Here at HAOC, we believe that the embedded weekly practice of guided reading for thirty minutes, twice per week is essential in broadening tier 2 vocabulary, enriching cultural capital and ultimately improving exam performance.
According to Renaissance UK’s biggest-ever literacy study of more than 1 million children across hundreds of schools from all different demographics, exam results improved massively where guided reading was routinely practised.
Guided reading helps students develop greater control over the reading process through the development of reading strategies which assist in decoding meaning as well as enhancing their oracy skills by being able to talk more confidently about great literature. The teacher guides or ‘scaffolds’ their students as they read, talk and think their way through a text, completing various small text directed, focused tasks such as sequencing, text completion, scanning, skimming and inferring.
When readers have the opportunity to talk, think and read their way through a text, they build up self-confidence as well as their own systems in the future of decoding and ultimately enjoying reading. Quality literature is highly motivating to both students and teachers. Students prefer to learn with these texts and given the opportunity will choose these texts over traditional, ‘easy readers’.
Moreover, coupled with reading eclectic and ground-breaking books, the students will also experience a diverse range of short non-fiction texts throughout the year linked thematically to the novels. These are designed to help students comprehend more challenging texts through activating prior knowledge outlined in research by Keene and Zimmerman; understanding issues such as racism, religious extremism or PTSD before encountering them within a novel.
The Guided Reading curriculum
The Guided Reading curriculum has been carefully planned and sequenced. Click here to see the overview and narrative of the full curriculum.
During the autumn term we want our scholars to begin the year reading a novel that will enrich their understanding of culture, identity and diversity;
Year 7 read The Edge
Year 8 Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Year 9, Teacher’s Dead
Come spring, we want the students to move on to a compelling, nail biting thriller;
Year 7 read Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Year 8 War of the Worlds
Year 9 the chilling and edgy horror novel The Woman in Black
Finally, the summer term sees them exploring prestigious, and much celebrated classic novels:
Year 7 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Year 8 Lord of the Flies
Year 9 Brave New World
Immersed with the novels are a range of non-fiction texts to support comprehension through the activation or prior learning. Among others, they will read a true account of the brutal stabbing of the headteacher Philip Lawrence, they will read about the inhuman child slave labour of Victorian England, and Nando Parrado’s 2 and half months existing on a frozen mountain in Chile after a plane crash. They’ll read a stirring speech delivered to survivors of domestic abuse, they’ll learn of the terrible trolling and bullying of Little Mix’s Jessie Nelson, about the London 7/7 bombings and the terrible tragedy that was Grenfell.
KS5 students follow an academic reading programme. Students begin in Y12 with current affairs from law and order to the climate crisis and then sign up to an academic pathway that provides a bespoke package of academic reading and/or podcasts designed to promote academic thought around students’ chosen destinations.
Reading for pleasure
Not only can reading be highly enjoyable if someone finds the right genre to capture the imagination, but the evidence also tells us that the most successful people are all avid readers. Bill Gates still reads a minimum of 50 books per year and former US President Barack Obama described reading as ‘the gateway’ skill that makes all other learning possible. However, trends also tell us that many young people have fallen out of the habit of reading regularly as technology and other entertainment forms take the place of books.
A recent poll by the Independent newspaper found that gifting books as a Christmas present has declined by almost half in the past decade and this number is even higher amongst children. Thus, it is our mission to help our students develop a love of reading that will not only benefit their intellectual journey but also help build confidence, cultural capital and in many instances, support mental health. Reading is proven to help use the experiences they read about to develop empathy for people in the outside world – and to use their skills in ways that boost their self-esteem and confidence.
What is the HAOC reading challenge?
Because we know the powerful benefits of reading, we launched a reading challenge for all our students from Year 7, right the way through to Year 13. The Literacy team have compiled a reading list for our students to encourage them, indeed even challenge them, to find a book that captures their interest and give reading a go. For those who are already avid readers, this list provides a breadth of stimulating reads, including fiction and non-fiction, that we believe will broaden their horizons and hopefully open them up to a whole new world of diverse and inspiring stories.
How was the reading list selected?
Many of the texts have won awards, such as the Carnegie award, or been selected as part of national reading competitions. In addition, we believe the breadth of titles reflects our ambition to offer a broad, ambitious and diverse curriculum where all of our students can see their personal characteristics reflected in literature.
Additionally, the list is divided into sections and categories as such:
- Key Stage 3 has two sections, one with titles for confident readers of reading age 11+ and one for developing readers of reading age 10 or below. This is simply as a guide to help select titles at this stage but any student can read any title;
- Key stages 3, 4 and 5 have also been divided into genres of culture and identity, thriller, adventure and mystery, and fantasy, sci-fi or dystopian (Key stage 5 also has some philosophical titles)
We have divided the list this way in order to support students and parents/carers to select texts that will be age appropriate, both in their content and in the level of challenge posed by the book. However, we understand that just like these books, all students are different and these categories are merely a guide and any student is welcome to read any of the texts that intrigue them. All of these titles are already in our school library so can be easily borrowed.
Click here to view the full reading list, and the shortlisted reading lists for Black History Month and LGBTQ+.
How does the reading challenge work?
- For every book read, students will be awarded 10 House Points;
- Once a student has read three books from the list, they will receive a Bronze award;
- Once a student has read seven books from the list, they will receive a Silver award;
- Once a student has read ten books from the list, they will receive a Gold award;
- Once a student has read 15 books from the list, they will receive a Diamond award and an additional prize.
All students have to do is produce a short book review once they have read it, summarising the plot and their opinion on how much they enjoyed it and why. This can be in the form of:
- A written report
- A book video recording
- A creative response such as a musical song, live action-drama video, poetry, or art
Reading in the classroom
Research from educational academic Tom Sherrington found that in many secondary schools across the country, some students can go an entire week only having actually read six words. This is because reading is either not prioritised in lessons or reading routines are not accountable, meaning they do not require students to actively engage with reading a text. Therefore, HAOC prioritises reading in lessons by utilising a range of approaches to ensure all our students are encouraged and required not only to read each week but read aloud; an important skill when entering the world of work. These techniques include:
Choral reading: once the teacher has read a passage of writing or text, students will all read either the same piece or a new piece simultaneously aloud.
Echo or ‘paired’ reading: Students take turns to read sections of a passage of writing or text to each other
Both of these approaches avoid students being expected only ever to follow, as a smaller number of more confident students read aloud.
Our staff play an integral role incentivising and modelling the important habit of reading for pleasure. Many have offered to be filmed discussing some of their favourite books and reading a small section. Click on the links below to hear videos of some of our staff talking about their favourite books.
Juniper and Carnegie reading challenges
Many HAOC students voluntarily enter the annual, national Juniper and Carnegie book awards. The Juniper award in particular has attracted a lot of interest and has seen many of our young people be nominated and win prizes for their reviews of shortlisted books. 'Coming Soon' are written extracts and videos of some of the amazing reviews our students have made for the Juniper reading challenge.