We want all of our students to be excellent communicators, helping them interact with the world around them. It is therefore vital that they are taught the skills of effective reading, writing and speaking.
Literacy is foundational for success in school and later life. Students who cannot read, write and communicate effectively are highly unlikely to access the challenging academic curriculum in secondary school and more likely to have poor educational outcomes across all subjects.
The skills of literacy are used in every subject and activity in school and as such are a priority for all areas of school life. With good levels of literacy, we unlock the curriculum and provide a foundation for excellence in all subjects, giving our students the experiences and opportunities to be the best they can be.  Rickets, J., Sperring, R and Nation, K. (2014). ‘Educational attainment in poor comprehenders’. Frontiers in Psychology, 5. P. 445
Reading to Learn
Reading is a critical way to gain knowledge across education and within many careers. Since we teach from booklets, all students read extensively every day. To support all students succeed in reading and learning from booklets, teaching staff are regularly trained in reading instruction. All staff are ‘teachers of reading’ and feel confident in deploying a range of strategies to consistently support all students access and learn from texts. These include teachers frequently reading aloud to their classes, supporting students to read aloud, facilitating independent reading, using strategies to support comprehension, supporting decoding and pronunciation, and vocabulary instruction. Our KS3 English homework further develops students’ reading and vocabulary, using Sparx Reader and Bedrock online platforms.
Whilst all students benefit from our whole-school reading curriculum, some students require targeted reading support that cannot be provided in their normal classroom. These students are identified via our NGRT assessments in Y7 and 8, corroborated with qualitative measures such as DEAR tutor feedback, and further diagnostic testing. NGRT data is shared with all teaching staff to further inform reading instruction in the classroom. We have a wide range of high-quality interventions in place, delivered by specialist staff, to support all of our students to be proficient readers:
• Direct Instruction: Explicit, intensive, consistent, and interactive small-group sessions, 3 times a week. Targeted at Y7 students to rapidly catch up with phonics, decoding and reading fluency.
• Thinking Reading and Lexonik Leap: Intensive 1-1 interventions, 3+ times a week, for students with significant reading difficulties. Focus on phonological knowledge, decoding and building fluency.
• Lexonik Advance: Small group (4), 6-week intervention, targeted at Y8 and 9 students who require extra support with reading. Focuses on phonological knowledge, decoding, fluency and vocabulary knowledge.
• Paired Reading Programme: 1-1 weekly reading support offered by trained staff members and United Sixth Formers. Targeted at Y8 students who would benefit from additional reading support. Up to 50 Y8 students a year can benefit from the Paired Reading Programme. Students read books together with their reading mentor, receiving personalised support on their pronunciation and expression. Focuses on fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading can transport us to new places, expose us to new ideas and take us on exciting adventures. Alongside reading to learn, reading for pleasure prepares our students to become lifelong readers.
• DEAR: Students enjoy ending each day with reading, with our daily ‘Drop Everything And Read’ session in Y7-10 with their tutors. This exposes all students to classic texts they may not otherwise have read. Tutors also instruct vocabulary and support all students’ reading and comprehension with reading instruction strategies.
Why do we do DEAR?
Library: Students regularly visit our newly refurbished library every lunchtime- a calmly thriving hub of activity. Books are regularly borrowed by over 100 students, both for pleasure and to support their academics. All Key Stage 3 students have library lessons once a fortnight, reading a contemporary text together as a class. Y11 library prefects support staff to run our library.
• Book Vending Machines: Students selected once a term to receive a book of their choosing as a reward for displaying exemplary behaviours.
In line with Rosenshine’s Principles, complex writing tasks are broken down, explicitly instructed and scaffolded to support all students improve in their writing. Writing is also instructed at a sentence level, with staff trained in strategies from Hochman and Wexler’s The Writing Revolution to enable students to deliberately practice the building blocks of academic writing. Teachers use visualisers to model what excellent writing looks like in their subject and to show-call model work from students. Teachers frequently circulate in lessons to monitor and support independent writing practice, identifying common literacy misconceptions to address during whole-class feedback.
At Avonbourne, we recognise the importance of developing students' ability to communicate verbally and participate meaningfully in discourse. We utilise structured classroom discussion with the purpose of developing students’ capabilities, skills and expanding their understanding—both shared and individual—of specific concepts and instructional goals. In lessons across the curriculum, oracy is used to foster critical thinking, help students to understand others and encourage open-mindedness. Students learn how to speak formally with others, share their opinions in a safe and structured way, respectfully analyse and debate other points of view and collaborate with others.