Reading Groups

Developing a life-long love of reading

At Bolingbroke Academy we are committed to developing confident and enthusiastic readers. Research has shown that reading for pleasure is important in improving children’s life chances; according to the OECD, “Finding ways to engage pupils in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change” (Reading for Change, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2002.)

We have high expectations of our pupils and we are all committed to doing everything needed to ensure that each child succeeds which is why we set aside curriculum time every day and dedicate it to reading.

Bolingbroke has been awarded the British Dyslexia Association's Quality Mark for good dyslexia-friendly practice across the school. This means that as a school we are committed to ensuring the whole school ethos and environment is rooted in an informed and empathic approach towards dyslexia. The reading programme plays a leading role in this dyslexia-friendly good practice allowing pupils to develop their literacy skills within a supportive environment.

The central purpose of the Bolingbroke Academy reading group programme is to ensure that all pupils read for pleasure and develop a lifelong love of reading. We want every pupil to be in line with or above their chronological reading age, reading for pleasure and fully accessing the curriculum without literacy barriers.

We understand that many pupils start their secondary education having encountered a number of barriers to reading for pleasure. For example, pupils have had no experience of enjoying books; their interactions with books have been negative due to reading difficulties or poor book choice and reading is not given status in the family or with immediate peers.

The Research and Development leader at the Academy has overall responsibility for the reading group programme but all staff in the academy are responsible for teaching and encouraging reading. All adults in the academy are readers and teachers of reading; staff model good reading habits.


The format of our reading groups

The reading groups are held every day, Year 7 pupils before lunch from 11.45am – 12.10pm and Year 8 and 9 pupils immediately after lunch from 1.45pm – 2.10pm.  Pupils are grouped by ability and there are currently 13 groups in Year 7 and 21 groups in Years 8 and 9.

The reading groups are based on the Guided Reading model which consists of:

Book introduction
Walk through the text
Independent reading
Returning to the text for teaching points
Responding to the text and follow up

Reading tutors are encouraged to structure the time into three sections: a five minute recap of the story /suggestions of reading strategies or walk through the text followed by 15 minutes of independent reading and closing with 5 minutes of discussion, using the prompt questions provided.

See a summary of the Reading Group curriculum Reading Group curriculum summary.pdf

Some of the books we have been reading can be seen here 150212Readingbooks.pdf

To browse all the books we have in the academy library click here


Reading group activities

The reading tutors use a variety of methods to engage the pupils including drama, art inspired by the story, creating family trees, keeping a scrap book or writing blogs. Giving pupils specific roles within the groups works well and has been adopted by a number of groups. There is a consensus however on what the pupil should gain from the reading group. They should understand the text, make connections with existing knowledge, critically evaluate the text and reflect upon their responses.

Questioning is key to this understanding and the reading tutor acts as a facilitator and models how to articulate responses to texts. The reading tutors focus on taking the pupils deeper into the text, making increasing cognitive demands on the pupils from simple recall, through inference to questions that ask for evaluation and response, following Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a model that is a hierarchy – a way to classify thinking into six cognitive levels of complexity

See Anderson, L.W et al. (2001) A Taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing. A revision of Blooms’s Taxonomy of educational objectives. Longman.

Here you can see some of the questions we may use in reading groups to promote discussion and encourage deeper analysis of the text. You can support your child in this process by discussing the books they are reading using some of the prompts. Reading Group Questions.pdf


How pupils are assessed

Year 8 and Year 9 pupils are assessed using the Suffolk Reading scale, once in November and then again in June. Year 7 pupils are assessed using the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) to support the English mastery programme. They were assessed in September and this will be repeated in June.


Reading groups and pupil progress data Reading groups and pupil progress.pdf


Research and further reading

Bolingbroke Academy is an evidence based school and there is a substantial body of research that supports the view that “Finding ways to engage pupils in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change”. (OECD, 2002)

This is a selection of some of the current research


Guthrie J.T. and Wigfield A. (2000) Engagement and Motivation in Reading.

Moore, D.W., Bean, T.W., Birdyshaw, D. and Rycik, J. (1999) Adolescent Literacy: A Position Statement, International Reading Association.

OECD (2002) Reading for Change, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. (2013) Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading. CLS Working Paper 2013/10. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies (Reading for pleasure increases achievement in maths).

Washbrook E. and Waldfogel J. (2010) Cognitive Gaps in Early Years, The Sutton Trust.

Reading for pleasure & Social Capital

Book Marketing Ltd/The Reading Partnership. (2000) Reading the Situation: Book Reading and Public Library Use, BML/The Reading Partnership.

Cremin, T. & Swann, J. (2012) Enriching reading for pleasure: The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shadowing scheme. The Open University.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (2009) Capturing the Impact of Libraries, BOP Consulting.

Hargreaves Macintyre M. (2005) Confidence all Round: The Impact on Emergent Adult Readers of Reading for Pleasure through libraries.

NUT. (2010) Reading for Pleasure.