Reading at Cantell

‘Schools have no more fundamental responsibility than teaching children to read…Nothing is more important in education than ensuring every child can read well.’

Reading: The Next Steps, DfE 2015

Reading at Cantell School is an integral part of our student’s development as we recognise that strong literacy improves life chances. The ability to read is a fundamental skill to learning success and we aim to develop confident and enthusiastic readers, irrespective of what level of reading skill they have when they join us. 

Why is reading so important to us at Cantell?

  • Reading is fundamental to all subjects and life beyond Cantell. It builds knowledge and understanding of the world, supports wellbeing and lowers anxiety. 
  • We believe that understanding the vocabulary used in a lesson will unlock the learning so students know more, remember more and can apply their knowledge.
  • A wider vocabulary correlates with success, both academically (improving students’ ability to understand texts, more likely to apply knowledge across subjects and improves their writing) as well as improving their cultural capital.
  • Low reading ages can lead to low self-confidence and poor mental health; therefore, we need to intervene with students most in need and ensure their reading ages improve. 

It is vital you support us at home. This can be as simple as asking your child what they are reading and what they are enjoying about it; recommending books you have enjoyed; reading together; and visiting a library. The bookmark below gives you further details about how to ask about reading in a meaningful way.

Our aim is for all our students to leave Cantell being able to read at, or above, their age level.

How are we trying to achieve this?

Reading is one of our three teaching and learning priorities this year. Here are some of our current initiatives:  

In school, one of the first things we have done is to get all students to complete the Access Reading Test to determine their reading age. This was done towards the end of the academic year and will be repeated twice a year to track progress. Your child should know their reading age; if they do not, please ask them to speak to any teacher as this data is shared to ensure all students are supported to improve their reading age.

Weekly Lesson A reading sessions (Year 7-9) use First News articles to engage students in current affairs and build cultural capital; give students an opportunity to read aloud and listen to modelled reading by their Lesson A tutors; and check their understanding of reading non-fiction through a range of interactive quizzes and activities. 

Weekly reading lessons (for the majority of students in Year 8 and 9, and all students in Year 7) focus on a range of text types and students have time to concentrate  on how to read them aloud; in particular, the focus is volume, pace, tone and how punctuation affects meaning. Students enjoy the practical element of these lessons and it helps to build their confidence in reading aloud – a vital life skill.

English lessons are planned around the reading of whole texts (for information on the texts, please see here: ). Every fortnight, students have a dedicated library lesson to allow teachers to focus on what students are reading at home and ensure it is appropriately challenging,

We are so lucky to have a library and have extended its hours this year (it is open from 8am, at breaks, and until 4pm every day) and employed an assistant librarian to ensure all students have access to the right books for them. Our expert librarians are happy to advise on books and take requests for new books too. Find out more here Library – Cantell School.

English KS3 Interventions are run by English teachers to provide extra support to students. Both the class teacher and intervention teacher work collaboratively to target those that need further support with key knowledge and skills. These sessions run during their normal timetabled English lesson as a way of ensuring the work carried out during intervention directly helps with their English studies.

Intervention teachers are assigned a year group which means they are able to intervene with targeted students during their normal timetabled English lesson. Teachers will either reteach key skills through a cut-away in class or students may go to another classroom to work in a smaller group environment, or with 1-2-1 support. We currently have the capacity for 15 sessions to run in years 7, 8 and 9 every week.

Reading Ambassadors is our own reading programme where our weakest readers are invited to come into school early to spend time with older Cantell students.  The program involves students coming to school twice a week before the day officially starts, and spend 25 minutes eating breakfast, and reading with their own Reading Ambassadors. By the end of the session, we aim for every student to have read at least one full book, and be more confident in their reading abilities.

SEND Reading Interventions run within our Support Hub. Students identified as weak readers (using the Access Reader Test) receive targeted reading intervention in small groups focused on either comprehension or phonics. This intervention is available for all year groups. These sessions target one particular reading skill (phonics, literal comprehension, vocabulary, inference or analysis), with students reading high interest books, supported by an LSA. The LSA monitors and tracks progress throughout the program, with students reading ages re-tested annually.

Disciplinary literacy is demonstrated across the curriculum so that reading is a focus in all subject areas and is specific to that subject; for example, how you read like a geographer is very different to reading like a mathematician. Each faculty area has a nominated Reading Champions who supports their faculty to ensure reading is part of every lesson, students see the value in it and students are supported to read aloud. Every lesson is a lesson where reading is expected, encouraged, and rewarded.  

Reading days happen throughout the year and consist of author visits, book fairs, starters in lessons to demonstrate reading skills across the curriculum and much more. 

Staff training to ensure everyone identifies as expert readers, feel confident reading aloud and teaching reading skills. Through ongoing CPD, teachers are passionate about supporting readers, of all levels, to become more confident and independent readers.