Reading Within the Curriculum

Due to the significant benefits gained for students from reading, we promote the prioritisation of reading across the curriculum. Language and reading are central to learning at St Mary’s High School. In order to support language acquisition and reading, teachers prioritise the explicit teaching of vocabulary within departmental areas. Teachers focus on the teaching of both tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary, in order to support vocabulary expansion and comprehension.

At St Mary’s, we will encourage your child to read regularly by interweaving reading opportunities within subject areas, both at school and at home. Reading opportunities will be carefully planned and sequenced allowing for sophisticated comprehension of increasingly ambitious texts. We see reading as a vital part of learning and so teachers will establish clear and accountable reading routines. Students will engage in planned comprehension activities including: comprehension questions, summarising key points or rephrasing in their own words both written and verbally.

St Mary’s Form-time Reading

One initiative that we run at St Mary’s, to develop reading, is our form-time reading programme. Twice a week in tutor, for 25 minutes, students will engage in reading based activities. We aim to make this time a calm and focused start to the day, where students develop vital literacy skills. By the end of Key Stage 3, students will have read a number of full texts, covering a variety of themes and ideas. This then leads to Key Stage 4 and 5, where students study non-fiction pieces in depth to allow for increased challenge. Please see below for more information:

KS3 Tutor ‘read aloud’ Programme

Research indicates strong links between reading, academic achievement and future success. Reading has many cultural benefits too, it exposes pupils to lives and experiences that they might not otherwise come across, subsequently promoting emotional intelligence and empathy. Therefore, we prioritise reading at St Mary’s and dedicate weekly two, 25-minute form-time sessions to reading and to developing a love and appreciation of literature. Tutor groups in Year 7, 8 and 9 read a range of full novels spanning from classics to modern-day texts. The form-tutor will model the majority of the reading allowing for fluency, tone, intonation and expression and will model to students how to articulate complex vocabulary. The reading of full novels, at tutor time, enables reading to be placed at the heart of our curriculum. It ensures students have access to a range of authors, genres and writing styles and are able to track the development of plot and character across a novel.

Some of the novels read in tutor time at KS3 are:

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley by Annabel Pitcher

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

The Giver by Lois Lowry

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

I Am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai


“reading in the morning opens up a whole new world because we get to meet all different characters and have new experiences” – KC Year 8

KS4 and KS5 critical Literacy Programme

At KS4 and KS5 pupils complete a critical literacy programme. They too have two, 25-minute tutor sessions dedicated to the study of reading. However, during the critical literacy sessions the focus is predominantly on non-fiction texts, to increase the level of challenge and to further enhance students’ exposure to a variety of text types. At KS4 and KS5 students use text choices as a vehicle to discuss cultural topics, relevant to them. Through the critical literacy programme, they become agents of social change discussing topics within the school, their local community, national and global issues. Throughout the programme, students explore how texts are constructs for meaning; they examine authorial voice by looking at a writer’s tone, choice of words and view point. The programme focuses on developing three critical literacy skills:

  • 1) Examining the relationship between language and the power it can hold
  • 2) Explicit teaching of low frequency and tier 2 vocabulary
  • 3) Development of discussion and dialogue to aid comprehension and understanding

“The sessions give us a deeper sense of perspective, it’s interesting to hear different viewpoints and I think it help me be critical in other subjects” – EW Year 12

“its great to read different articles in form because it helps me when I read other non-fiction texts in my lessons, such as in History” NR – Year 10