way to get better at reading is to read
- Reading can be vital for student well-being
Reading in Key Stage 3
In key stage 3, we have a structured reading curriculum and a focus on reading for pleasure:
- Library lessons: In Years 7 and 8, students have a Library lesson every two weeks. This is delivered by your child’s English teacher. Library lessons are a time to explore different books, take a quiz on a book they've just finished, and share reading recommendations.
- Measuring reading progress: We assess students’ reading progress each term using a programme called Accelerated Reader. The results enable us to guide your child to books which will challenge them and be enjoyable. Students are given their Reading Range each term and are encouraged to choose books within this range.
- Private reading time: There are opportunities for private reading in lessons, form time and social time. Students should have a reading book in their bag at all times.
- Reading across different subjects: Developing your child’s reading skills is a whole school responsibility and subjects include reading within the key stage 3 curriculum. Some subjects, such as History and English, prioritise reading when setting homework. Other subjects, such as Design and Technology, frequently include a reading task at the start of lessons.
- Reading homework diary: In Years 7 and 8, we ask students to read an appropriately challenging book (within their Reading Range) for 20 minutes every school day, and record that reading in their reading homework diary. They are expected to bring a reading book and their homework diary to every English lesson, and to ask their parent or carer to sign their diary every fortnight. In addition, students will be given an ATL grade for their attitude to reading every two weeks.
Video: supporting our students' reading
This video explains why reading is important, how we support reading in Years 7 and 8, and how you can support it at home. It includes information on the accelerated reader programme and the school library.
Click for a transcript of the video
Hello, my name is Ms Verney and I am Assistant Headteacher at Silverdale. From this month, we are sending home information about how your child’s reading skills are developing, and I want to talk to about what the information means, how school supports your child’s reading development, and how you can help your child at home.
As an English teacher, there are three questions that I am asked frequently at parents' evenings:
"My child loved reading in primary but now they've lost interest. How can I get them reading again?"
"My child has always struggled with reading. What do I do and how can I help them?"
"My child reads quite a lot but I can’t get them off Tom Gates and Captain Underpants. How can I get them reading more challenging books?"
Parents and carers know how important reading is. Reading ability is one of the strongest predictors of academic success across the curriculum, not just in English. So, the message is, if you want high grades in science, for example, make sure you're reading. Reading can be vital to a child’s well-being, offering a quiet space for imagination and thought.
However, I also know as a parent that it's not always that easy to encourage your child to read. So, the first thing to say with reading at key stage 3, is to keep it fun, look for interest and it's ok to back off if it's becoming a source of tension. If your child is very reluctant to read, or you’re worried that they’re not keeping up with reading they’re being asked to do at school, please let us know.
The only way to get better at reading is to read. So, what are we doing at school to structure your child's reading development? We have a focus on reading for pleasure at key stage 3 and we offer lots of times in school when your child can get out a good book. There are opportunities for private reading in lessons, form time and social time. Students at key stage 3 should have a book in their bag at all times.
In Year 7 and 8, students have a Library lesson every two weeks, in this room here. The library lesson is delivered by your child's English teacher and is a time to explore different books, take book quizzes and share reading recommendations. Mrs Senior is going to explain how the library lessons work in a bit more detail later and will also direct you to places where you can get suggestions for books.
How do we assess students' reading?
We assess students' reading progress each term using a programme called Accelerated Reader. The results enable us to guide your child to books which will challenge them and be enjoyable. Students are given their Reading Range each term and are encouraged to choose books within this range. The results also allow us to keep track of your child's reading progress and are reported home as one of five categories: At, Above, Below, Significantly above, Significantly below.
- At: Your child's results suggest that they are reading at the expected level for their age. This means that reading should not be a barrier to them understanding the work in lessons. At home, encourage them to keep reading as this will give them confidence with the move to key stage 4.
- Above: Your child's results suggest that they have strong reading skills and are able to start to read more challenging texts. At home, you could be encouraging them to look at different types of books and writers, perhaps looking at suggestions on the reading recommendations list.
