Sir William Ramsay School

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 

Dr Seuss

Supporting Your Child's Reading

Research shows that your interest and involvement in your child’s learning and education is more important than anything else in helping your child to fulfil their potential.  As parents/carers you are there from day one on their learning journey.  Research into the reading skills of 15 year-olds across the world found that children who are more interested in reading do better at school than those who do not read for pleasure.  Studies also found that parents/carers who talk to their children about books, TV programmes and films help to keep their children interested in reading.  Having books, newspapers and magazines around at home also made a difference to how interested children were in reading.

Here are our tips to support your child’s reading:

  • Let your child choose what to read, rather than choosing what you think they should read.
  • Read yourself!  It doesn’t matter what it is – pick up a newspaper or magazine, take a look at a cookery book, read a computer manual, enjoy some poetry or dive into a romance or detective novel.  Get your children to join in – if you’re cooking, could they read the recipe?  If you're watching TV, can they read out the listings?
  • Encourage your child to read magazines, comics, newspapers and the internet as well as books. Buy books as presents.  Don’t forget TV tie-ins and books about interests such as computer games or bands.
  • Help your child to find books they will enjoy by joining the public library, if you are not already members.  It is free to join and many libraries have CDs and DVDs that can be borrowed very cheaply, as well as many different types of books that can be borrowed for free.
  • Read together - try picking reading material about interests or hobbies you share, like your football team or a place you have visited together.  10 minutes a few times a week will make a difference.
  • Talk to your child about the types of reading they think they will be asked to do in school; get them to explain to you what they already know about types of non-fiction (factual writing) and try to match them to the subjects your child does at school.
  • Chat about which books or magazines your child might read, to learn more about the subjects they will be doing at secondary school.
  • 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.  You can do this with a newspaper – perhaps ask your child to find something out for you.  Why not ask them to scan a newspaper for news about a favourite footballer or to find out the weekend weather or get them to skim read a recipe to tell you the basic steps?
  • 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 do not know in a dictionary.
  • Build up the number of words your child knows – their vocabulary.  As they go through secondary school, your child will need to know specialist words and recognise them when they are reading. To help them learn these words, you could ask your child to explain to you what they mean.
  • Read books or plays that your child needs to study for school – in Year 9 English your child will study two scenes from a Shakespeare play.  It can really help them if you read these together and talk about the language and characters.  Why not learn a few short quotations together as a competition?
  • Cut out newspaper articles about topics your child is studying.
  • Read together if your child is having problems with reading in a particular subject.
  • Look up technical words you or your child do not recognise from their work in a dictionary or on the internet and make it your word of the day.  When you have a list of new words you could test your child on them.


A Guide to Supporting Reading for Parents of Secondary Students Reading with your Child.

Tips For Reading With Your Child | BookTrust

What if My Child Doesn't Like Reading? | BookTrust

Reading Recommendations


Literacy Focus Areas 

Whole School Strategies to Improve Literacy

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Teaching Vocabulary

Support for Students with Specific Literacy Needs

  • Testing through accelerated reading tests
  • Phonics
  • Intervention sessions

Marking for Literacy

Disciplinary Literacy

Definition of Literacy

Literacy generates the development of effective skills in communication.  To be literate is to be able to listen, speak, read and write at a level necessary to function in education, at work and in society.

Why Literacy Matters

To be literate in its most basic form is to have the ability to read, write, communicate and react to ideas in text and language.  Literacy skills provide strong foundations which students build on across subject disciplines.  National statistics show a concerning downward spiral with regards to the literacy of the nation.  National Literacy Trust statistics suggest that:

  • 1 in 5 disadvantaged children in the UK say that they do not have a book of their own.
  • The longer children maintain an enjoyment of reading, the greater the benefits are in the classroom.
  • Children born into communities with the most serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.
  • Only half of children in the UK enjoy writing.
  • Children who enjoy reading and writing are happier in their lives.
  • 1 in 6 adults in the England (16.4%/7.1 million people) have very poor literacy skills.

There is a clear correlation between reading age and KS4 outcomes in every subject area.  “There is a significant correlation between reading ability and GCSE results across all subjects.  This was not just the case in English, but in Maths and Science too.  Indeed, the correlation between good literacy and good outcomes at GCSE was higher in Maths (0.63) than in some arts subjects like History and English Literature (0.60).”

