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Literacy and Reading


At St. Joseph’s one of our key priorities is not only to equip students with the skills necessary to become a fluent reader, but to foster a love of reading for pleasure so that our students become lifelong readers.


Reading is at the forefront of what we do here at St. Joseph’s and we recognise that reading is the key to success both in the classroom and beyond.

Reading in form time:
Every day begins with reading in form time at both KS3 and KS4 where students are exposed to a range of both fiction and non-fiction texts to broaden their cultural capital and to expose students to a range of genres.

All form tutors utilise the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ approach during form time reading to model and assist students in their comprehension and inference skills as well as their acquirement of new vocabulary.
At St. Joseph’s we recognise that reading is a whole school approach and is a whole school responsibility which is why every department in school has the opportunity to contribute to the range of texts we read in form time. This aids students with the knowledge to apply their skills in reading across a multitude of subjects, not just in English.
Reciprocal Reading support sheet for students (1) (1)

Staff work together to promote a positive reading culture in school by:

  • Displaying which book they are currently reading on their email signatures.
  • Displaying which book they are currently reading on their classroom doors.
  • Promoting ‘Book of the Month’
  • Taking part in our World Book Day celebrations every March.


Reading for pleasure:

As one of our key priorities is to encourage our students to become lifelong readers, we work hard as a school to promote reading for pleasure.
At St. Joseph’s, we are extremely lucky to have Mrs Wylie who is our school librarian. Mrs Wylie is knowledgeable about the most recent YA fiction and works hard to keep our library up to date with novels that our students are interested in. Mrs Wylie works in partnership with Mrs Mitchell and the English department to feed into our reading intervention programme to ensure that all students are reading a book that is appropriate for their current reading age.


Student testimonies:


“The library is a resourceful place with a pleasant and happy librarian who is always willing to help.”

  • Rhya, Year 7

“The library is a nice, quiet place to focus on independent reading. Our library is easy to use and Mrs Wylie keeps it stocked with a range of books for us to read.”

  • Jessica, Year 7

“The library is really engaging place and Mrs Wylie helps all students to find the best book for them. There’s a wide variety of books to choose from in our library and it is a comfortable place to sit in and read.”

  • Igor, Year 7

“I like coming to the library in form time because it is a calming place and helps me focus before I go to all of my lessons.”

  • Roick, Year 7



Book of the Month:
Each month we promote a ‘Book of the Month’ that is available in our school library for students to read.
Some examples of our past ‘Book of the Month’ titles are:

‘PAX’ by Sara Pennypacker

‘Cogheart’ by Peter Bunzl

‘Paper Butterflies’ by Lisa Heathfield

‘I Have No Secrets’ by Penny Joelson


KS3 and KS4 recommended reading lists:
We regularly update our recommended reading lists for KS3 and KS4 which can be found here:

Reading across the curriculum:
All students are required to read in all subjects across the curriculum and are given the opportunity to do so in all lessons.

We are currently working to embed the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ approach across subjects so that there is a shared language amongst staff and students with regards to reading. This approach is supported through trained staff within school in partnership with FFT and WELL Cumbria.


Reading interventions: 
There are a number of reading interventions currently taking place within school to guide and support students’ skills in decoding, reading fluency and comprehension.
Mrs Mitchell oversees the reading intervention process in school and works with the data from the termly NGRT reading tests to inform her interventions.

  • Phonics intervention programme where students work on a one-to-one basis or within small groups to fill any gaps in their phonics knowledge to improve their current reading age.
  • A number of staff in school are trained in phonics intervention alongside Mrs Mitchell such as Mrs Shillito and Miss Carruthers, who are based in our Learning Support department. The Assistant Head, Mrs Fillingham and the SENDCo, Mrs Mason-Miller have also completed the phonics intervention training.
  • Phonics intervention has had a significant impact on the decoding and reading progress in a number of our students in the 2022-2023 academic year and is an intervention programme which is highly valued by our students.
  • This year, 35 students were identified as requiring specific phonics and reading intervention to improve their decoding and reading fluency.


Statistics and evidence of phonics intervention impact:

  • 10 students were involved in the ‘virtual classroom’ programme facilitated by ‘Fresh Start’. 8 out of the 10 students involved in this programme made progress and reached the required level of improvement.
  • 8 students took part in the programme on a one-to-one basis and all 8 students made significant progress which meant there was no further intervention needed. This was monitored and assessed by Mrs Mitchell and further testing demonstrated that there was a positive correlation with improved reading ages as a result of this targeted intervention.
  • 17 students are now currently taking part in the phonics intervention programme and will be assessed to obtain their progress before the end of the summer term.



Although reading is the key to success, we also understand that understanding of vocabulary contributes to the overall success in reading.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, we have worked as a school to introduce specific vocabulary teaching during form time through ‘Word of the Week’. Students are introduced to new vocabulary at the beginning of the week through a ‘Frayer Model’. The ‘Frayer Model’ helps students to navigate their understanding of new vocabulary through understanding the definition, synonyms and antonyms and use of the new word within a sentence. Students are then challenged to use the ‘Word of the Week’ across the curriculum within the week and beyond.
Students complete a baseline test of all new vocabulary before it is explicitly taught in form time and then are re-tested at the end of each term to assess the impact of this specific vocabulary teaching.

This year we have utilised ‘Language Mastery’ in a number of subjects across the curriculum where students keep a track of the new vocabulary they are introduced to in each unit of learning within a subject. Students are then tested on the spellings and definitions of this new vocabulary at the end of each unit. This is another vocabulary initiative we are currently embedding across the school.


Raising the standards in Oracy, public speaking and eloquence is also a key priority at St. Joseph’s where we hope to embed the reading and vocabulary knowledge with the art of public speaking so that our students are equipped for life beyond school.
Mrs Kim leads on Oracy within school and provides CPD for all staff on how to promote effective Oracy across the curriculum.
During this academic year, we have seen our Oracy strategies have a significant impact on student confidence in public speaking and an improvement in students being eloquent and articulate.
This has been demonstrated not only in English lessons, but across the curriculum in Computer Science and Engineering.

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