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Finch Woods Academy


Literacy is a whole school priority at Finch Woods Academy and when it comes to reading and writing (and oracy for that matter) we place competency as a priority across the curriculum. In 2020 – 2021 we will continue our focus on developing reading skills of all pupils across the full curriculum.

When pupils join our school, we often find that Literacy is a huge barrier to learning. Many pupils have gaps in their learning, or have struggled to keep up with their peers in mainstream schools. At Finch Woods Academy, we work to remove those barriers, giving pupils a fresh start; concentrating on key life literacy skills, and approaching learning and literacy in creative ways.  

At Finch Woods Academy, everyone reads. It is expected. It may be at different levels and in different contexts; one may have a fishing magazine while another is enjoying a meatier text, but there is something for everyone. The staff of Finch Woods Academy are confident in their conversations with pupils about reading and we have a number of displays that celebrate the importance of reading for our pupils.

For a small school we offer access to an extensive library of texts. In the school building, we have a space dedicated to books and reading skills. However, the books available also extend to an online library that pupils can access on reading tablets. Pupils can often be found taking the lead in choosing texts for pleasure reads. When we read for enjoyment, it is important that our interests are catered to so the pupils take the initiative. Last year we appointed Reading Ambassadors in the school to promote new texts and help pupils find texts that may interest them. We use pupil voice to purchase new reading books for the library every few weeks. This keeps our reading offer fresh and up to date. The books we read are often future award winners and we ensure that pupils have access to the most current literature available.

Every day, pupils have reading time on their timetable. This could be group reading as a form, independent reading of a book that they have chosen from the library, or paired reading with a member of staff. For a few, Sonny the school dog becomes a reading buddy. For an unconfident reader, reading to a non-judgemental furry friend can offer them a ‘way in’. Sonny the rescue dog serves as a reading buddy to some of our pupils. Always happy for a calm voice and a friendly cuddle, we combine reading time with the relaxing experience of spending time with him to develop pupil confidence, and a love for reading time.

Our pupils thrive from practical and kinaesthetic areas of the curriculum and we have found opportunities to embrace texts and reading in these contexts. Our Forest School and Outdoor Education classes use map reading, breaking down decoding skills for practical purposes. Our enrichment activities include motor mechanics with instructional materials to aid pupil understanding of car maintenance. Our governors come to the school and read with pupils. The pupil voice research shows how pupils have moved from having little confidence in their skills, to finding reading “relaxing” and “a way to chill out”.  

We are all on a reading journey, and with new pupils starting all the time it is ongoing but our successes are growing. All pupils have reading passports with rewards for effort and these have proven popular in increasing the quantity of reading. However, the quality of our readers is best testimony to our success. In recent years, we have celebrated pupils whose reading abilities have grown to such an extent that they exceed the age charts available in school.

For pupils who do not have abilities in line with age expectations, there is a range of support in place. Pupils may find themselves with an adult reading buddy in reading time; they may enjoy additional reading support through time in the intervention room; or they may use the Lexia Intervention programme as a bespoke package to meet their individual needs. Texts are always age and stage appropriate. We use Accelerated Reader to track progress in reading and are fortunate to have two English specialists available in school so that there is always a capacity to meet need. Reading training for all staff is ongoing and our offer is continuously evolving. If you have any ideas of how we could improve reading at Finch Woods Academy further, please share them with Mrs Rhead or Mr Harvey.

Subject Development Plan Download
Whole School Reading List Download
Reading in Lockdown by Tristen Roberts Download