Rationale and Intent

Over the last two decades, there has been a deepening recognition of the fundamental importance of improving reading standards on a child’s future academic achievement, wellbeing and success in life. The reading and writing of Standard English, alongside proficient language development, is the key to unlocking the rest of the academic curriculum. Fluency of reading is also a key indicator for future success in further education, higher education and employment.

Being a highly engaged reader has the potential to allow a child to overcome their background, finding ways to engage students in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change. Here at High Tunstall we are committed to ensuring that our curriculum gives pupils the experiences, knowledge and skills needed in order to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. In this way, it can powerfully address social disadvantage. Our aim is to ensure that every student becomes a fluent reader who reads to learn and for pleasure.

Materials Used and Referenced

In developing our reading offer we have carefully considered a range of the best evidence to shape and refine our strategy. This includes:

  • Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools (EEF Guidance report)
  • The Reading Framework (DfE)
  • Effective Instruction for Adolescent Struggling Readers (Boardman et al)
  • Closing the Reading Gap by Alex Quigley

Materials used for implementation include:

  • For word reading: The Baseline Test, The WRAT test, Rapid Phonics Placement Assessment, The Miscue Analysis, Rasinski Fluency Rubric
  • For Comprehension: Inference Training (Leicester City Council) materials, Accelerated Reader, Passport


Reading aloud and discussing the text is a crucial strand of the RfP pedagogy identified in the TaRs research. It enables students to access rich and challenging texts, offers a model for silent independent reading, prompts the student’s affective engagement, develops vocabulary and creates a class repertoire of ‘texts in common’ to discuss. This research underpins our form time reading initiative where form tutors and other adults read aloud to students for pleasure.

Our tiers of support in year 7, move from whole class teaching through to small group tuition to one to one support, increasing intensity with need. We bring together students who have been identified as having similar reading needs.

Year 7 students upon entry to High Tunstall all sit a baseline reading test. Results of which inform tiered provision for each individual. This is triangulated with formative assessment in the classroom, assessment information received from primary schools and conversations with KS2 teachers.  In many cases, this is followed up with more detailed diagnostic assessments, including WRAT, Rapid Phonics Placement Test for example.

Tier 1 (Orwell)

Incorporates students with a baseline score of 90 or less. Any student within this bracket is subject to more diagnostic testing using the WRAT test, soon to be DART, to identify possible concession entitlements. Data from primary schools is also used to identify students with existing identified reading needs. Upon confirmation of concession, students follow our Orwell pathway, which begins with a further diagnostic Rapid Phonics Placement test to group students with similar reading needs into three phases of phonic development. Tier 1 students typically struggle with decoding and particularly using the alternate phonemes and graphemes within the complex code.

These students will receive small group tuition using the Rapid Phonics materials with the aim of supporting word reading and the inference training programme to support comprehension.

We will carry out termly diagnostic testing to measure the impact of the programme. Two HLTAs have been trained to deliver this programme and they continue to have access to a mentoring and coaching programme and materials delivered by a qualified Phonics trained Teacher of Communications.

Tier 2 (Rowling)

Incorporates students with a baseline score between 91-96. Any students within this bracket is subject to more diagnostic testing using Miscue Analysis to identify their specific reading barriers. Tier 2 students typically decode with a reasonable degree of fluency but find comprehension more challenging.

These students will receive fortnightly reading lessons in four differentiated groups using inference training materials, set texts and Reciprocal Reading to explicitly teach comprehension strategies.

We will carry out termly Miscue Analysis on students who were previously identified with a decoding or fluency need to measure the impact of the programme. Comprehension will be assessed as part of calendared English assessment.

Tier 3 (Zephaniah)

Incorporates students with a baseline score of 97-105. Any student within this bracket sit an Accelerated Reader STAR Assessment to place them on the Accelerated Programme. Tier 3 students typically are working around the expected reading standard, although for different reasons may not have developed into fully fluent and independent readers.

These students receive fortnightly reading lessons in class groups where they read texts within their proximal reading zone and take regular progress quizzes to measure the impact of the programme. Wide reading has benefits of exposing students to new and different content, vocabulary and text types, offering instructional opportunities for improved fluency and comprehension.

