“Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.'
- Frederick Douglass

Our aim is for students to leave Coundon Court having had a rich and positive experience of reading multiple, diverse, challenging and beautifully crafted works of fiction and non-fiction. Our curriculum aims to provide our students with reading opportunities that not only ignites their imagination but also creates an empathy that feeds into everything they do: understanding of the past, forming of relationships and everyday interactions. Reading enables you to become more knowledgeable about the world. That’s what we want for our students: knowledge. Knowledge is power.

Why is reading so powerful? Why, is the key question that underpins our reading curriculum. Why is the character behaving in this way? Why am I enjoying or not enjoying this book? Why have these things happened? Why does this experiment happen in this way? Why did these events take place at that point in history? The Coundon way of reading is to challenge; to ask why. This feeds into every aspect of life as well as our curriculum.

Not only does reading help your understanding of yourself but it helps you understand others too. Reading shouldn’t be passive, it must be active and encourage you to interrogate and challenge everything you read whether that be fiction or non-fiction. Whilst fiction teaches you to walk in someone else’s shoes; non-fiction teaches you about the importance of different perspectives: there’s not one version, everything else is subjective and down to interpretation. Non-fiction is about critical thinking and reading.

Finally, we want our curriculum to prepare our students for the complexities of the texts they will encounter, both fiction and non-fiction as they progress through school, higher education and the world beyond education. We aim to teach our students how to navigate the more subtle conventions of different genres so that they are able to unlock these academic registers independently.

The Coundon way of reading in a classroom involves using one of the five reading routines established across our curriculum. Students will be guided to develop and practice this core set of reading strategies in order to enable them to read with intent and interrogation.

  1. Question the text
  2. Summarise the text or sections of the text
  3. Clarify what you have read
  4. Predict what will happen
  5. Justify your view

Students must be taught how to read. Not simply reading the words or reading for meaning but reading with a clear intention and goal that is activated by prior knowledge. Each subject area prioritises reading and therefore meaningful and varied opportunities for reading are built into the curriculum sequence across all key stages. Increasingly, subject areas aim to explore what it means to read through the lens of their specific discipline as we ask questions such as; ‘What does it mean to read like a scientist and how is this different to reading like a historian?’

Reading is also a core part of our wider curriculum, with all pupils at KS3 having timetabled library lessons and identified opportunities for pupils at KS4 and KS5 to engage with the library as a space for both academic study and personal reading for pleasure. Our reading curriculum aims to ensure our students become critical readers who are empowered to interrogate information presented to them in texts.

Co-curriculum Enrichment

At Coundon Court, our library is the beating of heart of the school; with our librarian guiding students in their quest to find the right book for them, she is relentless in her drive to share her love for reading and the message that there is no such thing as someone who dislikes reading, only someone who hasn’t found the right book for them.

Our library is open to our students before school, during break times and after school every day until 4pm for students to continue their reading for pleasure or take part in our book clubs too whether that be the Year 7 Book Club or the Carnegie Award shortlist.

Reading interventions

Every student has the right to an education; their education starts with the ability to read with intent. At Coundon Court, we understand that providing additional reading support for our students must be a collective effort in order to ensure all of our students have the best chance at success: not just in their attainment levels but in their futures. Every member of staff that works directly with our students is responsible for supporting the reading development of our students whether they work as part of our pastoral team or our teaching team.

All of our students complete a NGRT reading test when they arrive at Coundon Court, in order to determine the reading age of each individual student and begin targeting students with the level of support and intervention that may be necessary. Those students who are not yet `Secondary ready` in terms of their reading ages will be allocated to a specific reading intervention that will support them in developing their reading ability.

Reading ages are a tool for our teaching staff: helping them design accessible lessons with an appropriate level of challenge for students of all reading abilities. When students have completed their NGRT reading test, they will be allocated to the appropriate intervention where necessary whether that is a Guided Reading group that focuses on inference based tasks for discussion or Toe by Toe, a structured 1:1 phonics’ based reading programme or Fresh Start a Direct Instruction led programme delivered in small groups with a phonics’ based approach to reading that is context driven within a text. Our Guided Reading groups receive two 15 minute slots of reading per week, our Toe by Toe students receive two 15 minute sessions per week and our Fresh Start groups receive three 50 minute sessions a week.