Reading at Sir John Talbot’s School

Reading at Sir John Talbot’s School and The Marches Academy Trust 
We believe that literacy begins with reading. At the heart of our literacy strategy is ‘reading for pleasure’. We expect all of our students to read in their own time and to bring their current reading book to school every day. We promote reading through a range of events and, most importantly, through our ‘Reading School’ initiative. Most importantly, we talk to our students about what they are reading and what we are reading. Having adults as literacy role models is essential to a child’s development. We will also be provide reading recommendations for both students and parents.

Our library is at the heart of the school and at the heart of literacy learning in Sir John Talbot’s School. It is an outstanding resource where students can borrow a wide range of reading material and find a space to work and read. All of the fiction texts have been coded to fit in with our Accelerated Reader scheme so that students are choosing books that match their reading ability more effectively.

Reading School
The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!’

From September 2015, The Marches Academy Trust launched ‘Reading School’. Straight after lunch, between 1:40pm and 2:05pm (The Marches School) and 1:55pm and 2:20pm (Sir John Talbot’s School), all students attend their ‘Reading School’ family group. This is a daily session where students and staff read for pleasure – an opportunity to develop reading skills and enjoyment by choosing something that you want to read. The only thing that we expect from students, is that they have their own reading book (not newspapers or magazines) with them at all times. The session itself will be completed in silence so that students are able to concentrate for the entire 25 minutes. This session is also linked to Accelerated Reader in Year 7 so that we can make sure that our students are reading books that are matched to their reading level and help them to improve. This will help them on their way to an engaging reading experience throughout their time in our care.

Our Aim:
To create a reading-friendly environment and culture throughout The Marches Academy Trust, and help make all of our students ‘word rich’ and passionate about reading beyond school.

Our Rationale:
It is the responsibility of all schools to “develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment.” [Ofsted (2012), Moving English Forward] Whilst schools embed policies generally focussed upon weak readers – such as an emphasis upon phonics – many schools have abandoned the promotion of wider reading and reading for pleasure due to the constraints and pressures of covering the curriculum. As reading is such an essential skill for all areas of the curriculum, we at The Marches Academy Trust strongly believe that, in order for students to develop a love for reading and to further strengthen our students’ skills in reading, this dedicated time for reading is essential. We do not believe that this is a sacrifice for our curriculum; instead we feel that – over time – it will help our students to access the curriculum more effectively.

We have decided to make reading a whole-school priority with all staff being reading role models for our students. It is our belief that this will be a key factor in establishing an effective reading culture throughout our school.

Why Silent Reading?
Students who are good readers experience more success, which makes them want to read more. As students read more, they become even more passionate about reading. Their vocabulary and comprehension skills grow, allowing them to access more complex texts and develop a greater ‘cultural competency’ which will prepare them more effectively for life beyond school.

Silent reading is therefore a skill that is essential for all individuals for a variety of different reasons:
• It helps us to read faster.
• It helps us to improve our understanding.
• It helps the reader to ignore words that they don’t need.
• It allows you to reread aspects of texts to develop understanding further.
• It helps the reader to read whole words at once.
• It allows the reader to build skills in order to move quickly to the information that they may need.
• It is a process that involves everyone while giving everyone an opportunity to choose something that suits both their own interests and their own reading level.
• It gives a good model of writing and language in use.
• It can help with exam practice throughout the curriculum.
• It helps to develop readers’ confidence.
• It helps listening comprehension because reading silently and quickly is actually better practice for real-life listening comprehension than reading out loud is.
• It helps the reader to stop moving their lips as they read. Some people who have done most of their reading out loud move their lips as if they are speaking even when reading silently. This slows down your reading speed and can be embarrassing if people see you.

Accelerated Reader

What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Renaissance Learning, the manufacturer of AR, claim that the program can produce an average of two years’ reading age growth whilst promoting a culture of reading for pleasure. Our students will select a book at his or her own level and read it at their own pace. When finished, they will take a short quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz is an indication that our students have understood what was read and we expect all students to achieve at least 85% in these tests.

AR gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher and librarian will then use to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice. Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them. A reward system is put in place to encourage students to read and enjoy books and this will be embedded within the whole school rewards system.

Take a sample AR test at

How do students access Accelerated Reader?
Students access the Accelerated Reader software during the school day which takes them directly to Sir John Talbot’s School dedicated AR website. They have been given a dedicated username and password in order to access their own Accelerated Reader profile. This should be input into the log in screen.

Students will also complete a Star Reading test online every half term. This allows us to monitor a student’s progress and ensure that their reading level is updated regularly.

You can also download the Accelerated Reader app onto an iPhone or iPad through the iTunes store:

Recommended Reading
To support our students further, we have complied a collection of reading lists that will give some of our suggestions for what they could read next.  Parents also ask us regularly for suggestions for wider reading so we have taken time to compile a list of challenging and interesting reads.  Obviously, some students are more mature than others and you may want to discuss with your child whether or not they are ready for the themes or content of the suggestions that we have provided here.  Additionally, if you require any further suggestions or advice, please feel free to contact us.

Suggested Websites
School Reading

Wider Reading
Year 7 Reading Lists Fiction
Year 8 Reading Lists Fiction
Year 9 Reading Lists Fiction
GCSE and A Level Suggested Reading List Fiction
Reading Lists Curriculum Focus
Sixth Form Wider Reading and Discovery Lists

Reading at Home
Reading at home resources