'I can do all things with the help of God who strengthens me.' Philippians (4:13)

Reading; A Culture of Learning at St. Edmund's


At St Edmund’s Catholic School we believe that competence in reading is key to independent learning and has a direct impact on children’s progress in learning at

school and beyond. Reading opens countless avenues of exploration and sources of

knowledge to children as it is central to our ability to understand, interpret and

communicate with each other and the world around us. We strive to nurture enthusiastic,

independent, and reflective readers, with a love of reading and a sense of the importance of reading as a strategic tool for life-long learning and success in the world of work.


Every teacher at St. Edmund’s is a teacher of reading and it is important to realise that fluent readers coming up from primary will encounter more complex and subject specific vocabulary in secondary education which some pupils will find difficult to access. Words in everyday English may have different meanings in separate, subject- specific contexts and it is important pupils can distinguish between these changes. The average reading age required to access a GCSE paper is 15 years and 7 months so it is imperative pupils of all ability are supported in their reading to give them the best chance to achieve outstanding progress.


All pupils in Year 7-9 take part in reading tests to gauge their reading age at the end of the summer term. This formalized assessments measure Analysis, Literal comprehension, Inference and Vocabulary to ascertain the pupil’s reading age which should be in line with their chronological age.

Recent News

Portsmouth Book Awards 23

The winning book for 2023 is 'When the World Was Ours' by Liz Kessler. This is fictional book about the Holocaust.  Although is fictional the inspiration for the story is based on a true incident which happened with Liz's father, who is a survivor of the Holocaust.  If you get chance to read this book over the summer, I highly recommend it, a fantastic historical fiction novel, based upon her research and personal family documents.
If you see the following students, can you, please congratulate them!!  Beatrice O - Year 8 who won the School Library Service Reading Champion of the Year 2023! An amazing achievement! She was chosen by the SLS from nominations from all the other schools taking part in the Portsmouth Book Awards 2023.   Also, Joshua P won Best Book cover re-design for his new version of the book 'Furthermoor'.
An amazing afternoon for everybody from St Edmund's Catholic school and it was a real pleasure so see so many young students celebrating reading and all getting a signed copy of the book from the winning author.

Intervention for Improving Readers


Improving Readers have been identified as being below their chronological reading age.


National Tutoring Programme

Pupils identified from the attainment cycle are chosen to take part in small group intervention in the National Tutoring Programme after school. This focuses on building comprehension in the identified pupils in bi-weekly one hour sessions with a trained tutor.


Accelerated Reader

Pupils identified as having a low reading age from the KS3 reading tests or KS2 scaled score take part in the Accelerated Reading programme once a fortnight. Pupils use their spare time and reading lesson to read RA appropriate books and then take a quiz to gauge their understanding, allowing them to progress to the next level.

Intervention for Early Readers


The school has a dedicated phonics specialist that trains staff in their use of phonics for early readers. Staff need to break down more complex subject specific vocabulary for their early readers, and where possible identify them as Phase 1/2/3 sounds so they may know where barriers occur to pupil’s learning. Pupils with a reading age below 9 are identified as ‘Early Readers’.


English KS3 Reading Intervention

Pupils identified from the attainment cycle as underachieving and having a below chronological reading age are chosen to take part in Reading Intervention during the school day. This uses the Accelerated Reading programme to provide a more intensive intervention programme and accelerate pupil progress. Spending an hour once a week rather than once a fortnight can improve reading ages by up to three years over a ten week period (Data from AR pilot programme, Oct 2022).


Reading and SEN

Pupils with Special Educational Needs are supported by Teaching Assistants in class to access the curriculum. Where appropriate TAs will assist pupils in inferring meaning and parsing vocabulary from both fiction and non-fiction texts. TAs will support the teacher in breaking down more complicated vocabulary phonetically.


Reading and EAL

The school has a dedicated EAL team that work closely with pupils to help them in language acquisition. Pupils are taken from non-core subjects once a week to improve vocabulary and comprehension. The majority of pupils are fluent readers in their own language, and this support is designed to build confidence in their reading of English until they are able to engage independently.

Pupil Testimony


I feel passionate about English and Reading. 


English helps us to learn new words, grammar and how to use the English language effectively. Reading helps us to improve our English as it introduces us to new words, vocabulary and helps us to build our confidence to use the new words and speak out loud. An example of this is we express ourselves on job/college applications using words like passionate, confident or confidence, I feel, I think, this is how I can improve. 


Reading out loud can help push us out of our comfort zone in class and encourage others to read. Do we need to feel embarrassed about reading? No, we don't, we can set self-goals to help improve our reading age and ability and we can move onto more interesting books that challenge us as we get more confident. 


Using new words learnt through reading can be used in our English writing lessons to make our stories far more interesting, we could build a picture in our heads of what has been written about. We can use great describing words for example tall, tiny, terrific, happy, hope, and help. You can use verbs to say what characters are doing for example I went swimming with my friend, I was skipping in my garden, I want to run a marathon. 


When I arrived at St Edmunds my reading age was very low, this was due to a combination of not really wanting to read books and then covid. Since starting I have tried really hard to increase my reading age and have been reading nearly every day to my mum, by doing this I'm hoping it will improve my written English and give me more confidence to read out loud. If you are struggling with your English and reading then you too can improve, start with easy to read books until you have the confidence to move to the next level. Do quizzes to test your reading ability and check your understanding, by doing this you will improve your own ability to read, you're understanding and can see how different words are used. You could use phonics that you were taught in Primary School to help you sound out the word, believe in yourself and don’t worry about getting it wrong first time, we all have had to learn to read. Don’t let others put you off if their ability seems higher than your own because with lots of practice you could have the same confidence and be reading the same level of books and be writing the most amazing stories.  


Some reading facts that I found: 

“People that read for pleasure can promote better health and wellbeing.” 

“Statistics show from 2014 that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of eleven.” 

“Further research conducted in 2015 found that a similar percentage of fifteen year olds across England do not have a minimum level of reading.” 

“By the final year of compulsory schooling in England the reading skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average almost three years behind those from the most affluent homes.” 

“In the summer of 2022 GCSE students in England achieving a pass rate of a grade 4 was 73.2% this is the lowest since 2019”. 

Source of this information is The Reading Agency. 


Reading should be enjoyable and having physical books at home is a nice thing to have and gives us time away from devices. I will continue to read to help my reading age increase, to help build my confidence and to help in my English lessons. ' - Finley R, Year 7

Reading Canon - Year 7

Reading Canon - Year 8

Reading Canon - Year 9