At Ark Putney Academy, we prioritise reading in every classroom. By promoting reading across the full curriculum spectrum, we equip students to read fluently and comprehend texts in every subject discipline. It is crucial that we nurture fluent readers who can independently comprehend a wide range of texts in order for them to successfully acquire knowledge and be successful in future learning. The skills involved in reading, comprehending and interpreting a text in the classroom – which involves self-reflection, discussion and navigating a divergence of opinions and interpretations – also develops students’ empathy, tolerance and self-awareness.
Our reading across the curriculum strategy is founded upon the following five principles:
- Reading is the pathway to learning – Reading is the key to unlocking the curriculum for students. Students are trained to read as historians, scientists, geographers and mathematicians, so that they can progressively build stamina for reading challenging, academic texts in the future.
- Background knowledge matters – The reading students undertake in school is typically more complex than other forms and requires substantial background knowledge. Through pre-reading tasks, teachers equip students with background knowledge to aid their reading and comprehension.
- Fluency aids comprehension – Reading with expression and accuracy contribute towards reading comprehension. Providing students with opportunities to read aloud in the classroom allows teachers to support students to develop fluency.
- 'Accountable Independent Reading' is a tool for life – Teachers support students to read texts for meaning by providing them with questions and tasks that support their comprehension, encourage ‘active’ reading habits and equip them to independently tackle challenging texts later in life.
- Able readers read more independently – Children’s reading ability determines how much they read. As teachers, we are committed to delivering high quality reading provision; if we can improve the teaching of reading, then we are likely to increase how much our students read for pleasure and engage in our subjects.
As part of our goal to develop students as fluent readers who can comprehend texts at or above their chronological reading age, staff use a range of strategies, such as:
- 'Teacher Read Aloud' – to develop and model fluent and expressive reading
- An Accountable Independent Reading toolkit – for comprehension which incorporates the reciprocal reading strategies of clarifying, questioning, summarising and predicting
- 'Control the Game' – a data driven approach to reading where the teacher selects students to read aloud to develop fluent and expressive reading
- 'Hear, See, Say' and 'Speed Words' – to build student fluency and aid comprehension
- Implicit and explicit vocabulary instruction
All students complete the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) at the start of the academic year. Staff use the results to identify the reading ability of each student they teach and to inform how they support students with reading in their subject. Students who are working 2+ years below their chronological reading age level in Years 9 and 10 complete Lexia, a digital reading intervention programme that develops students’ comprehension skills. We use the following programmes to support students to catch up on their literacy levels: Fresh Start, Expressive Writing and the LIT programme.
Our work on reading in the classroom is fully supported through our tutor and PSHE programme, our book club programme and our reading interventions programme.
All students have one tutor time per week dedicated to reading for pleasure. These sessions are focussed around diversity in literature to build cultural understanding and explore different attitudes and perspectives. In Year 7 students read Face by Benjamin Zephaniah; in Year 8 students read Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah; in Year 9 students read Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle; in Year 10 students read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; in Year 11 students read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
Finally, as part of our significant commitment to reading as a life-long skill for our students, we encourage them to make reading for pleasure a habit outside of school.