“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible” Barack Obama.
At St Matthias we know that reading is essential for all aspects of learning. It is a vital skill that will support our students in their future placements, but also to become successful citizens of the modern world. As a school, we endeavour to ensure all our students are taught to read with fluency, accuracy and understanding through a variety of targeted and cross-curricular learning opportunities. Above all, we want children in our school to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers.
Every member of staff at St Matthias is a teacher of reading as well as their specialism. Reading is arguably the most crucial literacy skill for cross-curricular success. The curriculum continues to be dominated by text, both in print and on screen, and our learners need to be able to read fluently in order to understand, make sense of and take meaning from the wide range of texts presented to them. For a significant number of learners who enter secondary schools with a reading age below their chronological age, the reading demands of the secondary curriculum prove extremely challenging. This is often a significant barrier to learning for students who are referred to our academy. We aim to support all students, whatever their starting point, to become successful, able and fluent readers.
In addition to a varied English curriculum at St Matthias Academy, all students receive small group intervention in reading. They have extensive opportunities to improve their reading skills in regular, targeted reading sessions throughout the week. These focus on specific development areas: vocabulary building to ensure they have the necessary vocabulary for life and for their academic curriculum; current affairs through targeted and differentiated news activities and reading for pleasure, which allows them to develop a love of reading for enjoyment, using a wide range of books and other texts that they can choose from.
Students who are identified as working significantly below their chronological are able to receive additional one to one phonics intervention to rapidly improve their reading skills. Students who struggle in school frequently have struggles with reading so regular and effective intervention can make a huge difference on their academic ability as well as their behaviour. Staff are trained to implement the Read, Write, Inc phonics intervention programmes which are designed to help students who are not yet confident and fluent readers.
As part of the initial induction stage students complete the York Assessment for Reading Comprehension. This provides us with a reading age and allows us to assess for gaps in learning and decide which tier of intervention will be appropriate. All students receive small group reading intervention sessions three times a week. Students, who are working below their chronological age in reading, will then be assessed using the Read, Write, Inc: Fresh Start Phonics baseline. This will then determine what kind of phonics intervention they may need. These students will then receive additional one to one phonics intervention. We recognise that until students can read confidently and fluently their ability to access all subjects will be adversely affected.