Reading at The St Leonards Academy

Reading is important because if you can read,
you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything
- Tomie dePaola 

At The St Leonards Academy we believe that reading is one of the most important skills a child can develop.  Research has shown that the ability to read to a decent level, as well as being essential for success in everyday life, has a direct impact on student outcomes even in subjects like maths and science. We believe that the ability to read well is a right that all of our students have and that none of them should leave school without it.  Furthermore, we believe that a love of reading for its own sake is invaluable and should be nurtured and encouraged as much as possible by every teacher in every subject.

Promoting reading

Students at TSLA are encouraged to read in lots of different ways.  Around the school you will see prominent quotes about the power of reading and teachers have posters on their door sharing which book they would recommend our students to read.  We have a well-stocked, up to date library that is open at break times and after school and a full-time librarian on hand to help students select the books that are right for them. We also have a team of dedicated student librarians who support in the library and help us to promote reading through a calendar of events. In addition to this there is a TSLA book club who meet once a fortnight and we regularly host author visits, both in person and virtually.

(Please note that the school library is currently closed due to flooding; it will re-open as soon as possible)

Tutor time reading

On Fridays, all tutors of year 7-10 groups read to their students for 10 minutes and then discuss what they have read.  Year 7 read a whole book, such as ‘Wonder’ while years 8-10 read a range of carefully selected non-fiction and fiction articles and extracts.  This wide range has enabled challenging themes to be explored and discussed and immerses them in different worlds and perspectives.

Being read to creates the opportunity for exposure to countless words and phrases which are not found in everyday speech as well as the social experience of reading and discussing together, all of which builds a sense of community and belonging.

Support for struggling readers

All students at the academy complete an online reading test three times a year (usually in September, January and June).  This data is shared with all teachers, who then use it to inform the planning of their lessons.

Students who are identified as having a reading age significantly below their chronological age are offered intervention and support strategies such as our ‘expert reader’ programme where students read 1 to 1 to an adult and ‘Lexonik’ where students are taught to recognise a wide range of word parts, such as phonemes, graphemes and digraphs to help them to decode and understand difficult vocabulary.

Reading in English, Accelerated Reader and MyOn

In English lessons at TSLA, we explore a broad range of high-quality novels, plays and poetry from literary heritage through to modern classics; we study literature that exemplifies our goal: to expand students’ understanding of time, the world around them, and themselves. As well as an exploration of literature, we also study a variety of non-fiction texts such as articles, speeches, and transactional writing, so that students are equipped with the skills to confidently read in everyday life.

100% of students in Y7-9 are enrolled on Renaissance Place’s ‘Accelerated Reader’, an online reading intervention programme which is facilitated by English teachers. Students have one reading lesson per fortnight in which they are able to select a book (guided by a reading age assessment) which they read independently. Once students complete a book, they have the opportunity to demonstrate their progress by completing a ‘quiz’ on Renaissance Place. Students who make progress and read regularly are rewarded for their efforts through Pride £s, badges and Waterstones vouchers.

In addition to Accelerated Reader lessons, we are incredibly lucky to have a mini lending library in every English classroom at TSLA, which is made up of over 50 popular fiction and non-fiction books that students can borrow and read throughout the school year- these books are recommended by staff and students alike and feature popular titles such as: Diary of Wimpy Kid; Harry Potter; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; The Hunger Games, Marcus Rashford ‘You are a Champion’ and many, many more.

In English, students in Y7-9 have fortnightly reading homework: students are expected to read a book of their choice for a minimum of 30 minutes, at least once per week. This is supported by the online library website MyOn. All students have a log in and can access an enormous library which can be read on a laptop or tablet. This is aligned to the Accelerated Reader programme and students can take quizzes on any book that they read.

Reading across the curriculum

At TSLA, all teachers are considered to be teachers of reading and in most lessons students will be taught and tested on new, academic vocabulary.  Students are supported to read and engage with range of text types across most subjects, through strategies such as predicting, clarifying and summarising. From World War One poetry to how diseases spread, your child will be reading regularly and widely at the academy.

Strategies for supporting your child at home:

Be interested - ask about what your child has been reading at school – ask them to summarise the text and, where appropriate, summarise what they think will happen next or whether or not they agree with the point of view stated.

Be sensitive - ensure students have chance to discuss any delicate or controversial themes that arise.

Be supportive - Encourage your child to get off a screen and read whatever interests them (as long as it is age appropriate). From comics to the newspaper – all reading is good reading! Research has shown that even twenty minutes reading a day (we recommend reading just before bed) can have a huge impact.

Be an example - let your child see you reading for pleasure on a regular basis at home.