Literacy, Reading & Communication

Reading is a critical part of life-especially for young people with additional needs. It affects every aspect of pupils’ development, self-esteem, personal and social confidence. Without the ability to read (at one’s optimal level) hugely important life goals, such as employment, further study or simply making a positive contribution to society in whatever way, suddenly become less attainable. The goal is simple:

  • get our pupils speaking confidently, with increased understanding and vocabulary;
  • get our pupils reading a wide range of interesting texts that challenge as well as build on previous knowledge, and widen their understanding of the world;
  • get our pupils writing- in full sentences and with knowledge, accuracy and confidence.

At Northgate, Reading and Literacy are delivered in two distinct ways:

  • Reading lessons.
  • Disciplinary and substantive teaching through subject areas.

In addition to reading lessons, pupils are levelled to ensure that their reading development remains consistently monitored, and they are cumulatively exposed to greater skills and knowledge at appropriate times in their learning journey.  The reading of wider texts is integrated to each pupil’s reading offer, as well as, and In addition to the specific reading programmes and interventions they will access during reading lessons.

As we know, reading, for some of our pupils, has been a patchy, unfulfilling and sometimes difficult affair, therefore, we want to work to ensure that (as far as possible) we:

  1. build and secure background knowledge;
  2. develop and expose all pupils to a range of rich vocabulary;
  3. use abstract imagery and metaphorical language (especially in or English curriculum and in Reciprocal Reading sessions);
  4. insist on full sentences in written work and spoken language;
  5. sequence pupils’ learning around narrative and whole-text structures
  6. support pupils in navigating generic elements of a text: e.g. biographical accounts in History
  7. provide scaffolds for language through: Colourful Semantics, key word glossaries and word walls;
  8. focus on text length and writing for purpose.

    (ref: Quigley, 2020; Rose, J 2009)


    Reading, vocabulary and wider literacy is a critically important part of the curriculum. Pupils’ spelling (encoding), reading (decoding), comprehension skills, fluency and (amongst other things) progress across English is assessed bi-annually using the online GL Assessment tests for spelling (NGST), reading (NGRT) and progress in English (PTE). Staff also refer to each pupil’s Education Health and Care Plan, as well as their National Curriculum data and additional specialist assessment, as appropriate.

    Staff use the outcomes of these assessments to:

    • plan for individual need;
    • set the pace, depth and challenge of the curriculum;
    • personalise reading and literacy focuses within lessons.

    Reading Lessons

    Pupils access up to 4 Reading lessons per week. This is because we want to ensure that the specific skill of reading is not left to chance, but is recognised as a key curriculum focus for all.

    Based on assessment data, pupils will access one of the following programmes as the the main element of their Reading offer:

    Read Write Inc. & Read Write Inc. Fresh Start

    Pupils who require significant support with their reading and spelling, will be assessed further using the Read Write Inc. Fresh Start programme.  The Fresh Start programme is designed to help pupils to close gaps, secure phoneme and grapheme knowledge, and support progress towards accuracy and fluency.

    Reciprocal Reading

    Pupils whose phoneme and grapheme knowledge is more secure, and will engage with the Reciprocal Reading programme. This is (amongst other things) a text-rich, vocabulary-rich, inference-rich intervention, which builds social communication and textual confidence by focusing on four areas of reading comprehension and reciprocal communication:

    • Questioning
    • Clarification
    • Summary
    • Prediction

    Reciprocal Reading is especially effective for our autistic learners, as it focuses on exploration of  language through discussion aspects of textual detail and narrative features, such as plot, character, vocabulary, language, structure, form and devices using the four structured areas of interrogation. There is a huge emphasis on inference and using the language within the text to frame discussion and response around both literal and abstract concepts.

    Reading for Pleasure

    The Oak National Academy Virtual School Library

    Each week a popular children’s author or illustrator will provide you with free books, exclusive videos and their top three recommended reads.

    Having access to a school library is really important for children. School libraries nurture a love of reading that can enrich children’s literacy skills, academic achievements and mental wellbeing.  You can access the Oak Virtual Library here!

