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 teaching through subject areas.

Reading, vocabulary and wider literacy is a critically important part of the curriculum. Pupils’ spelling (encoding), reading (decoding) and progress across English (as well as maths and Science) is assessed bi-annually using the online GL Assessment tests.

Staff use the outcomes of these assessments to:

  • Plan for individual need
  • Set the pace and challenge of the curriculum
  • Personalise Reading and Literacy focuses within lessons.

Reading Lessons

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 phonic and grapheme knowledge, and support progress.

Reciprocal Reading

 Pupils whose phonemic (sounds) and grapheme knowledge ((how those sounds are spelt) are more secure, will engage with the Reciprocal Reading programme. This is a text-rich intervention, which focuses 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 around (amongst other things)  plot, character, vocabulary and narrative devices using the four structured areas for interrogation. There is a huge emphasis on inference and using the language within the text to frame discussion around both literal and abstract concepts.

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 per 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 Levels

At Northgate, pupils are levelled in order ensure that their reading development remains consistently monitored, and language acquisition and they are cumulatively exposed to reading skills and knowledge at the appropriate time in their learning journey.

Our pupils will be assessed, and will then be placed at an appropriate point on our reading journey-aka The Reading Mountain; these are:

Rookie Readers: (for pupils who need to secure phonic and grapheme knowledge)

Rookie Readers will be in receipt of Read Write Inc. Fresh Start 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.

Developing Readers: (for pupils whose phoneme/ grapheme and wider Literacy is developing )

Developing Readers  will be in receipt of Read Write Inc. Fresh Start intervention (mid-module stages)  and will access 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, accuracy and fluency.

Veteran Readers: (for pupils who are secure in their reading comprehension and phoneme/grapheme knowledge and application)

Veteran Readers  will be in receipt of Reciprocal Reading support, designed to stretch and challenge pupils’ ability to comprehend and apply a range of more complex reading strategies  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 access many of the reading task accessible on the Oak National Academy, which can be accessed here

Reading Books for home learning:

(In 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 per 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 Log Sept 2020

Please see more details about our Reading Rationale, in our Parent Letter here:

Reading Lessons Parent letter Sept 2020

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

Our Apprentice Librarian 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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