Reading is a priority at Fairfield, within the curriculum and beyond. It improves our pupils’ literacy, learning of the curriculum and personal development. Quite simply, it provides them with the tools to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. At Fairfield, we believe that improving pupils’ ability to read is the responsibility of every teacher, and therefore it is embedded throughout the Fairfield curriculum in every subject, not just in the English curriculum.
Reading for pleasure supports our pupils’ mental health and increases emotional intelligence. It improves wellbeing and has been found to develop pupils’ confidence, ability to relax, self-esteem and aid their sleep. Reading can improve concentration and memory – the building blocks of learning. It helps keep the brain active, creating mental simulations of the activities, sights and sounds of scenes in a story, blending these with our own memories and experiences, all of which stimulate the neural pathways.
Pupils’ reading ability supports their progress across the curriculum, as well as their writing and oracy skills. Pupils improve their ability to recognise words, sentence structures and understanding of what is being read. The more that pupils read, the more familiar they become with the rules of grammar and the better their vocabulary becomes as they learn new words and phrases. When pupils are reading, they are broadening their understanding of the world. It is a gateway to new knowledge, from the Napoleonic Wars within War and Peace to the Victorian workhouses of Oliver Twist. Reading builds our pupils’ knowledge and cultural capital.
Our recent Ofsted inspection (December 2022) recognised the outstanding provision for reading at Fairfield.
Each year we assess all pupils in Year 7 to 11 for their reading skills using the online, standardised testing programme, NGRT (GL Assessment). This gives teachers and leaders a picture of pupils’ reading abilities and an understanding of which pupils might need reading support throughout their curriculum. The reading assessments allow us to ensure that pupils of all reading abilities are appropriately supported and challenged to achieve the best outcomes across the curriculum. The results of these assessments are shared with parents/carers so that they are fully informed about progress with reading.
We offer a range of evidence-based, effective reading intervention programmes to pupils in Year 7 to 11. The reading assessments identify pupils’ individual needs and inform which intervention is appropriate. Programmes implemented at Fairfield include Lexonic Advance, delivered by our Academic Mentor. This intervention is proven to make immediate, significant and sustainable progress for pupils of any age. This improves pupils’ phonological awareness, automaticity, vocabulary and comprehension.
Our Student Support Faculty deliver a range of reading interventions, for example, Guided Reading (Badger Reading Books), Ruth Miskin Fresh Start phonics, inference training, IDL and ELC Step Up To English. Across school we also run the Reading Partners Programme and support pupils with EAL through access to Learning Village. Throughout these interventions, pupils will be assessed again to check that progress with reading is being made.
A major focus of the professional development at Fairfield is on literacy and, in particular, reading. Teachers at Fairfield use strategies to support reading across the curriculum. All teachers have access to the data about the reading abilities of each pupil they teach and will use this to support them effectively. In lessons, teachers will regularly implement reading fluency strategies and support pupils with reading comprehension. This is to help them to become better readers and to improve their ability to learn the curriculum.
The ‘Reading Partners’ Programme is a new initiative in which Year 7 and Year 8 pupils are paired with Year 9 and Year 10 Reading Mentors. Reading Mentors have been trained to support our Year 7 and 8 pupils with reading fluency and comprehension. Sessions take place once a week in the library during afternoon registration.
All pupils at Fairfield can access a wide range of books in the school library. Pupils also have a subscription to SORA, our online library, with access to thousands of electronic titles and audio books. Our School Library is available to pupils from 7:30-8:00am, breaktime and lunchtime every day. Pupils in Year 7-9 access the library once a fortnight during their Library lessons as part of the KS3 English Curriculum. The school librarian or their English teacher can help pupils make suitable selections. We are implementing a colour-coded system that will help pupils and their teachers to identify appropriately accessible and challenging books for their reading level.
Reading is a core feature of the Fairfield Form Time Curriculum. Pupils in all year groups complete a variety of form time reading activities. This includes Personal Development reading tasks, a Shared Reading activity with Form Tutors and independent reading and book review activities. This programme of regular reading supports the reading that takes place in English lessons and across the entire Fairfield curriculum.
Reading is continually promoted across school, led by our English Faculty. Events such as World Book Day, the Year 7 Harry Potter Evening, trips to John Rylands Library and Stratford-upon-Avon being examples of when we advocate to all pupils the joy and pleasure of reading. There are many reading for pleasure opportunities embedded into lessons within English curriculum with regular home learning reading opportunities. The Blue Shirt Book Club, run by the English Faculty, is exclusively for our Year 10 and Year 11 pupils, with titles chosen by pupils to encourage reading with older pupils.
We very much encourage pupils to continue reading at home – we know that many parents/carers already do this. Reading can be a relaxing and pleasurable pastime that can help pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. As a parent you can play an important role in encouraging and supporting your child to read at home by encouraging them to read regularly, ideally every day, and asking them about what they are reading and if they can predict what they think may happen. Reading to and with your child at home, as much as you can, also has a huge impact.