At Sir William Ramsay School we recognise that good literacy is key to academic success across the curriculum.  Indeed, a recent EEF evidence review found that the strongest factor affecting students’ Science attainment is how well they understand written texts.

Limited vocabulary and therefore ability to read and understand what is being read is inextricably linked to a child’s postcode, along with the pay packet and level of academic qualification of their parents/carers.

A 1990s study showed from birth to 48 months, parents/carers in professional families spoke 32million words more words to their children than parents/carers in welfare families.

Aim of the Literacy Policy

The aim of the Whole-School Literacy Policy is to raise literacy attainment at every level of ability.

Staff work together to integrate the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing into the curriculum to maximise the potential of each student.


  • To adopt a whole school approach to literacy across all curriculum areas.
  • To tackle low reading ages.
  • To develop a shared understanding that all teachers are responsible for disciplinary literacy and adapting their teaching to the literacy needs of their learners.
  • To recognise that students who have a love of reading often have increased academic achievement so to embed teaching and learning literacy strategies in all subjects.
  • To recognise that literacy is central to a students’ personal and academic achievement.
  • To close the gaps in literacy for specific groups caused by absences or a lack of literacy strategies at a younger age.
  • To foster a love of reading, writing and communicating so learners confident and well – rounded individuals.

EEF Foundation on Reading:



Key Roles & Responsibilities

 Staff Title Role

 Literacy Responsibility

Senior Leadership Team

The Senior Leadership Team will take an active role in supporting and improving literacy across the school.

Subject Leaders

Subject Leaders have the crucial role of leading and supporting literacy activities and initiatives within their teams.  Each department has produced subject glossaries-on the website and shared with parents/carers.

 Heads of Year

Heads of Year are expected to take a key role in promoting literacy activities supporting Form Tutors with reading and any other form literacy activities.

Form Tutors

Form Tutors will promote and model reading and encourage students to take part in a range of reading activities.

They will also model successful reading, check understanding and encourage competent verbal communication during other weekly sessions. 



The English Department will take the bulk of the responsibility in teaching the basic literacy skills within the curriculum and to offer advice and support as appropriate. 

Learning Support Department

The Learning Support Department is expected to identify students with literacy difficulties, to co-ordinate and provide support to improve literacy skills through in-class support. 

Teaching Staff

All staff have a responsibility to plan and teach lessons which make good use of opportunities to develop student's literacy skills, mark for literacy (where appropriate) and promote disciplinary literacy. 

Whole School Strategies for Supporting Literacy:

1.  We have a well-stocked and well-used library which is open to students to use in English lessons; during lunch and break time and before and after school.  The school library is organised by genre to allow students to easily find texts within genres that they enjoy.

2.  We have a whole-school drive for World Book Day, where staff promote reading and students partake in reading activities and competitions.

3.  Every week during tutor time students are introduced to a word of the week.  This allows them to develop their understanding of etymology and transfer this onto new words they will encounter.

4.  Intervention students in year 9 are matched with a Sixth Form Tutor who is trained in reading strategies.  They also test SPAG.

5.  We undertake accelerated reading testing two – three times per year for Key Stage 3 students to ensure that we are tracking progress in literacy.

6.  Read Like A – All departments considered what excellent reading would look like within their subject.

7.  The English Department dedicate curriculum time to reading for pleasure and to develop reading stamina.  Teachers model good reading, listen to students’ read and question their understanding of what they are reading.  They also monitor the quality of the reading that students are doing in order to ensure that it is appropriate to their reading age.

8.  Year 7 use Bedrock – an online bespoke programme which focuses on vocabulary and grammar.  It uses baseline tests to assess the students’ level and then they learn tier two words through a series of lessons and quizzes.  The same process is used for to improve students’ understanding of grammatical rules, sentence parts and punctuation.

