‘Reading is one of the strongest indicators of future earnings.  Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status’ (OECD, 2002 - Research evidence on reading for pleasure - Education standards research team)

Research from the OECD suggests that children who come from more challenging, deprived backgrounds, but engage with reading well, perform better than children from more affluent backgrounds, who do not engage with reading. Reading is the lever to success for our pupils, across a range of subjects (OECD, 2002,. ‘Reading for change. Performance and engagement across countries. Results from PISA 2000’)



At Hartshill Academy we have three main strategies to support pupils to develop and extend their reading and reading comprehension.

  1. Reading and the School Library

Our School Librarian supports our pupils to engage in reading through the library. Pupils can access a large range of books in the library, with the School Librarian working with groups on more focused areas, with a focus on engagement, enrichment and widening range of texts.


  1. Reading Plus

Reading Plus is an adaptive literacy solution that improves fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, stamina, and motivation. All pupils have a Reading Plus login. Pupils in Year 7 will be utilising Reading Plus in a designated reading slot in their timetable.

  1. The Reading Canon

Stories, Daniel Willingham tells us, are cognitively privileged. We pay special attention to them. This you could argue has an evolutionary basis.  For hundreds of thousands of years before there was written language we communicated our knowledge, our cumulative culture and our norms for community & belonging via stories, told sitting around fires. People who listened and learned thrived. People who did not were less likely to. We learned and probably evolved to pay attention when a story was told. And we also probably learned that sharing stories was how we built an ‘us’. Shared stories are critical to belonging.

Reading aloud to pupils is a strategy for reading that works in two ways.

Firstly, through exposure to texts that they would not necessarily have chosen before, pupils can be exposed to new vocabulary, syntactic structures and cultural knowledge that they may not have been exposed to without this reading programme.

Secondly, reading aloud as opposed to silent reading significantly helps those pupils who struggle to decode words on their own and do not have the fluency required to be able to make sense and comprehend what they are reading.

In Years 7-9 (Year 10 in 2024), pupils have a designated lesson for reading, with Year 7 pupils having an additional lesson for Reading Plus work. In this time, pupils read, with their teacher, a book, together, from the Reading Canon. Books have been carefully chosen to match need, broaden horizons and develop reading ability.


As teachers, this will mean reading a book aloud to pupils whilst they follow along with their own copies of the books. All of the books are suitable for the pupils’ age groups and have been specifically chosen for the reason of exposing pupils to ideas that they might not have encountered before, thus widening their cultural capital.

Year 7:

Shadows of the Silver Screen by Christopher Edge

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Medusa – Graphic Novel by Jessie Burton

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Melissa by Alex Gino


Year 8:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

How to be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Year 9:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

1984 by George Orwell

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Witch Child by Celia Rees

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen


If you have any questions about reading please contact:

Miss A Walters - English Assistant Director of Learning -