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At Birchwood, we recognise that success in all subjects depends on a solid foundation of strong literacy skills. We encourage parents, carers and students to make use of the resources on this page and in school to keep improving their literacy skills. 

‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … the man who never reads lives only one.’

George R.R.Martin

Discover Birchwood's literacy initiatives below:

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 Programme for all KS3 students. 

Form Tutor Led Reading 

The importance of reading for pleasure cannot be underestimated. We hope to build our students’ enjoyment of reading so that they can independently make reading for pleasure a chosen activity. In these sessions, their tutor will read aloud to their form group, modelling fluency and articulating complex vocabulary.  All pupils can offer ideas and join in discussions 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • Year 7: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 
  • Year 8: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon 
  • Year 9: The Maze Runner by James Dashner 
  • Year 10: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro  

"I liked it so we got the whole book of short stories to read at home." 

"It was very enjoyable to listen to and there was a twist to the end that I liked." 

"I thought the story was very interesting throughout and I really enjoyed it. Because it was a different culture, I learnt new things about other people I didn’t know about like the rice they grew to pay for the taxes." 

Guided Reading 

In Year 7 and 8, all students have a guided reading lesson once per fortnight where they are able to enjoy an exciting novel specially chosen to develop their love of reading. 

The selection of books that teachers will choose from according to their class: 

Year 7: Dystopia 

  • The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde 
  • Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 
  • The Infinite by Patience Agabi 

Year 8: Growing Up 

  • The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux 
  • Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick 
  • The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon 

Paired Reading Scheme

Paired Reading Scheme 

Selected students in Year 7 receive extra support with their reading through the Paired Reading Programme. Twice a week, they read with a carefully trained sixth-form partner to help them to improve their comprehension and reading ability. 

What you can do at home to improve your child's literacy: 

  • 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 and ask them about what they are reading. Have discussions about the themes, characters and plot. Be prepared to sensitively discuss PSHCE themes that may arise. 

  • Encourage your child to visit the library. 

  • Be an example and let your child see you reading for pleasure on a regular basis at home.