Reading at Stockport School

Reading isn’t just about English… at Stockport School, all teachers are teachers of reading. Two recent exam questions help present why this is important:

    • In a recent geography GCSE paper, students were asked to explain …ways to mitigate the impact of flooding…

    • If a student didn’t know that the word ‘mitigate’ means to make something bad less severe or less serious, they were not able to answer the question even if they had the geography knowledge required.

    • In a recent maths GCSE paper, students were provided with the number of people in a theatre, the numbers in the stalls and were asked to work out the number of people in the circle.

    • A student who didn’t know that the ‘stalls’ and the ‘circle’ are part of the theatre areas for seating could be put off this question.

Students need to develop their reading and their vocabulary to help them access all their examinations and any texts they may be faced with in the future. If we think about how complex a rental agreement or a mortgage can be, we can see why students need to develop into confident readers who can work with unfamiliar texts.

Developing vocabulary

To help thinking about vocabulary, we follow a model that divides words into three areas:

    • Tier 1 vocabulary – these are the most common words that we use everyday.

    • Tier 2 vocabulary – these are the less commonly used words – just like ‘mitigate’ in the example above.

    • Tier 3 vocabulary – these are the technical words for a subject, for example, the names of tools in design technology or literary terms in English.

The more young people read, the more that they will develop their tier 2 vocabulary and the more quickly they will be able to understand texts.

When do students get to read at school?

All teachers at Stockport School understand the importance of promoting reading. This includes fiction and non-fiction. In addition to the reasons above, we value the importance of reading for pleasure in helping build young people’s understanding of the world, their ability to empathise with others and developing their imagination and creativity. We have created a number of opportunities for students to be reading:

    • In Year 7 and Year 8, students have a fortnightly Reading for Pleasure lesson which takes place in the library. Students will spend some of this time reading, but they will also have discussions with the librarian, the class teacher and their classmates about what they are reading and other authors and genres.

    • Year 7 to Year 9 students begin each English lesson reading their own book for 10 minutes.

    • One form period a week is focused on reading. During this session, students have the opportunity to hear good reading modelled by the class teacher and then discuss the ideas and vocabulary in the text.
      • In Years 7 to 9, this is with a form reading book.

        • In Years 10 to 11, this is with a non-fiction text

    • One form period a week is focused on developing SEAL (Social Emotional Aspects of Learning). The librarian chooses an extract from a novel to help develop a discussion around a certain theme (this might be something like friendship or overcoming challenges). The form group use the extract to discuss the theme and also the vocabulary and ideas from the novel.

    • This year, literacy is our focus for teaching and learning development, each department is working to ensure that every time a text is used in class, the level of reading challenge has been considered and the opportunity to teach reading is maximised.

We also encourage all our staff to talk to students (and each other) about their reading to help keep building a whole school reading culture.

How do we know our students’ reading abilities and how do we help our less confident readers?

    • To helps us understand our students’ reading ability, we have purchased an online tool called Accelerated Reader.
      • KS3 students take a termly test online on Accelerated Reader. The test provides a lot of information about students’ reading ability. In particular, it provides a reading age.
      • We aim for all our students’ reading ages to match their own age. However, even if this does match when the student joins the school, if they do not keep up reading, we find that it will go backwards.
      • After a test, Accelerated Reader can suggest the level of challenge of books that a child should be reading (this is called their ZPD) and how much they need to read to keep making progress.

        • When a student finishes their reading book, they take the quiz. If they pass, the book goes towards meeting their target. There are rewards and celebrations for students completing their reading targets.

    • When students have a reading age below their actual age, there is support that we can put in place. These include:
      • Rapid Plus’ intervention
        • This takes place during the Reading for Pleasure lesson and is carried out by one of our Literacy Intervention Mentors.
      • ‘That Reading Thing’
        • This is a programme that has been developed in Manchester particularly for young people in secondary schools who are still significantly struggling with reading. This can occur at any point from year 7 to year 11. It involves very frequent sessions with one of the Literacy Intervention Mentors for a period of time and has been very successful so far.

        • ‘Peer Reading’
            • Some of our Year 10 Duke of Edinburgh Award students achieve their voluntary work by reading with students in a lower year group. This provides a bit more informal support and helps students learn from their peers.

    • New this year – we are trialling another online programme called ‘Bedrock’. This programme is designed to each students’ vocabulary. They learn the vocabulary through reading a text that contains some key words aimed at their ability. There are then activities to help learn and remember these words. We are currently trialling this with some year 7 and year 8 groups and all of year 11.

How can you help your child with their reading?

There are many ways that you can help with your child’s reading. These include:

    • Simply talking about reading
      • your experiences, books you’ve read, magazines you read, what you have to read at work, books that have inspired films or television programmes etc.

        • your child’s experiences – if they are in Year 7 and Year 8, ask them about Accelerated Reader. Can they tell you their reading age? What book are they reading at the moment? What are they reading in English or other subjects?

    • Try to encourage reading. Some of the questions our librarian asks students who are not sure what to read include:
      • What hobbies or interests do you have? She will then encourage them to find a book linked to this. For example, if a child says boxing, we might suggest they try ‘Becoming Muhammad Ali’ by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander.
      • What television programmes or films do you like? If they like a certain film, we might suggest the book that inspired it. If they like a certain type of programme, we might suggest books in that genre.

        • What magazines would interest you? Reading doesn’t have to just be books. There might be websites or magazines around your child’s interests.

    • Ask your child to show you AR Book Finder
        • If a student types in a book in Accelerated Reader Book Finder, they can find out whether that book is within their ZPD and how many points reading that book will help them gain towards their target. Get them to find out what level their current book is and how many words it contains.

    • Younger children may still be willing to read aloud to you, encourage them to show off the words they’ve learnt and how fluent they’ve become.

    • Older children coulddiscuss what they are reading – you might ask them:
      • What do they think of the characters and their choices?
      • What do they predict will happen next?

        • What do they think of the writing style?

You are always welcome to contact your child’s English teacher or the school librarian if you would like any advice on encourage reading.

There are some suggested book lists here:

Every conversation helps!

Reading Aims

As a result of the importance of reading, we have developed core goals that we aim to achieve as a whole school:

    • Students’ reading age should be their chronological reading age, or closing the gap.

    • Through explicit teaching of tier 3 and tier 2 vocabulary across the whole curriculum, students should be confident using a broad vocabulary with precision.

    • Students should have strategies to understand vocabulary that they are not familiar with and are resilient readers with challenging texts.

    • Reading questions and texts will not be a barrier to student success in examinations.

    • Students are confident selecting books for reading for pleasure.

    • Students’ cultural capital is developed through the breadth of their reading.

Further information

If you would like to know more detail about the development of our library space and the aims and goals for the future, please see here for our
librarian’s report 2022 – 2023

There is a link to our Learning Resource Centre page here