9.  All departments explicitly assess students’ understanding of, and ability to use subject specific vocabulary.

Whole School and Departmental Strategies for Supporting Reading:

Students will have opportunities to: 

  1. Use reading to research the subject area
  2. Use the library and ICT to support subject learning
  3. Read for pleasure
  4. Read a range of text types
  5. Locate and retrieve information
  6. To select and make notes from a text
  7. To use a range of reading skills such as skimming, scanning, reading for meaning

Teachers will aim to:

  1. Facilitate reading development through their subject
  2. Present reading tasks at a suitable level
  3. Draw students’ attention to structure, layout, format, print and other signposts
  4. Help students to skim, scan or read intensively according to the task
  5. Teach students to select or note only what is relevant
  6. Help students to question, challenge and recognise bias in a range of texts
  7. Support students who are at the early stages of reading
  8. Teach students to read identified subject vocabulary

Whole School and Departmental Strategies for Supporting Reading:

Students will have opportunities across the curriculum to:

  • Write in a variety of forms for different purposes
  • Plan, draft and discuss writing
  • Use writing to organise thoughts and to aid learning
  • Produce written material of a quality appropriate to their individual level of attainment
  • Record information and observations

Each subject area will aim to:

  • Offer students models for writing in a range of forms
  • Provide resources to support independence for all students (e.g. key words, writing frames etc.)
  • Provide appropriate activities for students of all levels of ability
  • Help students with handwriting, spelling and presentational aspects of writing
  • Teach students to spell key subject vocabulary 

Whole School and Departmental Strategies for Supporting Speaking and Listening:

Lessons will enable students to:

  1. Value and respect talk of others
  2. Acquire knowledge, new concepts and understanding
  3. Acquire the skills needed to evaluate information
  4. Practise using new vocabulary
  5. Appreciate talk as a valuable area of learning
  6. Adapt talk to match the audience and purpose of the task

Lessons will provide:

  1. Some activities which feature talk as an essential element
  2. Homework activities which require discussion techniques with parents/carers or other adults
  3. Activities which focus on accurately using identified subject vocabulary
  4. Explicit rules about classroom talk so that the opinions and ideas of everyone are respected
  5. Opportunities for all students to be able to speak openly and confidently without fear of ridicule

How We Teach Vocabulary:

  • Key words are displayed in lessons
  • Subject-specific vocabulary is taught explicitly
  • Complex texts are read out-loud by the teacher
  • Students are encouraged to summarise texts
  • ‘Read like a…’ posters are displayed in every learning space
  • Understanding of vocabulary and texts is checked
  • Use of effective vocabulary is recognised and celebrated in both verbal and written responses

Students with Particular Literacy Needs

Whilst all students benefit from a consistent, coherent and comprehensive approach to literacy, some groups of students will require specific attention and targeted support.  These might include most able students, those with specific learning difficulties and EAL students.

Students’ needs can be assessed by analysing their performance in the following: 

  • KS2 results
  • Accelerated reading tests
  • Spelling tests

Year 7 Literacy Catch-Up

Where Year 7 students are identified to have fallen below the expect end of KS2 standard in literacy, intervention is used to accelerate their progress.  

Marking for Literacy

The focus on literacy in written outcomes should be present, regardless of subject area.  The exception might be formally assessed exam pieces where SPaG is not part of the mark scheme.

Disciplinary Literacy

We recognise that literacy taught as an ‘add on’ or afterthought is not effective and so we promote the teaching of disciplinary literacy i.e. departments teaching the literacy that relates to their subject and will help students perform better in their curriculum area.

This focus on disciplinary literacy makes clear that every teacher communicates their subject through its own unique language, and that reading, writing, speaking and listening are at the heart of knowing, doing and communicating Science, Art, History and every other subject in secondary school.

Strategies that are employed as part of disciplinary literacy:

  • Key words which relate to specific subjects or how a particular word might have a different meaning in different subjects.
  • Vocabulary Key Competency added in all KS3 subjects which means that students are assessed in their ability to use or understand key words in all subjects across the curriculum.
  • Spelling tests and mnemonics to learn important spellings.
  • Teachers modelling how to read effectively to students.
  • Teachers asking students to engage in summary and comprehension exercises across different subjects.
  • Read Like A… posters and awards to recognise the different needs to different curriculum areas.
  • Teachers offering models of good answers to allow students to understand the importance of how we communicate ideas.
  • Live modelling of longer answers to verbally talk through the thought process when writing longer answers.
  • Scaffolding to help students phrase and structure their response effectively.
  • Literacy marking in exercise books across the curriculum.