Week A

At Highdown School, we understand that literacy is essential to all students. The ability to read well, enables students to understand and keep up with the demands of the curriculum, indeed there is a correlation between those who read well and greater academic success. Reading also exposes students to other cultures and ideas, it promotes empathy and is pleasurable!

Highdown School ensures that literacy skills are actively taught across the curriculum and that our curriculum gives a high priority to reading for pleasure. We also ensure careful monitoring of reading ability and, where necessary, implement interventions for those that may need extra support.

We include literacy and promote reading in a variety of ways:

The Highdown Reading Strategy

Mentor Sessions

  • Students in Year 7-11 are all currently having a book read to them in their mentor groups, by reading to the, we are able to supplement their learning, explain new vocabulary and interlink ideas to any topics they may have studied in lessons. The range of texts are designed to engage students, promoting a love of reading whilst also providing a challenging wide range of ideas.
    See the new Highdown Canon here!
  • Some less confident readers also receive additional, targeted support in small groups through the Learning Support department or through the peer support and help of Sixth Formers


  • Explicit teaching of tier 2 vocabulary in Key Stage 3, the keywords we are teaching with parental ideas to help consolidate learning is here for Year 7, Year 8, and Year 9
  • Years 7 and 8 take part in Accelerated Reader lessons (further information for parents is here)
  • Promotion of texts to read to enhance curriculum learning (in the newsletter for parents as well as co-curricular texts)
  • Reading of larger extracts in lessons are scaffolded where necessary, providing students with the opportunity to summarise key ideas, with key vocabulary explicitly taught and explained

Whole School Celebration of Literacy

  • Annual Highdown Literary Festival (established 2017)
  • ‘The Hive’ is newly refurbished library open to all with access to books, e-books and audiobooks
  • Students can join the ‘Highdown Herald’ and write for the school newspaper
  • Regular literacy newsletters (see the latest edition here)
  • Regular reading competitions with prizes to promote reading for pleasure
  • Weekly literacy and numeracy challenges
  • Book Clubs students are welcome to join

Why is your child's reading age important?

Reading is important for many varied reasons, from developing an understanding of our world, to building knowledge, to providing a way to relieve stress and add joy to our lives! If students have a higher reading age, they can access a wider range of wonderful texts to read.

The average age to fully understand a GCSE exam paper is 15 years and 7 months (this looks like 15.07 on our reports); your child's latest reading age will be stated on the regular reports we send home. If you would like to know what their reading age 'looks like', please see this document which illustrates the different reading ages.

Strategies to support your child with literacy

  • Talk to your child about what they are reading for pleasure and tell them what you are reading. Maybe you could even read a book together!
  • Take them to local libraries or bookshops and encourage them to select books that they find interesting
  • Year 7 and 8 students are registered on the Accelerated Reader programme. When they have finished a book, encourage them to complete the comprehension and vocabulary quizzes on what they have just read. Encourage your child to read a million words and become a word millionaire! You can log in and complete Accelerated Reader at home too!
  • When completing home learning, help them in correct spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors
  • Encourage your child to write creatively and possibly enter national writing competitions
  • Talk to your child about the work they are doing, ask them to explain something before they write it down – this may promote them into using more developed vocabulary!

Upgrading your vocabulary 

We are proud to be a Word Gap Partner School in association with Oxford University Press. We’re committed to closing
The word gap and improving children’s vocabulary and wider life chances. To find out more about the word gap, visit oxford.ly/wordgap. Here's a short video to introduce the project:

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