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At St. Bede’s, we know that good literacy skills across the school curriculum enable pupils to communicate effectively. They allow students to become more confident in their own abilities as learners and allow each child to develop their particular skills to the highest level possible.

We recognise the importance reading has on a child’s progress in school and for their future achievements and aspirations. This is why we are dedicated to developing the reading ability of all students – regardless of their starting point. We aim to ensure that our students can not only read fluently, but can also comprehend the text in front of them as we know this is vital when unlocking their potential in all subjects. Through our reading strategies, we hope to inspire a love of reading in students which will generate a deeper schema which pupils can use to make connections in their learning as well to provide a greater understanding and use of vocabulary.

Strategy Insight

  • Each department has a dedicated Literacy Link who works collaboratively with our Literacy Coordinator and drives Literacy within their department
  • We prioritise termly SDS on Literacy for ongoing staff training: Bespoke SDS is offered by the Literacy Coordinator to all departments to support with reading strategies and introducing new vocabulary. This includes support and training on the teaching of extended written responses across the curriculum where the Literacy Coordinator works collaboratively with subjects to ensure the progression and development students’ extended writing.
  • “St. Bede’s Actively Reads” is our shared Literacy approach for consistency, which includes:
  • RID Vocabulary Strategy (Read, Identify, Define when accessing extended texts)
  • VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explaining, Retrieval, Sequence / Summarise)
  • Read Like a… (Resources & Support Criteria devised by Literacy Links)
  • Departments utilise a range of reading strategies, as per the ‘St Bede’s Actively Reads’ strategy, including linking to prior knowledge, annotating and reforming the text
  • Across the curriculum, students are exposed regularly to the sound of reading, through teachers reading aloud to model fluency and prosody
  • Teachers in all subjects prioritise the teaching of key vocabulary
  • Our Literacy Coordinator communicates with feeder schools to extend knowledge of reading journey & literacy provision at KS2 to support transition further
  • Reading is embedded in department mapping of curricula: Differentiated learning is present throughout the curriculum; pupils access Literacy through the study of: Reading, Oracy & Vocabulary which is differentiated for the individual needs of each class

Developing a Love of Reading during Prep Time

To develop a love of reading amongst pupils, each year group read the same novel, at the same time during prep time. We want pupils to experience texts that provide a variety of classic culture, fantasy and topical issues.

Our Prep Time Reading Program aims to provide pupils with a positive experience of reading whilst developing comprehension skills using the VIPERS’ Scaffolding structures and extending vocabulary.

7 ‘Women of the Skies’ – Extract Booklet

When The Sky Falls – Phil Earle

8 ‘Countries around the world’ – Extract Booklet

Windrush Child – Benjamin Zephaniah

9 The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
10 Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
11 Core Subject Intervention


This program will give students an insight into different worlds, beliefs and cultures that they may not necessarily experience themselves. Prep tutors model good reading as well as ask questions and encourage discussions on the characters and events within the novels.

Our vision is driven by the notion that students will be discussing these texts with their peers and with you at home. We also hope that these novels will instil a love of reading with our students and inspire them to continue their reading journey once they have left school.

Encouraging Wider Reading & The Taylor Library

At St. Bede’s, we aim for a culture where reading is championed, valued, respected and encouraged. Reading is embedded across our curriculum and we collectively recognise its central role in our students’ personal, social and academic success, as well as their overall wellbeing. We are reading advocates and model the value of reading in all aspects of learning and life beyond St. Bede’s.

Strategy Insight

  • We have a shared Reading Journey using St. Bede’s Reads’ Reading Platform via Padlet:
  • Students are actively encouraged to visit our school Library and regularly change their books; it has a rich and varied up-to-date supply of texts.
  • Reading Assemblies are delivered by our Literacy Coordinator (advertising Library, advocating the importance of reading and supporting reading)
  • Our student led School Literary Magazine celebrates students’ literary skills
  • We build vocabulary through differentiated word of the work, this planned, shared and monitored by Literacy Coordinator.
  • Extra Curricula Reading Journey has been devised and shared with students
  • KS3 Book Hunt: Pupils use inference skills to look at book covers and guess book titles (all on Curriculum Reading Journey)
  • We stretch our most able readers with extra curricula experiences such as the recent KS4 Reading focus session at Cardinal Newman
  • We annually welcome Scholastics’ Book Fair Visits
  • We continuously drive department Competitions (such as Design a Book Cover, Pen Pals with Local Care Home, ‘Read around the School’, Get Caught Reading, Golden Ticket Hunt to interest KS4 in a wider range of reading)
  • Our Library is a dedicated personal study & revision area whilst remaining a quiet space for independent reading
  • We have a dedicated team of trained Student Librarians who lead our Library Provision. Our Student Librarians are supported by Staff volunteers who supervise in library at lunchtime
  • Reading successes & suggestions shared on our Department Instagram: @stbedesblackburnenglish
  • We have a School Reading Recycling Strategy – books are annually donated by our past students

Supporting our Weakest Readers

Whilst all our readers are supported, regardless of their starting point, we recognise the additional support some learners essentially need to ensure they can access the curriculum effectively. We aim to remove barriers by identifying individual needs and closing potential gaps with planned, purposeful and measured strategies.