- Below: Your child’s results suggest they find reading difficult and may struggle to understand work in some lessons. Your child's teachers are aware of the need to support your child's reading. We may offer your child specific reading interventions, such as paired reading where students read two morning a week with trained Sixth Form mentors.
- Significantly above: Your child’s results suggest that they have very strong reading skills and will benefit from reading challenging texts in and out of school.
- Significantly below: Your child's results suggest they find reading very difficult. At school, your child will receive individual help from the Reading Support Team, which is made up of a range of people, including a specialist in phonics.
Whatever level your child is reading at, encourage them to read every day, if possible. Talk to your child about what they're reading – research has shown that adult-child conversations around books are beneficial.
Still reluctant to read?
If your child continues to be reluctant to read, listening to challenging texts is still very valuable. There are lots of free audiobooks on-line, as well as podcasts and sites such as BBC Sounds and Sheffield Libraries' eLibrary. Listening to books will give your child access to new vocabulary, challenging ideas and 'a window on the world'.
How we use Accelerated Reader in school
Accelerated Reader is a computer-based programme for schools to use to monitor independent reading practice and progress. As well as regular monitoring, it helps to guide students to books that suit their individual reading levels, then they take a short quiz after reading a book to see how well they've understood it.
We assess the reading ability of our Year 7, 8 and 9 students 3 times a year: in September, Jan-Feb and again in May-June. The assessment is called the Star Reading test, and it's an online multiple choice assessment of 34 questions and takes 20 to 30 minutes. The test adapts to each student, getting easier or more challenging depending on their accuracy and speed of responses, so it provides a tailored and accurate picture of their reading age and level.
The Star Reading Test gives each student a reading range score correlating to books' level of difficulty. So if your child receives a reading range of, say, 4.5 to 6.9 we will encourage them to read within that range. Not too easy not too difficult but – like Goldilocks' porridge – just right. Students are rewarded with stickers, sweets and certificates for passing tests, getting 100% in a test and meeting their termly points targets.
What part does the library play?
The books in the school library are labelled with their Accelerated Reader book level so students can see at a glance whether a book will be suitable for their ability. Our Year 7 and 8 students are fortunate enough to have one English lesson a fortnight in the library and this is a great time for them to change their reading book, take a quiz and explore what to read next. Along with their English teacher the librarian, Mrs Senior, is there to help them with this and talk to them about how they are getting on and help them out of a reading rut if they're a bit stuck.
They also have the Reading Cloud, which is our school library catalogue online. Here, students can browse all the books, look at reading lists and link to book recommendation websites. All students have a Reading Cloud account, too, where they can keep track of their loans and overdue books. The Reading Cloud can be also be accessed via the Student MLE.
Reading in Key Stages 4 and 5
At key stage 4 and 5, your child will be expected to read extensively across all subjects, and the curriculum has been designed to support students’ reading for learning. Teachers will set challenging texts in class and for homework.
Silverdale has a well-stocked library, which is also accessible online.
More information can be found on our library page.
Frequently asked questions
What support is there if my child is finding reading difficult?
We have a number of support programmes for students who are struggling with reading. We will contact you if we think your child would benefit from extra support.
What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s reading?
Please contact school. The reading team meet regularly to discuss students’ progress in reading, and we will be able to explore how we can best work with your child.
How can I help at home?
Encourage your child to read for 20 minutes every day, if possible. Talk to your child about what they’re reading – research has shown that adult-child conversations around books are beneficial. Make sure your child has a reading book in their bag and that they change it regularly. If your child is reluctant to read, listening to challenging texts is still very valuable. Read aloud to your child (they're never too old for this!) or there are lots of free audiobooks on-line such as via the Libby app, as well as podcasts and sites like BBC Sounds. Listening to books will give your child access to new vocabulary, challenging ideas and ‘a window on the world’ that they might not be able to access on their own yet.