“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”
At Greenbank we aim to develop our girls’ reading skills, not only so that they will be able to fully access the curriculum but so that they will become life-long lovers of reading and literature.
Where do we start?
We assess all of our Year 7 girls using the ACCESS reading test scheme. This gives us an indication of their reading age/ability. All girls in years 7, 8 and 9 will also take part in the ‘Accelerated Reader’ scheme. This means that by the first half term in October, we have a reading age for every pupil in Key Stage 3. All staff are made aware of these ages so that they are able to differentiate reading material as is appropriate for each individual pupil.
On the strength of these tests, any girls who are thought to be struggling, will receive targeted intervention. This intervention could take a number of forms. Amongst other things, these could include:
- Intervention from their English teacher during ‘Library Lessons’
- Intervention from a reading specialist, who works with pupils on either a one to one or a small group basis
- Participation in the ‘Paired Reading’ scheme, where pupils will receive help and support from a reading mentor (usually one of our Year 9 Literacy Leaders)
What about unwilling readers?
We have developed a ‘reading culture’ at Greenbank; our well-stocked and well-used school library is testament to this. There are, of course, some girls who are reluctant readers and in an effort to encourage them to read (and to read a wider range of texts) we are using the ‘Accelerated Reader’ scheme to great effect. This scheme allows teachers to monitor what pupils are reading, how often they are reading and also how well they have understood the books they have read. The girls in years 7, 8 and 9 all have one library lesson a fortnight, where their English teacher can chat with them about their book choices, help them to choose books and, where necessary, hear them read. Accelerated Reader also features a target based reward system which has inspired many of our girls to read a lot more!
How do we share our love of reading?
We are very lucky at Greenbank that we do have a large number of pupils (and staff!) who love to read and we have ensured that this love of reading is shared with all pupils. Our Literacy Leaders develop reading lists (which are updated regularly) which feature not only classic titles but also more contemporary books that they have really enjoyed. These are available on the VLE, in the library and are shared with parents at parents’ evenings. We have also been looking at other ways to promote reading. One initiative we have launched this year is to put frames on the back of toilet doors. This has enabled us to place ‘Recommended Read’ posters in a position where the girls cannot fail to see them!
Any extra curricular events?
Here at Greenbank, we are great believers that learning does not take place solely inside the classroom. We ensure that reading is promoted in all lessons, including PDT sessions where the girls have two twenty minute slots a week allocated to reading, but we also focus on activities outside the classroom environment. Our ‘World Book Day’ extravaganza which takes place annually sees teachers and staff dressing up as characters from fiction and sharing their favourite books. Last year, amongst other activities, we even had a literature-inspired menu in the canteen. We have book swaps that take place, regular author visits and, as part of our enrichment programme, we run an ‘Enterprise’ day, where pupils develop an idea for their own treatment of a novel. As well as this we have book clubs for our more able/ambitious readers.
As the American journalist Margaret Fuller famously said “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Here at Greenbank, we couldn’t agree more. Reading equips the girls with the tools to question the world they see around them and it truly is at the very centre of our mission to ‘Inspire, Care and Achieve’.