Teaching of Reading

Almost without exception, students attending TGA have a reading comprehension age significantly below their chronological age. This is a barrier to learning across the curriculum and so it is essential that it is tackled across the curriculum. All staff are responsible for supporting student literacy and helping to develop their basic skills. Our aim is to improve reading resilience, enable students to experience a range of text types, cultivate a love of reading and, perhaps most importantly, to improve the reading comprehension skills of our students.

Each student in year 7-10 follows the online ‘Accelerated Reading’ programme. ‘Accelerated Reading’ is a differentiated scheme which assesses students’ understanding of each text they read with a bank of exercises and quizzes. ‘Accelerated Reading’ runs in ‘Literacy-Reading’ lessons which focus on group reading but has scope for students to be independent when they are ready. The programme is also used by tutors in form time. Cumulatively, students should undertake a minimum 1 hour of dedicated reading time per week.

The programme begins with a multiple choice comprehension ‘STAR test’ to establish the appropriate ATOS reading level range for the student (known as the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’). Students are then guided by staff to an appropriate level text but in the first instance any text which engages the student is often the best choice. Students complete an online comprehension quiz on each text they finish which is all recorded on the programme. Ideally, students should read as a group as there is usually overlap between student ZPDs so a text can be chosen that challenges everyone. However, if a student is particularly weak (with a ZPD starting below level 3) then one-to-one withdrawal lessons can be arranged. Termly testing on the programme provides a formal measure of progress. A ‘Scaled Score’ and a ‘Reading Age’ is generated for each student by each test and this will result in a change in their ZPD. The SS and RA are recorded on the English data tracker.

The library is always being updated but currently has over 280 titles in stock as class sets, many of which are dyslexia friendly and most of which are ‘short reads.’ Book levels range from 1 to 12 but the majority are between levels 2 and 5 which reflects the average ZPD of our students. All class sets are shelved according to their level whilst single copies of texts are categorised according to genre. The library also stocks magazines and the student weekly newspaper ‘First News’. Star stickers are used as an additional reward system for student efforts in reading. Each student has a folder containing a simple, paper ‘Reading record’ which is kept in the library area.

In addition to the ‘Accelerated Reading’ programme, students who are identified as very weak in their reading fluency and word recognition skills may also be offered one-to-one support using the ‘Units of Sound’ software. This intervention is a structured, cumulative, multisensory programme that teaches literacy skills to students of all ages from 7 through to adult.