Reading and Literacy

Why do we read?  

Reading skills are important in all subject areas and at Church Stretton School. Reading across the curriculum is key to our success and underpins teaching and learning practice.   

Our intent for reading at the Church Stretton School is:   

  • All students are confident readers, reading texts appropriate to their reading age   

  • Students have a passion for reading for pleasure and enjoy what they read   

  • Students are proud of their reading achievements   

  • Students who need support reaching their expected reading age are given suitable and individualised intervention   

  • Reading is embedded across all subject areas; students read texts, especially non-fiction texts, to help their progress and understanding of all subjects   

  • Students are able to access reading to understand wider world issues and new experiences - Students vocabulary is boosted through the range of texts they access and further activities in lessons   

  • Students become confident individuals with their reading who can access and excel in their future careers   

How do we approach reading at the Church Stretton School?   

In order to learn through text, students are equipped with the key strategies that they need for reading and accessing both fiction and non-fiction texts along with a range of course materials:   

  • Skimming   

  • Scanning   

  • Inferring   

  • Predicting   

  • Close Reading (Read backwards and forwards)  

Students are also taught writing and speaking skills across the curriculum to improve their literacy skills. Staff receive CPD on how to approach reading, writing and oracy skills with all students.    

When do students read at school?   

The foundations of these literacy skills are addressed in English lessons and then built on across the whole curriculum. Focusing on our reading curriculum (learning through text) within English, reading activities are incorporated into all lessons and students are encouraged to read aloud, with their peers and individually to help their literacy skills progress.   

All subjects then use reading data available, reading diagnostic information and reading strategies to help students progress in their subject areas and ensure accessibility.   

All subject areas focus on reading non-fiction texts in lessons to help improve knowledge of that subject.   

How is students’ vocabulary boosted?   

Students improve their everyday language and subject specific vocabulary in all lessons across the school.   

Subject specific vocabulary is taught in lessons. Key tier 2 and 3 words are displayed on the Stretton Slide at the beginning of lessons and staff have been taught a consistent school strategy to explicitly teach vocabulary.  

Each department has identified command words with subject specific definitions, and these are displayed at the front of classrooms and regularly referred to. Learning Objectives on the Stretton slides also use these command words, so students get daily exposure to the language and skills needed to navigate each subject. 

Do students read for pleasure?   

Alongside key course texts, students read for pleasure with their own reading books, whole class reads.   

In English, students have a dedicated ‘Reading for Pleasure’ lesson bi-weekly. The Reading for Pleasure strand of the English Mastery curriculum is designed to give pupils the opportunity to spend extended periods of time reading, and to learn to enjoy reading great books.  The book they read is chosen by classroom teachers from a wide selection of classic and contemporary fiction including playscripts. Students are given time to read independently and also benefit from whole class reading and discussion on a variety of texts. For example, in Year 8 a class has been enjoying reading ‘Lord of the Flies’, whilst in Year 7 two classes have been reading the playscript, ‘The Demon Headmaster’.  

In Form Tutor time pupils are expected to read (DEAR time – Drop Everything And Read) every week. Their choice of book is independent; however, this may be guided by their classroom teacher or the librarian. 

Book Club and Creative Writing Club support reading for pleasure. 

Where can students get books at the school?   

We have a beautifully well stocked library. We have a range of challenging, accessible and diverse texts. Students can choose and change books before school, at break, at lunchtime and during their dedicated library lesson bi-weekly.   

Reading Intervention 

How are students helped with their reading?  Church Stretton School assesses reading baselines on entry and, where appropriate, will carry out a range of diagnostic testing and intervention including FreshStart phonics which is delivered by trained staff. 

Details of the FreshStart phonics intervention can be found here :

Reading interventions are also offered to develop accuracy and fluency, information retrieval and comprehension, and for supporting the acquisition of new vocabulary through strategies including precision teaching and vocabulary checkers. 

Mr Balmer  

Head of English