Abbeywood Community School

Whole School Literacy

Young people who leave school without good literacy skills are held back at every stage of life. Their outcomes – from academic to health and wellbeing, finance and employment – are poorer on almost every measure. At Abbeywood Community School, we believe that improving literacy is fundamental. All teachers should be supported to understand how to teach students to read, write and communicate effectively in both their subjects and in engaging with the world around them. We believe students should be exposed to challenging texts that make them curious about their own and other cultures, and that we can support them in gaining both pleasure and understanding in these texts by teaching vocabulary explicitly. Reading helps students gain knowledge that leads to better writing, whilst writing can deepen students’ understanding of ideas. Our aim is to create confident readers and writers who can also participate in high quality talk that is well-structured and guided by teachers.

Our vision is to create a culture of reading within our school in order to enhance students’ cultural capital, vocabulary and enjoyment of reading as well as considering the importance of disciplinary literacy across the curriculum and providing vocabulary instruction in every subject.

Accelerated Reader

All students in Year 7 and Year 8 take part in the fantastic Accelerated Reader programme which many are familiar with from primary school. Students take a reading test – known as a ‘STAR’ test – three times a year, which gives them a personalised range of reading books they can borrow from the library. Students can also use the system to find books they might want to bring from home and check if they are the right level. Students can take quizzes on books, keep a digital library of books they have read and receive house points for quizzes that they pass. Accelerated Reader is an important part of our drive to make students more independent in their reading. We have a literacy lesson once a fortnight as part of our English curriculum where students can read independently, read 1:1 with their teacher, visit the library and learn about root words which are found across all subjects. 

Guided reading

The school has invested in class sets of fantastic novels for year 7, 8 and 9, who are taking part in whole class guided reading. The tutor reads the novel on the visualizer and students follow along with a ruler, creating a shared experience and a fantastically calm and purposeful start to the day. This happens in tutor time 2-3 times per week.

The ACS Library (or LRC)

Our wonderful Learning and Resource Centre is a real hub at the centre of our school, where students can borrow books, get book recommendations, complete research and use the computers to complete IHL. As well as this, the library is a base for many of our small group interventions and after school clubs. As well as reading for pleasure, students can use the LRS to access wider reader for each of their subjects. 


The New Group Reading Test (NGRT) is a standardised assessment to measure reading skills of students aged 5-16 years against the national average; we are currently using this test with Year 7 students and other specific cohorts. Through a variety of exercises, NGRT can assess students’ knowledge of phonics, comprehension, decoding ability, vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, deduction and inference skills, authorial intent, and ability to deal with figurative and idiomatic language (depending on the age of the student and test selected). Tasks include sentence completion, passage comprehension and phonic exercises. NGRT tests not just the ability of students to decode what they read, but also to comprehend and apply meaning. We have found these tests, which students undertake three times per year, have been invaluable at helping us to identify students who need further support with their reading. 

Ten Top Tips To Help Your Child Become a Reader for Life

As parents, you have an important role to play in helping your child to develop their reading. Research has shown children who read regularly are more likely to succeed. Here are our top ten tips to help your child read:

  1. Set aside 20 minutes to sit with your child with no distractions and listen to them read.
  2. Let your child choose the book, you will need to make sure it is not too difficult for them or they will struggle. Pick easier books to start with so your child can build their confidence and flow.
  3. Be positive. Boost their confidence with positive praise for even the smallest achievement.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Keep the reading flow going. If your child makes a mistake, give them time to self-correct. It is also sometimes better to tell them an unknown word to keep momentum and interest going than make them sound it out.
  6. Listen to your child read at least 3-5 times a week. Little and often will make a big difference.
  7. Talk about what they have just read. Ask your child to tell you about the characters, what has happened so far, what they think will happen and what their favourite part is.
  8. Encourage your child to read a wide range of materials: magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, comics as well as books.
  9. Ask your child to read aloud material which interests both of you, like a newspaper article about your favourite activity, a recipe you are trying to make or a review in the TV guide.
  10. Visit your local library to look for new books to read.

Year 7 Reading List

Year 8 & 9 Reading List

Year 10 & 11 Reading List

Helpful links