Toot Hill Students: Sign up to the Reading Pledge!

Literacy: Reading for Pleasure and Tiered Vocabulary

Literacy is not just about spelling and punctuation. It is something that you do in all subjects, and something that you will need when you leave Toot Hill School in everyday life and in your careers.

All students should be encouraged to:

  • ‘make extended, independent contributions that develop ideas in depth’
  • ‘make purposeful presentations that allow them to speak with authority on significant subjects’
  • ‘engage with texts that challenge preconceptions and develop understanding beyond the personal and immediate’
  • ‘experiment with language and explore different ways of discovering and shaping their own meanings’
  • ‘use writing as a means of reflecting on and exploring a range of views and perspectives on the world.’

Source: Improving literacy in secondary schools: a shared responsibility, April 2013

At Toot Hill School we believe that delivering these skills and offering our students these opportunities across the curriculum will support student learning and raise standards across the curriculum because:

  • developing confidence with reading skills allows students to access information, understand questions and learn from sources beyond their immediate experience, in all subjects.
  • it will give them wider access to a vast range of vocabulary and expression to meet the rigour and demands of all subjects, including the ability to reflect and evaluate their own and others’ work
  • developing writing skills allows students to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and opinions in an ordered manner, in all subjects.
  • responding to higher order questioning encourages the development of thinking skills and enquiry.
  • improving literacy and learning can have a positive impact on students’ self-esteem, motivation and behaviour – it is empowering and allows them to learn independently.
  • strong literacy skills are a pre-requisite to achieving successful outcomes for students, not just during their time at school but throughout their lives.

All subject areas will provide opportunities for all students to develop their literacy skills, within schemes of work and individual lessons. All students are required to utilise our whole school framework in order to take responsibility for the continued development of their own literacy skills.

Toot Hill: A Reading School

Why is Reading so important?

As students move into the secondary school, reading can for some students slip down their list of priorities. They don’t have the same contact with individual teachers on a daily basis and other distractions can take over, from video games and social media to homework or time spent with their friends. Reading helps your child’s well-being, develops imagination and has educational benefits too!

However, we know from international research that regular reading is the single most important thing students can do to ensure their success at school and later in life. Reading - and particularly reading fiction - provides children with experiences beyond their own lives; it forces them to confront the lives of those who are not like them; and it can change the way they think about themselves and their place in the world. Those who read regularly as teenagers are on average happier, better off and have more friends by the time they are 30.

Reading also gives students power as they have the language they need to express themselves and to communicate their ideas and feelings. Children who read for an average of 20 minutes a day are exposed to 1.8 million words a year compared to just 8,000 words a year for a child who reads for an average of one minute a day. The student reading 20 minutes a day is much more likely to be in the top 10% of academic achievement, whilst the student reading only one minute a day is much more likely to be in the bottom 10%.

How can you help your child?
  • Read regularly: if you are a regular reader then your child is more likely to see the value in it! 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. And get your children to join in – if you’re cooking, could they read the recipe?
  • Create a quite, well-lit space in your home to encourage reading.
  • Talk to them about what they are reading and read with them and to them.
  • Ask your child lots of questions. All reading matters. Shared reading is about ‘reading with’, not just ‘reading to’ (even for older children). So ask lots of ‘Wh’ questions, such as Who? What? When? Where? Why? Try them when talking about books: for example, ‘What do you think Harry is feeling?’
  • Encourage children to carry a book at all times. That way, they’ll never be bored (this is something you can do, too!)
  • Encourage your child to read by finding reading material about their interests. Any reading that your child does is a good thing.
  • Ensure that they are a member of their local library
  • Use audio-books and e-books such as kindles
  • Establish at least 15 to 20 minutes of dedicated reading time each day
  • Ensure your child leaves phones and other electronic devices away from the bedroom at night and encourage your child to end the day with reading as a way to relax
  • Ask your child to make predication about what they have read.
  • Ask your child to summarise what they have read.
  • Maintain motivation to read: Talk about the joy of reading whenever you can. Your child is on an amazing journey to becoming a reader. Put them in the driving seat and have fun on the way!

Try the PEER model to support your child with reading by discussing what they are reading:

  • PROMPT: prompt the child to say something about the book.
  • EVALUATE: evaluate their response
  • EXPAND: expand their response by rephrasing or adding information to it.
  • REPEAT: repeat the prompt to help them learn from the expansion.

Reading for Pleasure

We want to encourage everyone in school to read. Therefore we have set up an initiative to get our students reading. The Toot Hill Reading Pledge is all about encouraging our students to discover the enjoyment they can gain from reading a good book. For us, the joy of reading comes in many forms: you can learn so much about other people and places; you can learn about the world that we live in and where we have come from; and, perhaps most importantly, we can improve our understanding and vocabulary through reading a wide and varied set of texts.

It has been proven that reading for just 15 minutes a day will exponentially improve your vocabulary; you will be able to learn 5.7 million more words than if you read for 5 minutes a day.

So, we are asking all our students to pledge to reading for 15 minutes each day and share their opinions about what they have read.

Sign up to the Reading Pledge

There is no obligation for the books to be lengthy, fictional classics. Reading an autobiography or even a newspaper or magazine, exploring current affairs is acceptable for the purpose of the reading pledge. However, as part of the challenge we have provided a suggested list which challenges students to read 14 books before they are 14 [list below] for KS3 and 16 books before you are 16 [list below] for KS4. That's 30 books before they leave Toot Hill!

We know that reading can have an impact of students ability to understand and comprehend texts more easily as well as improving their written skills, but our reading pledge is all about enjoying a good book and seeing it as an entertaining experience that everyone can take part in!

In the Spring term we ran two competitions for World Book Day, one reading and one writing. The response has been excellent and excelled during our extended school closure. Those who took part will receive their prizes when we return to school.

For the Summer term, we are launching a new reading challenge and you have been informed of this via our mailing system. Please use the link below to review each of the books you read.

Reading Links:

School Reading List: Website providing information on age- and stage-related reading recommendations for students in KS3-KS5.

Cool Reads! Book reviews written by teenagers.

Book Trust: Website providing information on how to support students with reading at home, with resources, activities and book recommendations for students of all ages.

Education Endowment Foundation: Website providing information and tips to support students with reading.


Download literacy support resources in PDF format:

December 2023


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