At Tudor Grange Redditch we place reading at the forefront of our education: first thing in the morning, every day. Not being able to read to your correct age means that you struggle much more just attempting to understand what is being said and written, and when you consider that only 59% of pupils leaving primary school reached the expected level for reading in 2022, it is clear that many of those pupils will struggle to access the secondary school curriculum.
At Tudor Grange Academy Redditch, we are aspirational for every single child that is in our care, and we understand what is required to improve the reading ages of all our pupils: we are taking the necessary action to make sure this happens. After analysing reading assessments, we now realise that a pressing concern is ensuring that all students in the academy should be able to read to their chronological age as a bare minimum because reading is an integral skill, needed to interact with others throughout their lives. We want so much for all of the young people that attend TGAR to achieve personal growth, happiness and accumulation of useful knowledge for their future life; we also want to ensure that they have a voice and meaning to their adult professional life. This starts in the home, the classroom, and with the way in which they understand the world around them.
As teachers, we are expert readers, through our own study we understand the demand of independent reading to learn. Our pupils are novice readers – no matter what their current reading level, we have a responsibility to help them progress. English is the language of all of our subjects. For pupils to be able to progress as learners throughout their lives, they need to be able to read to learn – and increasingly difficult texts.
We at TGAR, centre all of our practices around research. To become experts, we must listen to experts. When approaching the science of reading, we have made great steps in reading, researching, testing, and discussing the best approaches for our children. This research has led to a plan to enable all students in the academy to read every day, with a variety of texts, and to enable them to have a specific reading lesson.
Research analysis comparing the engaged reading time of 2.2 million students found that – 0-5 mins per day = well below national average 5-14 mins per day = sluggish gains, below national average 15+ mins = accelerated reading gains 20 mins per day = likely score better than 90% of their peers on standardized tests.
National Centre for Education Statistics
To this end, we begin every day with reading. The school opens at 8.50 am and after a brief 20 minutes with their tutor, students move to their reading group where specific reading knowledge is developed in small groups with texts targeted to each child’s reading ability. Each of the groups have been formed based on tests we have carried out that tell us the current reading ages. We have the following groups:
Each morning in the reading lesson, the children will be read part of a novel by the teacher. At specific points there will be work on vocabulary that helps understanding of what is about to be read. Where appropriate, other activities will be introduced to help the children to understand, contextualise and say individual words. Each of the groups is designed to address a certain skill that some children need to relearn or simply become better at. As you will appreciate, understanding and developing the vocabulary knowledge of students, is vital in helping them to understand the challenging texts we are offering.
What role do parents have to play?
Without parents this won’t work; it is quite that simple.
We really want the children in our care to value reading as they value an excellent education, the need to achieve highly and receive high quality qualifications. It would be helpful for parents to ensure that they are being as effective as possible in helping our students to make the most of this opportunity.
- Talk to your child about their reading. Ask them what it is about, what they find interesting about it and what new words they have learnt. They take their cues about everything from the adults in their life.
- Talk about reading. If you don’t read regularly, think carefully about creating a routine where you and your children read. Routine helps everything work. Just before bed works brilliantly, to help children become calm and relaxed and get a good night’s sleep. If you would like to speak to a member of staff about reading material or where to start, please get in touch.
- Like starting any routine, it is about creating a habit. Habits work well when they are consistent but not too demanding. Start small and build. What is the one day a week that you can call your reading day?
- Reading is everywhere, take advantage. At the supermarket, sat in traffic, subtitles on a film; parents are the real-world teachers of language.
- Keep in touch. We are here to help you. Contact a member of the reading team with any queries about the reading lesson, recommendations on texts, or anything else on your mind.
The research has shown us as a learning community, the link between motivation and reading ability is integral for children. This is an excellent opportunity to congratulate, reward and encourage your children on their reading and vocabulary work.
I am extremely passionate about this project and know that with pupils and parents fully on board, it is certain to be a success. If you require any further information or have any questions on reading, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org For enquiries about the library and books, please contact the librarian Mrs Billingham on email@example.com
Head of Sixth Form and Teaching and learning lead