Reading at Rye Hills

The importance of reading in secondary school cannot be underestimated. Reading not only supports academic success, but it builds self-efficacy in pupils, as well as supporting their mental health and wellbeing. At Rye Hills, we aim to develop confident, articulate readers and foster a lifelong love of reading. Reading, therefore, permeates our curricular and wider curriculum offer and we are committed to ensuring that no students are left behind.

A ‘reading-rich curriculum’, supported by high-quality teaching of reading:

Reading remains a crucial skill throughout secondary school: it is the gateway to both the curriculum and academic success. The stronger the reader a pupil is, the more likely they are to attain strong grades in all subjects (not just English) at GCSE and beyond. Here at Rye Hills, we recognise – and promote – that reading is the curriculum. 

Our ambitious curriculum is mediated through equally ambitious texts and our pupils are enabled to ‘read to learn’ as they begin their secondary journey in Key Stage 3. Curriculum leaders across the Trust have collaborated to integrate a range of rich, purposeful texts with the aim of:

  • bringing their subject disciplines to life
  • enhancing and deepening pupils’ knowledge of the subject studied
  • developing the breadth of background knowledge and cultural capital needed for wider/full curriculum access.

We take our commitment to our ‘reading-rich’ curriculum seriously. With this in mind, ‘reading for knowledge’ is a core strand of our professional development offer, including: 

  • reading to learn: why reading is required to access knowledge and the importance of prior knowledge in when reading
  • disciplinary reading (how to read effectively in specific subject disciplines)
  • anticipating – and overcoming - barriers for pupils in texts 
  • oracy – and language – to support reading
  • explicit vocabulary instruction
  • strategies to develop reading fluency.

Language development underpins reading. That’s why effective oracy is a cornerstone of our teaching. Teachers encourage pupils to express their ideas across the subject range, using taught vocabulary, to deepen their understanding of the subject as well as develop their confidence in language use. 

Further, all Key Stage 3 pupils received a weekly or fortnightly reading lesson in English, designed to enable them all to become fluent – and well informed - readers. This lesson explores a range of rich texts with a focus on modes of repeated reading for fluency and knowledge enhancement.  This is supported by a wider cross-discipline KS3 reading homework offer, making use of Microsoft Teams Progress Reader, as well as our registration programme for all pupils. 

Interventions and support for struggling readers:

At Rye Hills, we understand the critical role that reading plays in our pupils' academic success. We recognise that when pupils struggle with reading, it can have a profound impact on their ability to comprehend and engage with texts across all subjects, and the curriculum as a whole. We work closely with our Trust Research School, who are experts in the fields of reading, assessment and interventions, and lead work on these areas nationally and regionally.

Assessment of pupils’ reading follows a staged process: 

  1. Pupils are assessed using NGRT standardised reading assessments. This data provides a starting point for analysis to identify the lowest quintile of the cohort.
  2. Pupils identified undertake a one-to-one diagnostic reading assessment, led by the Research School. Our diagnostic assessments are designed to pinpoint the specific aspects of reading that each pupil finds challenging across four key areas: phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension. Purposeful assessment and precision underpin everything we do. 
  3. For the very few pupils who need more in-depth diagnostic assessment, such as detailed phonics assessment or suspected speech and language issues, we refer to our Primary Executive Headteacher or SENDCo. 
  4. Once pupils’ reading issues have been identified, we carefully match pupils to the interventions they need. Reading interventions take place during registration and are delivered by a trained teaching assistant, peer tutor or teacher. All interventions are quality assured to ensure they are led with fidelity. 
  1. Interventions are carefully quality-assured and evaluated using GL standardised tests and other appropriate measures, such as accurate words per minute counts or fluency rubric scorings. 

Eyesight can be a common unidentified issue that hinders reading. More recently, to support reading and any interventions we offer, we have led visual acuity screening for our whole Year 7 cohort. This process involves: 

  1. Asking parents if their child wears – or has ever worn – glasses, as well as their consent to screening.
  2. Screening pupils using our Trust Research School designed process to identify those who may benefit from an eye test. As well as visual acuity screening, this process involves asking pupils if they struggle to see the board in any lessons and if they experience any common indicators of vision problems, such as headaches. 
  3. Pastoral staff contacting parents to advise them to take their child for an eye test, and then following up results. 
  4. Disseminating key information with staff.
  1. Building what we have learned into our quality assurance procedures so we can check that those pupils who should be wearing glasses, are wearing them. 

At Rye Hills, we are committed to helping every pupil become a successful reader. We seek to innovate by designing precise and efficient diagnostic assessments to identify pupils’ needs in different areas of reading and eliminating common barriers such as vision. Doing so allows us to provide the personalised support necessary to help our pupils overcome their challenges and unlock their full potential as readers and learners.

Developing a whole-school culture of reading: 
Reading plays a key role in cultivating pupils’ learning, their personal development and their understanding of the subjects they study. As they prepare for the crucial exams that will shape their future paths, we strongly encourage all pupils to read widely to expand their vocabulary, hone their writing skills, and enhance their language and communication abilities. Engaging with a diverse range of texts from various authors and genres will support our pupils to develop into confident, articulate, and knowledgeable communicators.

Reading is more than the gateway to knowledge and understanding; it plays a vital role in fostering pupils' social and cultural capital. Wide reading exposes young people to new ideas and experiences, encouraging them to develop empathy for people and characters from diverse backgrounds. Further, it supports pupils to discover intriguing and inspiring characters, relatable plots and genres that they love; ultimately, it fosters the lifelong passion for reading that we regard as an entitlement for all.

That’s why, at Rye Hills, we are committed to celebrating and promoting a love for reading among our pupils. We never miss an opportunity to promote reading, be it ‘World Book Day’; Reading Rocks Week’; regular whole-school reading challenges; our relaunch of library is coming soon; projects with our local library and BorrowBox, subject reading lists; lists of great texts everyone should read; involving parents or extra-curricular opportunities. We hope that by immersing themselves in the world of books, our pupils will enhance their academic performance, broaden their horizons, develop into well-rounded, confident young people and become lifelong lovers of reading.