    Reading Records and Reading at Home 

    Due to the current situation, all reading instruction is done in school. However, under normal circumstances, pupils in Key Stage 3 and Pathway 1 in Key Stage 4, who require additional reading support at home will:

    1. Participate in either Read Write Inc. Fresh Start or Reciprocal Reading in their Reading lessons.
    2. Access their designated book (which will be communicated by your child’s teacher via their Home/School book) on:

    Which can be found here:

    1. (Under normal circumstances) Pupils will borrow a text for home from the school library, where they will directed to their appropriate level of home reader.

    We then expect parents to read with children at least 3 times a week, record progress in their child’s Reading Record, and then return both the reading books and Reading Record (signed, with comments made) to school.

    1. Pupils will then receive a new book for the new cycle of home reading on their allocated ‘Borrow Day’.

    Reading for Pleasure

    The Oak National Academy Virtual School Library

    Pupils who are considered to be ‘Free Readers’ can access texts via the Oak Virtual School Library here!

    We also suggest parents and carers access resources from sites, such as Audible (here)  which can also be accessed via our Home Learning Hub timetable. However, we advise that this will incur a cost, and that content and access should be monitored by parents and carers carefully.

    Reading Levels: Wider Reading & Library Access

    In addition to their in-class reading programme, and as part of our drive to develop and embed  a vibrant reading culture, our pupils are placed at an appropriate point on our reading journey-aka The Reading Mountain; these are:

    Rookie Readers: (for pupils who need to secure phoneme/grapheme knowledge and are working at early reading levels)

    Rookie Readers will be in receipt of Read Write Inc. intervention (phonics/ grapheme/decoding early stages) and will access Read Write Inc. Fresh start reading books, designed to consolidate the skills taught in the programme.

    Rookie Readers may (as they become secure in their initial phoneme/grapheme knowledge) also access Oxford Reading Tree and simple texts, which will support reading confidence and emerging fluency.  However, the priority at this stage is the securing of phoneme/grapheme knowledge and building sound reading habits and confidence.

    Developing Readers: (for pupils requiring early reading consolidation, and whose wider Literacy skills are developing )

    Developing Readers  will access Read Write Inc. Fresh Start intervention (mid-module stages)  and study more complex Read Write Inc. Fresh start reading books, designed to further consolidate the skills taught in the programme.

    Developing Readers will also access the Oxford Reading Tree series and, as appropriate, more challenging texts, which will continue to support reading confidence, language development; and build sight vocabulary, accuracy and fluency.

    Veteran Readers: (for pupils who are secure in their reading comprehension and phoneme/grapheme knowledge and application, and are able to retrieve and apply higher-order strategies with growing sophistication)

    Veteran Readers  will access Reciprocal Reading instruction, designed to stretch and challenge their ability to comprehend and apply a range of more complex reading strategies, vocabulary and communication skills at a higher level.

    Veteran Readers will also access the more complex and challenging texts, which continue to support reading confidence, language development, accuracy and fluency.

    They will be able to choose their own ‘Veteran Texts’ aka. Free Books.

    Veteran readers may also attempt many of the reading tasks accessible on the Oak National Academy, which can be accessed here

    The Northgate Library: borrowing books

    We are a Capita Reading Cloud School! 

    Therefore, when your child borrows a book, they will access the Reading Cloud system using their electronic library card.

    Our Library Apprentices, JR, CP and PB will be on hand to scan all pupils’ books and help them with any queries.

    Reading Books for home learning:

    (Under normal circumstances) Pupils in Key Stage 3 and Pupils in Pathway 1 of Key Stage 4 will be given a home reading text once a week:

    KS3 Borrow Days:

    Year 7 – Mondays

    Year 8-   Fridays

    Year 9-   Fridays

    KS4 Borrow Days (Pathway 1 pupils only): – Mondays

    Please note, reading books should be returned weekly on your child’s allocated ‘Borrow day’.

    Reading Logs:

    Staff will listen to pupils read once a week. All reading progress will be recorded in each pupil’s Reading Log. You can see a copy of, and download a Reading Log here:

    Reading Record Feb 2021 v1

    Please use the links embedded in the letter to support your child’s reading at home.

    Our Apprentice Librarians is on hand to look after our books, keep the library in good order and continue to ensure that all pupils are able to access their chosen texts in good time, and that books are kept in good order.

    With his help, we will be launching our new Capita Electronic Library system very soon!

    Luke gets more independent and confident with everyterm and year spent at Northgate and his smile and happiness radiates to all he comes into contact with.

    Nicki Thomas


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