Tier 4 (Atwood)

Incorporates students with a baseline score of 106 or above. Any students within this bracket is deemed a fully fluent, independent reader and we use Reading for Pleasure pedagogy to support their reading development.

These students will be given a scaffolded but high level of reading autonomy during their fortnightly reading lesson. They will not access their reading as part of a traditional class structure, but rather in smaller highly social reading groups.

Their progress will be monitored by using passports that are regularly stamped to ensure each student is reading an appropriate breadth of genre and reading challenge. Each half term will have a dedicated genre which includes: Dystopia, Comedy, Classics, Diversity, Political and Unexpected. This will ensure that students’ reading diet is broad and balanced.

Parental Engagement

We know that parents are vital partners in children’s attainment and motivation for reading and can transform their attitudes to reading. We work with parents as partners and provide:

  • Termly recommended reading lists on our website
  • Termly drop in sessions offering reading advice for their children
  • Termly gifted reader forums
  • Half termly newsletters

Staff CPD

Staff have received training based around the EEF’s Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools Guidance Report recommendations. Including, Disciplinary Literacy and Vocabulary Instruction and future plans include Reciprocal Reading training and a Phonic approach to spelling. Literacy links in every department will continue to take the lead in embedding and refining these pedagogies.


September 2023

  • 8th – International Literacy Day
  • 12th – Roald Dahl Day

October 2023

  • Black History Month
  • 1st – 7th – Banned Books Week
  • 5th – National Poetry Day
  • 10th – World Mental Health Day

November 2023

  • Non-Fiction November
  • 11th – Remembrance Day
  • 12th – Diwali

December 2024

  • 25th – Christman Day

January 2024

  • 27th – Holocaust Memorial Day
  • 28th – 5th (Feb) – National Story Telling Week

February 2024

  • 5th – 11th – Children’s Mental Health Week
  • 6th – Safer Internet Day

March 2024

  • 4th – 9th – National Careers Week
  • 7th – World Book Day
  • 8th – National Women’s Day
  • 8th – 17th – British Science Week
  • 21st – 27th – Shakespeare Week

April 2024

  • 22nd – Earth Day

June 2024

  • Pride Month
  • 17th – 21st – Refugee Week

Dates TBC: Empathy Day, National Writing Day

National Storytelling Week 2022

Willow Scott-Armstrong – Lesson 1

Cold. Darkness. Wind. All bound together in 1 abominable recipe and swallowed by the unknowing night. I trudged over to the small window by the aged mantlepiece, which was resting peacefully under a thick blanket of untouched grey. Not a murmur was to be heard, not even a faint caw from the nigh cockerel. I threw a fistful of kindling into the grate and whips of red, amber and gold roared up from the dying embers almost instantly. I cracked my rigid limbs as I lowered myself into the dust gathering armchair by the flames. Rivers of cold flowed through the cracks in the walls and the underside of the dilapidated doors, swamping the area in shivers. The doors rattled uncertainly, unsure of which road to take. The lively siren of the church tower sounded quarter to the hour, striking the small lane like thunder. I sat, listening to the soft ticking of the clock’s hands between the ghostly sirens every hour.

I clicked my legs into position and shuffled to a transparent eye far away. Movement. I frowned an unsure grimace. I continued to the door on the other side of the room and coaxed myself to look outside. I reached for the ragged doorknob and tugged. Nothing. I wrenched at the stiffened lock with consistency. Still no sign of movement. I shuffled over to the window a few feet away. Hesitant on my stick of support which was thudding softly on the screaming planks of wood beneath my feet. Without warning the flaps of the great prison flung open, oceans of strong fear and cold flowing in knocking me off of my delicate feet and legs of china. I stumbled to the window catching my shaking breath clumsily in my chest, as forks of silver scraped across the plate of black above, washing trinkets of diamonds from view. Leaving nothing but the flow of starlight from the man in the moon to illuminate the forsaken yard.

Sophia Brooks – Lesson 2

The darkness was excruciating, it was a veil blinding us from the truth supposedly keeping us safe, keeping us sane, keeping us protected. But what more was there to protect us from; our world was already falling apart. You couldn’t tell whether it was night or day, I don’t even know if there is a night or day, it was all merged together in a blur, counting down the hours as they ticked by in this awful, awful city, surrounded by electric fences which trapped anyone or anything within it. But it wasn’t always like this. It used to be the most gorgeous city in the world. Oh what did I do to New York?

