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Reading at SMC

‘Words have Power’


Being able to read ‘well’ not only transforms a student’s ability to learn and therefore to succeed, but also broadens students’ understanding of the wider world and their place within it. As such, it is our aim that all students become skilled readers at St Mary’s College – developing the fluency and inference skills needed to access texts across the curriculum and beyond.

Reading at SMC Layers

In action, our Reading Strategy adopts a three-layer approach to ensure that reading permeates all aspects of the curriculum and supports students with the greatest barriers to learning in this area.

Layer 1: The English Curriculum

Within the English Curriculum, this includes:

  • A weekly ‘Literacy for Life’ lesson for all students in Years 7 to 9 to develop reading skills, to foster a love of literature, to build cultural capital and to promote students’ oracy skills.
  • The ‘SMC Literary Canon’ to ensure that students study a diverse range of texts with increasing levels of challenge – not only in relation to language and syntax, but also concepts and themes. This also ensures that the texts studied are representative of the rich diversity within our school community.
  • The development of reading skills sequenced to build these skills cumulatively and progressively over the learning journey.

Layer 2: Every Classroom across the School

In every subject across the school, this includes:

  • Incorporation of disciplinary and ‘active reading’ approaches including: activating prior knowledge, predicting, skimming, scanning, text marking & summarising.
  • Reading aloud in every subject area – including teacher modelling & time allocated for independent reading.
  • Accessibility issues considered around font, line numbering & summary boxes etc. to ensure that any barriers to reading are removed.
  • Explicit instruction of Tier 2 & Tier 3 vocabulary across all subject areas to ensure that students have a secure understanding of any complex language they encounter or the concepts that underpin the texts they are reading.

Layer 3 - Beyond the classroom:

Outside of timetabled lessons, this includes:

  • Research-based small group interventions for students with weaknesses in their reading skills - including the Reciprocal Reading programme and Fresh Start phonics intervention.
  • Year 12 Reading Buddy programme
  • NGRT data to be shared with all staff regularly along with key strategies to help specific cohorts of students improve.
  • Form time guided reading of full novels in Year 7-8 led by tutors and extracts/articles in Years 9 and 10.
  • Extensive annual programme of Literacy-based enrichment opportunities throughout the year to foster a love of Literature and promote reading for pleasure.
  • Access to a well-stocked and vibrant library with support from a full-time librarian.
  • Pre-reading and ‘super-curricular’ reading lists provided across 6th form subjects to promote academic reading.
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