Research School Network: Case study: Strategies to prioritise reading in KS3 Strategies to prioritise reading in KS3 to allow access to a full curriculum offer and develop competent and confident reading


Case study: Strategies to prioritise reading in KS3

Strategies to prioritise reading in KS3 to allow access to a full curriculum offer and develop competent and confident reading

by Huntington Research School
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In my role as School Improvement Lead (English) I carried out supported reviews into reading across all schools in the trust to inform actions for a trust wide reading strategy. The reviews highlighted school leadership recognising the importance of reading as the master skill’, and as such schools have a designated reading leader(s) that I collaborate with to drive developments both at a school and trust level. Trust wide collaboration will support leaders and staff to provide opportunities to develop reading pedagogy to allow learners to access a wide range of reading material which is age appropriate. The reading strategy is informed by evidence reviews and current DfE guidance and will focus on three core strands:

- reading for purpose across all subjects
- support for struggling and/​or lower ability readers
- reading independently and for pleasure

The reviews carried out revealed the need for greater consistency in arrangements to assess reading ages at KS3 and subsequently plan to deliver age-appropriate reading tasks as well as diagnose barriers and inform actions to support catch up. After a trial within one school in the trust, the strategy will provide all learners in Year 7 – 9 access to two sittings’ of the Hodder Access Reading Tests, one to be completed at the start of the academic year and a follow up assessment in the summer term. This will provide a reading age and a Standardised Score which can be shared with teaching staff to ensure lexile appropriate texts are used with cohorts of learners and also to inform learners who may need additional support in reading.

While planning this strategy, I used two EEF documents to support: the Guide to School Improvement Planning 2021/22 and the EEF implementation plan (although I found it beneficial to create an individual implementation plan for each of the three strands).

Below are the strategies for how KS3 reading will be developed and supported as part of the trust wide strategy using the three tiered sections of the school improvement planning guidance.

Teaching – Reading for purpose across all subjects:


As part of the trust wide reading strategy, CPDL will ensure quality first reading teaching. This will be bespoke and can be provided at individual/​faculty/​school or trust level. The CPDL is based on recommendations 1 – 3 of the EEF guidance report for improving literacy in secondary schools.

The evidence is explicit on the need for a clear focus on the promotion of disciplinary reading (what it means to read like a historian/​scientist etc) and effective academic vocabulary instruction, as well as a consistent school/​trust wide approach to text comprehension to ensure reading is a transferrable skill across subjects.

Explicit reading comprehension strategies will support teachers to deliver shared reading of texts. There will be consistency in approach as the model will support delivery of activities to plan before, during and after conducting a shared read of texts across subjects:

- before (activating prior knowledge and pre-selecting words to be explicitly taught)
- during (strategies to deliver whole class reading, supported by evidence led research – for example the attached blog Who should read aloud in class? (theconfidentteacher.com))
- after (including summarising and questioning to retrieve information or infer/​justify ideas from a text).

Targeted Interventions – Support for struggling and/​or lower ability readers


Recommendation 7 of the Secondary Literacy guidance report states:

Assessment should be used to match students to appropriate types of intervention, and to monitor the impact of interventions”.


The Access Reading Tests provide robust data to analyse year group, class and individual data sets to inform cohorts benefitting from additional support. Interventions required for catch up, will focus on word recognition and/​or language comprehension. Furthermore, as phonics knowledge embeds the foundations for future learning, collaboration across settings will ensure relevant staff are experts in early reading to develop a culture for reading fluency for stage not age, as well as further investment in intervention programs such as Read, Write Inc Fresh Start, Lexia and Lexonik in the secondaries. Support will be provided to monitor interventions to ensure impact is analysed and adjustments made as appropriate.

Wider Strategies – Reading Independently and for pleasure


A greater awareness of what fluency in reading means will inform the last part of the strategy to develop pupils’ independent reading abilities. The recently updated EEF guidance report for Improving Literacy in KS2 has the addition of a graphic to clarify what reading fluency, particularly with regards to the aspects of accuracy, automaticity and prosody. This is referred to and developed further in the recent EEF blog which seeks to clarify misunderstandings about reading fluency and provides ways to make fluency instruction an integral and important part of literacy education at all school levels.

With regards to reading for pleasure, schools will continue to promote an ethos and culture of reading and foster a love of reading through promotion of the library and celebration of texts. Schools will provide plenty of opportunity to read for pleasure and platforms such as Reading Plus and Accelerated Reader will be used to focus identified learners to develop reading fluency to enable successful independent reading.

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