It was the year 1931 and the Empire State Building had finally been finished and anyone who was anyone would be there. The city was alive, its busy highways and shimmering streets, together pulsating like one giant heartbeat. If you blinked, you would miss it all.

I should be there, I said to myself. I had made up my mind: if they weren’t going to invite me, I’d just have to invite myself. I have the perfect idea. They all refer to themselves as the sparks of light so why don’t we create some real sparks?

I put my match in my pocket and headed to the basement of the Empire State Building. As I was going down the stairs something didn’t seem right but my mind was made up. I grabbed the match from my pocket and struck it on the floor. Fire!

I was frozen, numb to the spot, it was so mesmerising. The sparks were dancing and the fire was spreading, there was just something about the destruction that made me come alive. It was like a drug, once you’ve started, you can’t stop. It’s true what people say: lighting a match can bring light to the world or it can set it on fire.

This would be the start of mass destruction I couldn’t stop even if I tried. This was my drug and I was addicted.

Isabella Bunter – Lesson 3

My eyes slowly flutter open, my vision is impaired and everything is blurry. I feel faint and dizzy. I cannot remember anything at all, except from my name. It is like the ground beneath me is crumbling, rocking me from side to side. My sight regained, I see a mysterious light bulb dangling from the ceiling which flickers occasionally. Spiders crawl against my skin, as I come to the realisation that the only way I can get pout of here is through one door at the end of a corridor. As I turn around, the corridor fades to nothing and all that I can see is vacant space that continues on for what feels like eternity. As I turn, I see ancient, dried fragments of paint crumbling to the floor off the walls. I hear a noise, I look up and see the light bulb sway above my head. The door comes to my attention. It was a rusted, golden colour with chips of dark grey from where the paint has peeled off. My eyes locked with the doorknob, I could not look away, something was controlling me and it seemed to be an eye on the doorknob. I realise this now as it was closed but then it violently opened. Somehow it was forcing me to drag myself towards it, my feet heaved along and screeched against the chequered floor. My hand lifted, reaching and then grasping for the door. I tried to turn and run away but my body was uncontrollable, nothing was in my hands. My mouth was like a speaker spreading the sound of my horrified deep breaths, my heart beats as fast as a cheetah running. My fingers sharply held onto the eyes staring, attracting me and then the doorknob rotated. The door opened slightly and then, with no restraint, I got jerked inside. The door slammed shut. The sound echoed on for two minutes. I rapidly turned to see that familiar expressionless space, no door appeared. I span around, looking and searching for a door. I was trapped, locked in a room, all alone with my thoughts and feelings. A merry go round of haunted, demonic creatures circled around me, the space decreased and I was left with no room. I suddenly left everything, then felt nothing. I had exited but I was nowhere, I didn’t have any thoughts or feelings. It was just nothing, but it was over.

Emilie Walls – Lesson 4

The lights rapidly deceased, and were overtaken by blazing, red warning lights. All doors were locked, they say it’s to stop the creatures in incubation from getting out, which doesn’t make sense, they’re locked up anyway. I went to locate my supervisor; I checked storage, preparation, the laboratory, every hallway, I couldn’t even find my colleagues. I found a lab manual lying on the floor, so I retrieved it and flipped through the pages to the lockdown information. I noticed a few drops of blood on the page, it was thick, dark, it was recent. My heart rate increased as I read from the top of the page: ‘Once doors are shut, electricity shuts off, this means that the oxygen can no longer transfer to the incubation pods, so they are now unlocked to allow the creatures to breathe, please exit 1 minute after the warning or you will have no exit.’ It had only been 2 minutes after the warning, but the doors locked immediately. Must be a glitch in the system. I still don’t know why we are in lockdown mode, nor where my peers are, but I do know that I’m not the only one here. My pace quickens as I hear faint breathing; I turn around the corner to a graveyard, blood is splattered everywhere. I see my supervisor lying on the floor, no pulse. I see more bodies; I can’t make out who they were though. I turned the corner and see a figure creeping through two doors on opposite sides of hallways. One was labelled with the name of the creature. I see the incubator, well what’s left of it, in the middle of the room, glass shattered around it. I can feel a presence, non-human. I turn around, and suddenly, everything goes black.

