Reading is the most important skill our pupils will learn at Ark Academy. That is why we place reading at the heart of all we do; teaching reading lessons explicitly and embedding reading into all subjects. Reading widens a pupil’s world, allowing them to imagine and experience the lives, settings and opinions of others which they may not otherwise be exposed to.
Children start their reading journey with the Read Write Inc. reading programme which is based on "synthetic phonics"; that is, children learn what combinations of letters make all the different sounds in English, how to blend these sounds to make words, and how to decode words when they see these combinations.
Once children have completed the phonics programme and through key stage 2 (KS2), pupils have discrete reading lessons that follow a ‘10-Day’ reading model which is rooted in the pedagogy of Scarborough’s Reading Rope, viewing reading as a complex skill that is multifaceted. To be a successful reader, children must have automaticity with word recognition and read with fluency, as well as employ strategies that enable language comprehension. Our specially designed reading curriculum uses high quality texts to drive the teaching of these key reading skills and the development of pupils’ knowledge around a range of themes and concepts. The curriculum is designed so that pupils have exposure to a variety of genres and authors over the year. Novels are read every term, alongside non-fiction and poetry texts to enable pupils to understand the different purposes for reading. At its heart, the programme is equitable for all as we believe that every pupil has the right to access and participate in reading high-quality texts.
From Year 7, pupils become familiar with the tropes, key features and literary movements across time and develop their understanding of western cultural capital (e.g., biblical canon and mythological tropes). Pupils also build on their inference skills and develop their skills of using ‘point-evidence-explain’ by learning how to be more analytical (‘point-evidence-analyse’) when reading. As pupils move through key stage 3, the link between reading and writing is strengthened further. Pupils move onto reading classic novels, including some Shakespearean texts in their original form and are taught to navigate texts from across the history of British literature. The foundation in vocabulary that pupils gain in the primary phase is key in enabling them to access the more complex language in these texts.
We have a fantastic, well-stocked library with an up-to-date range of books, including fiction, information books, graphic novels, manga and magazines, to encourage students to foster a love of reading for pleasure. We run competitions on a half-termly basis; recent competitions have included poetry slams, a Roald Dahl day quiz, a creative writing competition and a design your own manga strip. The highlight of our year is the Literary Festival, in which we, as a school, devote an entire week to all things literary! Past events have included ‘Ark’s Lit Quiz’, Ark’s audiobook recorded by staff, spelling bees and young writers workshops. Added to this, we have our Reading Canon, which details wider reading suggestions specific to each year group, and for every curriculum subject. The Reading Canon is used throughout the school, for example, as the basis for holiday homework reading, where students are expected to complete a various tasks related to what they have read.
‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’
At Ark Academy, we prioritise reading in every classroom. By promoting reading across the full curriculum spectrum, we equip students to read fluently and comprehend texts in every subject discipline. It is crucial that we nurture fluent readers who can independently comprehend a wide range of texts for students to appreciate the central role of reading as the key to acquiring knowledge and setting them up for success in future learning. The skills involved in reading, comprehending and interpreting a text in the classroom – which involves self-reflection, discussion and navigating a divergence of opinions and interpretations – will also develop students’ empathy, tolerance and self-awareness.
Our reading across the curriculum strategy is founded upon the following five principles:
- Reading is the pathway to learning. Reading is the key to unlocking the curriculum for students. Students need to be trained to read as a historian, as a scientist, a geographer, a mathematician, so that they can build the stamina for reading challenging, academic texts in the future.
- Background knowledge matters. The reading pupils undertake in school is typically requires substantial background knowledge. Through pre-reading tasks, teachers equip students with the background knowledge to aid their reading and comprehension.
- Fluency aids comprehension. Reading with expression and accuracy contributes towards reading comprehension. Providing students with opportunities to read aloud in the classroom allows teachers to support students with developing fluency.
- Accountable Independent Reading is a tool for life. Teachers support students with effectively reading a text for meaning by providing students with questions/tasks that support students’ comprehension of a text, encourage more ‘active’ reading habits and equip students to tackle texts with independence later in life.
- We want all students to foster the habit of reading independently. Children’s reading ability determines how much they read so, as teachers, we are committed to delivering high quality reading provision; if we can improve the teaching of reading, then we are likely to increase our pupils’ reading ability and how much they read for pleasure and engage in our subject disciplines.
Our work on reading in the classroom is enhanced through our use of the reading canons. These form part of our significant commitment to reading as a life-long skill. Every department has chosen three books they recommend your child to read to broaden their passion and knowledge at an age appropriate way that supports their learning of the curriculum.
25 Book Challenge
At Ark Academy, we understand the significance of reading - especially reading for pleasure – which is why we strive to put reading at the heart of everything that we do!
As a way of encouraging our primary students to read for pleasure and foster a love for reading books, we have launched a new reading challenge for your child to get involved in.
The 25 Book Challenge was launched at the start of this academic year, and we wanted to share with you what it is all about so that you can be supporting your child with this challenge at home!
Every year group has a brand-new selection of 25 books which were handpicked by teachers as the top 25 picks to read before moving onto their next year in school.
These books are all available in school for your child to take home and read. In addition, these books can also all be found in your local library!
To help your child keep track of their progress, a list of the 25 Book Challenge books has been stuck at the back of their yellow reading record to tick off as they go. We also have a special 25 Book Challenge display in every classroom, which pupils are using to keep track of their progress in school.
Children who complete the 25 Book Challenge will be awarded a special (and exclusive) reading champion badge.
Please see the relevant PDF document to find out about the books that have been chosen for your child’s 25 book challenge! You can also find PDF documents of age-appropriate PE and ICT related books.