At Birchwood, we recognise that success in all subjects depends on a solid foundation of strong literacy skills. Our staff is clear in the belief that each student should be a literate student and have the confidence and abilities to tackle their work with a complete set of literacy skills. We encourage parents, carers and students to make use of the resources on this page and in school, and to talk with their teachers to find out what more they can do to keep improving their literacy skills.

“Literacy is… …the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.” Kofi Annan“Literacy is… …the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.” Kofi Annan

Building Vocabulary

Research on vocabulary’s impact on academic achievement has been proven time and again, and we at Birchwood believe that this is an important area that we need to explicitly address in order to narrow achievement gaps.  One way that we do this is by investing in the Bedrock Learning program for all KS3 students.

Form Tutor led reading

‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … the man who never reads lives only one.’
(George R.R.Martin)

The importance of reading for pleasure cannot be underestimated and we hope to build up pupils’ enjoyment of reading so that they can independently make reading for pleasure a chosen activity. In these sessions, their tutor reads aloud to them, modelling fluency and articulating complex vocabulary.  All pupils can then offer their ideas and join in discussions with their tutor and peers as they progress through their reading journey.

Key benefits of reading together:

  • It is a social experience that builds a sense of community and belonging, thus encouraging a sense of well-being;
  • Regular modelling of fluent reading delivered by tutors develops comprehension;
  • Exposure to countless words and phrases not found in everyday dialogue;
  • Coverage of a wealth of PSHCE themes and concepts valuable for personal; development: it exposes pupils to lives and experiences they might never otherwise come across and in turn promotes emotional intelligence and empathy; and
  • Promotes on-going improvement in independent reading skills

Texts have been selected extremely carefully to ensure that the range of narratives available address age-appropriate themes but offer a high level of challenge too.

Guided Reading

We are passionate about reading at Birchwood and we want our students to love reading too.  In year 7, all students have a guided reading lesson once per week where they are able to enjoy an exciting novel specially chosen to develop their love of reading. In addition, year 6 students are provided with a carefully chosen novel to help them with their transition.

Paired Reading Scheme

Selected pupils in year 7 receive extra support with their reading through the paired reading programme.  Twice a week they read with a carefully trained year 10 partner to help them to improve their comprehension and reading ability.

Echo Reading

Echo reading is designed to help struggling readers develop expressive, fluent reading and comprehension. A student works one-to-one with an adult who models fluent reading to them.

What you can do at home:

  • Read out loud with your child.  Let them read to you and you can read to them. This simple activity has a significant impact on your child’s development of secure reading skills.
  • Talk to your child about the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary as it arises
  • Be interested. Encourage your child to read- ask them about what they are reading and have discussions around the themes, character and plot. Be prepared to sensitively discuss PSHCE themes that may arise.
  • Encourage your child to visit the library- we have a very experienced library resource manager who will help students find a text that they can enjoy.
  • Be an example and let your child see you reading for pleasure on a regular basis at home

Try these to help you write even better:

Suggestions to make you an even better reader:

How you can help at home: