Reading in Class
If pupils are to succeed academically, they need to be accurate, fluent readers with broad background knowledge and vocabulary that facilitates comprehension. As a result of this, wherever possible, academic content is presented to pupils through extended reading. Teachers vary how texts are read in class: sometimes the teacher reads, modelling good prosody; other times, pupils read aloud to the class. When reading, teachers regularly check for understanding and reading is accompanied by explicit vocabulary instruction and text dependent questions.
At Trinity, we ensure that pupils who require reading intervention are quickly identified so that they can be given the support to rapidly catch up. When pupils arrive in year 7, and then once a year from then on, their reading ability is tested using an NGRT reading test. Pupils who perform badly on this test are then given a second, fine grain decoding assessment to ascertain if they need to be placed upon Thinking Reading, our highly effective intervention scheme. With the exception of those pupils who left the school before finishing the programme, every single pupil who has been put onto it has rapidly and completely caught up to their chronological age, with some students making 9 years of reading progress in a school year.
In years 7, 8, 9 and 10 we run weekly reading clubs for the most academically able. The focus of these groups is to introduce students to challenging literature so that they can broaden their tastes whilst also grappling with complex issues and themes. Texts are chosen by English teachers and the clubs meet once a week in order to discuss what they are reading. Texts read so far include The Giver by Lois Lowry, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead.
For those students in years 7, 8 and 9 who struggle with reading, we run additional clubs which take place three times a week. In these support groups, students read more accessible texts with the support and guidance of a teacher in order to help build reading fluency and develop their background knowledge.
Form time Reading
Every Wednesday form time, all students take part in whole class reading where they read a set text out loud as a group, each child having a copy of the text and taking it in turns to read sections. This shared reading provides valuable reading practice and allows form tutors to correct pronunciation or accuracy errors as and when they arise. Because all students have a copy of the text, everyone is practising reading at the same time, either by reading out loud or by following along when others read. Form tutors insist upon projection, correct intonation and accuracy and model good reading themselves so that students regularly hear skilled readers.
Year 7 read a selection of abridged classics, including The Illiad, Dracula, Oliver Twist and Sherlock Holmes, the intention being to introduce them to canonical works of literature and build their cultural capital. Year 8 read The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins, a non-fiction book that explains natural phenomena and some of the biggest scientific questions. Year 9 read A Little History of the World by E. H Gombrich, a sweeping historical overview that begins in Neolithic times and sketches a fantastic narrative of world history up until the First World War. Year 10 read A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton, an accessible introduction to some of the major Western philosophers. These three non-fiction texts have been chosen in order to develop students’ general knowledge.
Home Learning Reading
Once a student has learnt how to decode (accurately change the letters onto the page into sounds) then reading ability is heavily linked to background knowledge and vocabulary. Students who read regularly and widely will be slowly developing their vocabulary and increasing their general knowledge. If students are serious about getting good grades at English Language GCSE, they need good general knowledge so that they are able to cope with unseen extracts. To help develop their background knowledge, students in years 7 to 10 are set weekly reading assignments on www.commonlit.org As a parent, you can help by checking that they complete their reading homework each week as well as encouraging them to read a book for pleasure. Modelling reading is also an important approach: if students see you reading then they are more likely to perceive reading as something pleasurable.