Isobel Coull – Tutor Time

I was walking down the stone path; the strong smell of smoke filled the air. Suddenly, I saw a light at the top of the path. A house? I walked up to the door and knocked. No answer. Knocking again, I saw something. My heart began to thump. The silence of the cold, dark night surrounded me. I stepped but as I dd something slid under my foot, a key. I put the key in the door and turned it. Slowly, I opened the door and stepped in. The house was cold as ice although it looked untouched. Dust covered every surface of the house. I started looking around.

‘What has my walk turned into?’ I asked myself. I walked back to the front door and attempted to open it. It was locked. My palms started to get sweaty,

I stood in shock.  I heard a whisper coming from behind me. I ran into a small bathroom and sat against the door. Suddenly, scratches came from the other side. Tears swept down my cold, bare face. After a while, the scratches stopped and I got up and peeked out of the door to find nothing there. Once again, I tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. Suddenly, there was a loud crash coming from the kitchen. I looked around the corner and once again there was nothing there. I walked into the kitchen to find plates smashed on the floor. I walked into the kitchen to find plates smashed on the floor. I heard a whisper from outside and then… a hand was seen on the window, I fell back feeling almost sick. Everything started to fall off the walls and then there were whispers surrounding me. I begin to scream. Everything froze. I slowly opened my eyes to find… Nothing.

Hope Parker – Lesson 5

Levangacore is dangerous. More dangerous than the ever-active volcanoes of Kree. More dangerous than the carnivorous trees of Skrull that can devour you in in hundreds of different ways at once. And, yes, Levangacore has all of these things and more. It has hoards of blood sucking Griffins which screech when they’re hungry and anything you eat, no matter how appetising it looks, will most probably kill you. Being stranded on this planet is a death warrant.

But how did this planet get to be so dangerous? An ancient deity from Levangacore’s cores resurrected and avenged herself on the living.

It was time, she had awoken and was aware of the people above her, they were blissfully unaware of their impending doom. She crashed through the crust; her terrible purpose awakened. Her devoted ones awaited her ready to greet her back to her homeland. But it was no longer her homeland, her homeland had betrayed her. She cried out for the people of Levangecore and declared that they must pay for the crimes of their ancestors….and Levangecore burned.

This how Levangecore became the most terrible place in the Universe. And one more thing, the deadly but beautiful Goddess, capable of wondrous and horrific deeds…was me.

We love to celebrate World Book Day in fancy dress style at HTCS with every student taking part in some way, promoting the joy and life-long benefits of reading for pleasure with this year’s emphasis on the experiences and adventures reading can bring.

We began with a week-long competition to find 5 Golden Tickets with a series of clues given out during tutor time and the winners checking out the correct title and being awarded with a book vending machine token.

On the morning of World Book Day, our Pupil Librarians gave out books which they had previously wrapped as presents for our intervention students and early risers then we got ready for our green screen photos. Throughout the day, two, brilliant year 10 photography students took photos of staff and pupils with their favourite books and edited them to show the adventures you can have when you read. They turned out amazing – we have very talented students- and it was great fun!

At the beginning of each lesson, each teacher read an extract of a short story (The Man with the Yellow face) so that by lesson 5 the young people had listened to the whole story in a day and Anthony Horowitz had some new fans as had Michael Morpurgo after the students watched his webinar during period 2.

All through the day, there was a variety of book related games and competitions culminating in two chocolate-and-book parties hosted by Miss Smith for the Golden Ticket winners and the reading tier champions – delicious!

Altogether, the day was a fabulous celebration of books and the importance we place on reading here at High Tunstall. Keep reading everyone!

In April, the Hub held a Half Price Scholastic bookfair, selling both new titles and popular classics at amazing prices. The fair ran for a week, with timetabled slots for years 7 and 8 to browse the varied titles, with the other year groups free to peruse the displays during break, lunch or outside of college hours. It was a great success and created a real buzz around reading for pleasure. The students enthusiastically discussed the pros and cons of each book before deciding on their favourites and waiting eagerly for them to arrive. As a result, we have also bought several of the most sought after titles for the book vending machine and earned  £74 rewards to be spent on library books.