Reading and Literacy
How we support reading.
For Year 7 through to Year 9, the school uses Star Reading Assessment three times per year to monitor the progress that pupils are making in their reading. The Star Reading Assessment is part of the Accelerated Reader programme (more information on Accelerated Reader is available below) and provides information on pupils’ reading age, their standardised score, their ability to understand, interpret and engage with texts, and the breadth of their vocabulary.
For Year 10 and Year 11, pupils sit Literacy Assessment Online twice per year, which measures pupils’ reading and spelling ages as well as their standardised scores.
The reason the school regularly assesses pupils’ reading proficiency is twofold. Firstly, to ensure that no pupils who may require additional support with their reading remain unidentified and they can access an intervention programme tailored to their needs; and secondly to ensure that pupils are reading books at a level that will help them to make rapid progress with their reading comprehension.
The school has several layers of intervention in place for pupils who require additional support with their reading. Pupils are initially identified by their standardised score following a Star Reading Assessment or Literacy Assessment Online result, although a secondary diagnostic assessment also takes place to ensure that pupils actually need intervention and that if so, they are receiving the correct intervention. The reading interventions the school currently offer are:
In Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9, pupils are enrolled in the Accelerated Reader Programme. This is a programme designed to help pupils rapidly improve their reading comprehension by reading books in their ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (ZPD). ZPDs are designated to each pupil following a Star Reading Assessment.
The Accelerated Reader programme works by pupils completing quizzes online once they’ve read a book, which in turn provides the school and pupils themselves with information on how well they have comprehended what they have read and if they are ready to move on to a higher stage. Pupils can check the ZPD of what they are currently reading or find suggested books within their ZPD by using the Accelerated Reader Bookfinder website, which is linked below.
In lessons across school, pupils are encouraged to understand the type of reading that tasks require. Symbols identifying the four types of reading are embedded into resources and staff make reference to them during lessons. The four types of reading the school uses are:
The school is fortunate to have a large and well-stocked library which is open before school, at break times, lunchtimes and after school. The fiction section of the library has been organised so that pupils in Key Stage 3 can easily find a book within their ZPD.
The school library has its own website where pupils can check if books are currently available for loan, or when they are due back in. Most books on the library website are also linked to Accelerated Reader so pupils can see what the ZPD of each book is.
Although we believe that it is important for pupils to have some structure around the reading that is suggested to them, we also firmly believe that pupils need a large degree of choice in what they read in order to ensure that reading remains a pleasurable habit.
To that end, we have launched the St Leonard’s Reading Canon for Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9. Each year group has a choice of 41 books. We believe that reading a minimum of three books per year from each year group’s canon will provide pupils, over the course of Key Stage 3, with a diverse blend of writing styles, authors, genres, links to British Values and links to the school’s virtues.
On Tuesday the 13th February, a very special concert took place at Durham’s magnificent Town Hall. James Weeks, the conductor of Exaudi, a small professional chamber choir, has been working on composition with Year 13 A Level music pupils since the spring of 2023. Following a series of workshops in school, the compositions were finally performed […]
Published: February 22, 2024
In October 2023 the school moved Year 7 and 8 to Ushaw College, so we could resume Face to Face Teaching for all year groups as soon as possible. This allowed the school to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum, and we are grateful that Durham University and Ushaw were able to be accommodate us […]
Published: February 7, 2024
Six brilliant candidates have received offers from Oxford or Cambridge this year. Congratulations to them all and we wish them every success as they prepare for their A Levels. Thank you to Miss Bird and all the Sixth Form staff who have given excellent support – as ever – during the application process.
Published: January 26, 2024