Whole School Ethos
We are a ‘reading school’ that aims to foster a love of reading for learning and pleasure. Reading is therefore a key school priority and is a focus of whole school professional development, individual classroom lessons and bespoke intervention programmes for students.
We want all of our students to achieve their full potential, as without reading skills, students often struggle to catch up and access the secondary curriculum, including final GCSE exams. This makes reading catch-up a priority.
On Transition Day, Year 6 students have a reading age assessment which allows us to know who requires additional reading support as soon as they join us. Those who need it, follow a systematic synthetic phonics catch-up and intervention programme (Fresh Start Read Write Inc).
If students have a good grasp of decoding but need additional comprehension support, they are selected for Reciprocal Reading intervention groups, where students read texts in small groups to aid their understanding of what they read.
In Year 8 students may continue with the Fresh Start Read Write Inc programme or Reciprocal Reading groups if required. We also provide an after school reading group for 12 students on a Wednesday for our lowest ability readers who are paired with Learning Support Assistants and Year 10 Reading Ambassadors to provide support.
On Wednesday afternoons the library becomes a dedicated reading space for Year 8 reading intervention, where readers requiring additional support are paired with Learning Support Assistants and Year 10 Reading Ambassadors. It also provides a space for reading catch up or just somewhere quiet to read and / or quiz.
As students requiring reading intervention move into Year 9, they may be selected to read twice a week with a Learning Support Assistant during form time or take part in the Fix It Reading programme run by our Academic Mentor.
Fostering a love of reading
During Year 6 Transition Week, all students are given a copy of a brand new book which is accompanied by a handwritten note from a Year 7 student and a hand drawn bookmark from a Year 8 student, welcoming them to Belmont. They then complete an activity linked to the book in their English transition lesson. Students are also encouraged to take part in the summer reading challenge, where they complete a range of creative, engaging activities linked to their reading of the book. Merits and prizes are used to reward students for their efforts, with transition activities culminating with a visit from the author of the novel for a presentation and Q&A session in their first half term.
All Year 7 and 8 students take part in Accelerated Reader, with English teachers, Teaching Assistants and our Librarian on hand to provide additional support using whole class read throughs, small group reading and fluency practice.
In order to maximise reading for pleasure, students who consistently read at a high level can ‘graduate’ from the Accelerated Reader programme, giving them more autonomy over their choice of books (including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, magazines and newspapers) without having to complete a comprehension quiz.
As all students ‘graduate’ from Accelerated Reader at the end of Year 8, students in Year 9 are given a half termly library lesson, where our Librarian collates a wide range of texts directly related to the class’ interests, hobbies and preferred genres or authors, for the class to enjoy for a lesson.
A list of ‘recommended reads’ has been put together for students to read around their subjects where they have particular interests. This is available on the school website here.
Staff training and development
Teaching staff have looked at how they can support students to read using five identified reading comprehension strategies as part of their professional development:
- Assessing prior knowledge
Reading resources for parents & carers