At Woodroffe, we strongly believe that reading for pleasure fundamentally fosters a love of learning – so much so, that Reading is a timetabled lesson. Evidence suggests that those who regularly read for enjoyment develop a wide vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a greater sense of empathy and understanding of other cultures than those who do not. Furthermore, increases in reading ability allow students to better access all areas of the curriculum.
Literacy in the Wider School
All teachers at Woodroffe are teachers of literacy and Reading, regardless of their subject areas. We are a school that very much promotes a reading culture and ethos – and are rightly proud of the ways in which a high standard of reading, writing, speaking and listening are promoted across the curriculum.
Each tutor room has a tutor library, containing a large selection of books for use during the silent reading slot each week during tutor time. These texts are updated each year as students move up through the school (and we are always happy to receive donations of books!). In addition to this, Year 7 and 8 tutor groups have class reader sets for whole class reading during tutor time once a fortnight.
Across the school, teachers use classroom displays to make literacy visible: key word lists are evident, new vocabulary is modelled in context, study skills and learning habits are shown and explained. Teachers consistently make learners aware of the literacy skills used in each specific subject, and students see these skills as transferable across the curriculum.
All teachers – and peers – mark writing according to the Woodroffe School Literacy marking code. This consistent approach allows students to see patterns in the errors they make across the curriculum, and enables them to see literacy as something that is not restricted to English lessons.
Whilst for some, progress in literacy looks like understanding basic sentence structure, or increasingly fluently decoding words, for others this progress looks like mastering the use of the slippery semi-colon and evaluating challenging texts independently. Regardless, our aim is to primarily foster a love of reading and writing in all Woodroffe students, enabling them to become accurate and creative users of language in a range of different contexts.
Assessments and Homework
There are no assessments in Reading and literacy, though there are standardised reading comprehension and spelling age tests at the beginning and end of Year 7. The low-stakes Accelerated Reader quizzes are used to consolidate understanding of books and to earn points for inter-tutor competitions throughout the year.
Woodroffe students are expected to read for enjoyment for 20 minutes a day. Often, this is facilitated in tutor time, or Reading lessons, but also is the consistent Reading homework.
Year 7 Reading lessons take place in English classrooms, where there is always plenty of choice of individual reading material to accompany the whole class readers.
Students also spend one of their Reading lessons a fortnight in the well-equipped and inviting library. Here, pupils primarily spend the hour reading independently for pleasure, or choosing a new text to read; they also might meet with their Peer Reading Sixth Form mentor, or may complete an Accelerated Reader quiz on a text they have studied in order to win points for their tutor group.
Mr Waters, the main school librarian, is always on hand to suggest a wide array of fiction and non-fiction texts, and to order in new books as well as arrange fun reading related events throughout the year (such as spin the poetry wheel, Carnegie book shadowing, streamed author talks…).
Students can borrow a huge range of books, and are able to use the library at break time, lunch time and after school every Tuesday and Thursday until 5pm.
The Key Stage 3 recommending reading list is by no means exhaustive!
Students spend two hours a week reading in a variety of ways: independently, having chosen their own material for enjoyment, in pairs, with a Sixth Form buddy, in small groups, reading a carousel of texts, or in a whole class setting, with everyone reading the same book. Unlike English, students are set for Reading lessons, based on entry test data and reading SATS levels. There is fluid movement between sets. The Reading Recovery groups have no more than 15 students.
Year 8 and 9
We also offer additional literacy intervention in Years 8 and 9. Students with lower levels of literacy still have Reading as a timetabled subject, often in place of a Modern Foreign Language; these lessons take place in the library and involve independent and whole group reading as well as individual Accelerated Reader quizzes. Students with the highest reading levels in Year 8 and 9 are invited to join the Extended Reader groups: students independently read challenging texts away from school and spend the fortnightly lesson discussing the novels’ craft, interpretations and implications.
The Key Stage 4 reading list is by no means exhaustive!
The Key Stage 5 reading list is by no means exhaustive!
Woodroffe is also incredibly lucky to have a dedicated Sixth Form library, run by Mrs Cropp. She is always on hand to offer reading suggestions, advice on study skills, editing personal statements, honing essays… the list goes on!