Strategy Insight

  • Reading Age Tests are undertaken across the year groups & shared across all departments (Whole Staff Training on usage is undertaken by Literacy Lead & driven by departmental Literacy Links)
  • Weakest Readers are identified and further diagnostic testing is undertaken
  • Intervention for Y7 & 8 Weakest Readers takes place weekly during Prep time using ReadingWise software package (evidence-based programme for those who have struggled to learn to read) with a trained reading HLTA
  • Target groups undertake phonics and letter intervention
  • To reflect the changing picture post pandemic, Reading Scaffolding training is undertaken to ensure support for weakest readers in Y9-11 during curriculum time
  • Clear literacy progression pathways are embedded across all curriculum areas and students are aware of strength, areas for improvement and actions needed to support in their Literacy journey
  • Reading Intervention takes place in our school Learning Hub using the ReadingWise Software Package and is implemented by our Learning Hub Academic Leader
  • Additional English lesson in Years 7 & 8 meaning students now have 7 hours of English per fortnight
  • Students experience a dedicated Literacy Lesson in Y7
  • Vocabulary Building is embedded in our Differentiated word of the week strategy
  • Weakest readers are targeted in NTP curriculum withdrawal intervention strategy

How can Reading be Supported at Home?

In order to improve their reading ability, students need to read regularly. We encourage parents/carers to also play an important role in improving students’ reading ability. We have found that students make the greatest progress with their reading when parents are involved in the process.

Evidence shows that just ten minutes a day can have a huge impact on a child’s reading skills. By reading with your child or encouraging your child to read every day you will be supporting them in their education as well as giving them reading skills for later life.

Benefits of Reading

In addition to the obvious benefit on reading comprehension and attainment, it also impacts upon:

  • Vocabulary – understanding and use
  • Understanding of grammar
  • Spelling skill
  • Writing attainment
  • Attitudes to reading and writing
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world and other people
  • Achievement in other subjects, including maths
  • Empathy and understanding of emotions
  • Development of our sense of ‘self’ and identity
  • Reading supports achievement in other subjects because it helps students to access the wider curriculum.
  • Research shows that reading can help to reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing.
  • Linked to this, we know that research shows the numerous benefits of a good night’s sleep, which can be significantly helped by a reduction in screen-time. Therefore, a bedtime routine which includes reading could help with relaxing before bed.

How can Parents / Carers Support Reading at Home?

Getting young people to read can seem a daunting task however, getting your child to pick up a book is a lot easier than it sounds.

You could:

  • Make time to read together if you don’t already. 10 minutes each day is a great start.
  • Encourage discussions about books. Talk about books or magazines you haven’t enjoyed as well as the ones you have and ask questions about the book your child is currently reading.
  • Let your child choose what to read, rather than choosing what you think they should read. You can guide however, using the comprehensive list of book recommendations found via our Instagram page @stbedesblackburnenglish, school website and Reading Padlet –
  • Buy books as presents. You could consider TV, film and game links or books about any of your child’s current interests such as music.
  • Try some skimming and scanning together. Skimming is when you read through a piece of text quickly to find out what the main idea is; scanning is glancing through a piece of text to find a specific piece of information.
  • Help your child to work out what an unfamiliar word means by getting them to read the rest of the sentence and look for clues.
  • Help by testing your child when they have spellings to learn, and by encouraging them to look up words they don’t know in a Dictionary.
  • Build up the number of words your child knows (their vocabulary bank). To help them learn these words, you could ask your child to explain to you what they mean.

Recommended Reading Lists

YEAR 7 1 The London Eye Mystery – Siobhan Dowd
2 The Spook’s Apprentice – Joseph Delaney
3 Framed – Frank Cottrell Boyce
4 Skellig – David Almond
5 Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson
6 Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
7 Ways to Live Forever – Sally Nicholls
YEAR 8 1 Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
2 Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz
3 The Crowfield Curse – Pat Walsh
4 Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone – JK
Rowling 5 The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
6 Holes – Louis Sachar
7 Magyk – Angie Sage
8 Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key – Jack Gantos
YEAR 9 1 Once – Morris Gleitzman
2 Walk Two Moons – Sharon Creech
3 Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
4 Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
5 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
6 Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
7 The Tulip Touch – Anne Fine
8 Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner
9 Black Book of Secrets – FE Higgin
Y10 & Y11 1 Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
2 The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
3 Nation – Terry Pratchett
4 Numbers – Rachel Ward
5 The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
6 Broken Soup – Jenny Valentine
7 Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson
8 Make Lemonade – Virginia Euwer Wolff
9 Crown of Acorns – Catherine Fisher
10 Martyn Pig – Kevin Brookes
Updated reading suggestions are available via:

Our English Instagram: @stbedesblackburnenglish

Our Reading Padlet:

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Stephen King