The English Department want to keep you informed about the ways we continue to develop reading skills across secondary school, and of the ways you can support your child’s reading progress.
Reading for Pleasure
Personal reading is a key component of our curriculum. In weekly English classes, with the support of their teachers and our librarians, pupils from S1-S4 select books from our well-stocked library. In S1-S3 pupils are required to read their book once a week in class. There is an expectation that they continue to read these books at home. Ideally, reading should be a daily habit of around 30 minutes.
In addition, once a week in tutor time (usually Tuesday), the whole school – staff and pupils- read their books. This is our ERIC (Everyone Reading in Class) session. If your child forgets their reading book, each class has a stock of fiction and non-fiction which they can choose from.
In school, we take advantage of numerous opportunities to promote reading through reading challenges, Scottish Book Week, National Poetry Day, ERIC, World Book Day and at school events such as our Community Cafes.
Reading at Home
You can support your child to read at home in a number of ways. You can discuss their fiction choices with them, or ask about the character and plot development and the style and structure, or how a film version compares to the book. You can model this to them by talking about your own reading preferences and choices and by showing them how much you value reading.
We know that in an increasingly technological age, books can be a very unattractive choice for young people. While reading from screens is still reading and is valuable (see Reading for Information below), they cannot be the only source of reading for a child. Research has shown that the light from screens prevents us from relaxing at bedtime.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be helped by a book at bedtime, helping your child relax, use their imagination and set themselves up for a hard day’s learning at school.
Reading materials are the models from which children learn to write. As we know, so much of what we read online is misspelled (or has American standard spellings), is ungrammatical or lacking correct punctuation. Therefore, if a child is only seeing incorrect language, spelling mistakes are continuously being reinforced.
Reading for pleasure doesn’t just mean reading novels. Reading magazines, newspapers, autobiographies and other non-fiction is also really valuable. You can support this by providing magazines and articles which match your and their interests in sports, cookery, film and TV, nature etc.
Reading out loud doesn’t need to stop at the end of P7. All children progress at different rates. They will have made huge progress in their reading ability through Primary school and this has to continue through Secondary. Reading aloud is an important element of reading development and can be much more effective when the child is at home, rather than in front of a class. This could be done, for example, by asking the child to read a newspaper or magazine article out loud, and supporting them in working out the pronunciation and meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.
Reading for Information is an integral part of all learning. Children are often required to research a topic for homework. You can support this by encouraging good habits early on, through:
- getting your child to write down what they have read in their own words (rather than copy and paste!)
- helping them recognise when they are quoting from a text
- noting the source of their information (website, author, date, version)
- questioning the reliability of their sources- is what the article says factually correct? Is it biased or neutral? Does it present a single point of view or a range of opinions? Who has published it?
- Encouraging them to use a variety of sources- show them that research doesn’t have to start with google or Siri! The school and local library, your own books or magazines and human beings are all excellent ways of finding information.
Reading in English
In addition to personal reading, pupils will read and study a range of texts, including prose fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and drama. In English we use these as models for successful writing and to develop the skills and vocabulary of analysing and evaluating texts. From S1, pupils are taught ‘close reading’ (RUAE or comprehension), textual analysis and critical evaluation (essay writing). Texts to be studied are selected by the teacher and will be chosen to reflect the interests and abilities of the pupils. Writers we study include: Edwin Morgan, William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Carol Ann Duffy, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, Alan Spense and many more.
In S3 and S4, one lesson per week is dedicated to Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation (RUAE) to develop the reading skills required at qualification level.
As your child approaches the Senior Phase, they need to be making increasingly sophisticated reading choices. The National 5 English exam is designed to test which young people have the reading skills of a literate adult.
The Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation exam consists of an unseen, non-fiction text (usually a magazine or newspaper article from The Scotsman, The Herald etc) and a series of questions which test understanding, analysis and evaluation of detailed language use. In particular, the higher order reading skills of inference (the ability to ‘read between the lines’), summarising and the identification of tone and bias are tested at this stage.
The Critical Reading exam consists of Textual Analysis of one Scottish Text (selected from a list of set texts) and one Critical Essay on a text in a different genre (poetry, prose, drama, or film) selected by the teacher.
These skills are taught in school, both in English and across the curriculum, and you can support this learning by offering your child the opportunity to read and discuss similar texts – particularly non-fiction articles- with them.
Sources of Support
In secondary school, teachers of all subjects support pupils’ progress in reading through the materials that they provide (textbooks, handouts, worksheets etc) and the sources they suggest. The skills of reading which are taught in English are regularly reinforced across the curriculum.
The LRC are an excellent source of support for all our pupils, providing support in Literacy across the curriculum during the day and by supporting research and homework before and after school and at lunchtimes.
Pupils with reading difficulties are supported in school by the Support for Pupils department. SfP staff also work with teachers in differentiating texts for pupils and enabling pupils to access texts in different formats.
Parents can find additional sources of support at home through:
The Scottish Book Trust – a huge amount of resources to support reading and writing for children and adults across Scotland
CALL Scotland – a range of (free) support (including digital texts) for children with dyslexia or visual impairments
Weblinks – the LRC has given all pupils a password to enable them to access the site at school or at home (particularly useful for research tasks)
GLOW – all pupils have a GLOW password which they can access at home which has some excellent resources for supporting reading and literacy
We are very grateful for the support of parents and hope that by supporting our children’s reading journey together we are making a significant contribution to their learning and achievement.
If you have further questions about reading in school, please get in touch.