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Reading and Literacy


Reading Across the School

Defined by the National Literacy Trust as:

‘The ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world

‘Literacy’ is recognised as being crucial to the development and well-being of all pupils at The Blue Coat School. 

Central to this development is reading.  According to OFSTED:

 ‘Reading is the gateway to learning. It is the key to pupils’ future academic achievement and well-being.’

At The Blue Coat School, we believe that it is the responsibility of all members of the community to help and support our pupils in developing their reading and wider literacy skills.

Literacy-based school initiatives include:

Form Reading

Subscribe to The Book Trust Year 7 Reading Programme ‘Book Buzz’

Readathon (Autumn term)

Reading Challenge Competitions

Writing Competitions

Development of Disciplinary literacy strategies

Celebration of specific reading events throughout the year – World Book Day, National Poetry Day

Reading Calendar - Reading Themed Events

Below you will find a monthly calendar for across the school year, highlighting specific reading events taking place both within the school and on a national and international level.  These will be updated regularly so please come back and check the monthly events linked to reading both within the library and across the school.

May 2023 Calendar of Reading Events

June 2023 Calendar of Reading Events

July 2023 Calendar of Reading Events

Blue Coat Reading Challenges

In this section of the Reading and Literacy part of the school website, you will find a range of formal reading challenges (competitions for which prizes and certificates will be awarded), informal challenges, reading puzzles, and quizzes.  All the activities are aimed at helping to provide a focus for your reading and to inspire you to try something new.

Summer Holidays 2023


The following activities have been sent out to all pupils via Edulink on 17th July and the information that they collect will be used within form period in the new academic year:

Activity 1

Make a list of any books that you read over the summer.  A reading log has been attached for you to complete if you want to. (This appears on the next page).

Activity 2

As you are going through the holiday think about what and when you read throughout a normal day.  We all read quite regularly during a normal day but we often do not see it as ‘reading’.  For example: reading a news story on your phone; reading a text; reading Facebook or Twitter; reading a menu in a café/restaurant/at McDonald’s; or reading a holiday brochure in paper or online.

Make a list of anything and everything that you read, no matter how small!!  You can add them to your book reading list.

All of this information will be used in September in lessons.

Reading Newsletter

The Importance of Reading: Research

The following materials provide some food for thought regarding why reading is important, what the current situation is regarding both reading and writing and what we can all do to help. We hope you find them useful/interesting, and we will be adding to these materials as time goes on. If you have any questions or comments about anything that you have read please do not hesitate to contact us at the following email addresses: Christine Smith, Learning Resource Centre Manager

Literacy for Learning Evaluation Report

Secondary Literacy Research and Policy Guide 2022

What is literacy

Writing in 2023 Research from NLT

The Reading Framework 2023

Reading for Pleasure

Although many people do read for pleasure, for others reading is not a pleasure and some can even avoid it at all costs! This section will provide some materials from the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and the Open University Reading for Pleasure initiative to help us all (parents, pupils, and teaching staff) learn more about Reading for Pleasure. It is worth noting that reading is good for our health! Reading for just 6 minutes a day, particularly before bed, can help us to relax and destress. It is worth making it clear to children that reading is not just about learning in school but also about boosting our mental health.

Reading for Pleasure: What? Why and How?

Research State of Reading for Pleasure Stock in Schools 2021

Open Uni RfP at secondary level blog 

Exploring the Concept of Reading for pleasure

Childrens Reading Choices 2022

Reading Materials: Some Suggestions

Research into reading for pleasure places a great deal of emphasis on children being able to choose their own reading materials. This may not be the type of material that we, as adults, might like, but it is their choice and as long as it is appropriate for their age then it can be suggested that we should let them try it! However, if a child is unsure of what might be out there to read we can help them.

The Blue Coat School Reading and Literacy newsletter (issue one was sent out via parent email and a link to it can also be found in the section here called 'Reading Newsletter') has regular book recommendations for pupils by pupils. Yet when thinking about reading materials we need to think as broadly as possible: comics, magazines, physical newspapers (better than online as the reader can browse the whole publication rather than read just one item); online magazines and even computer games can all involve reading and e-books count as reading material. Talking to young people about what they are reading and what you are reading is also an important part of encouraging reading.

Given below you will find some reading lists providing suggestions on reading material that focuses on specific topics through fiction and some general suggestions for different age groups.

One of our year 7 pupils, an avid reader, regularly comes to give me a reading update on recommended reads, and here are a few of his suggestions:

  • 'Loki: Where Mischief Lies'
  • 'The Secret Detectives'
  • 'Moonfleet'
  • 'The Spooks'
  • 'The Life of Pi'

If you have any suggestions please let me know and I can share them with the whole reading community: - Christine Smith, Learning Resource Centre Manager

100 brilliant NonFiction books

Prisoners of Geography Map ofRussia


Read for Empathy Collection Book Collage - Secondary

Awesome books for video games fans.

Black History Month Take 10 titles

Black History Month YA booklist

Booklist Ages 8-12 Nov 2022

Reluctant Readers Booklist Nov 2022

Booklist Ages 13 Nov 2022

Caring for the planet booklist Jan 2022

Funny booklist Nov 2022


The Library

Reading and Literacy

At a time when some schools are getting rid of their school library The Blue Coat School is proud to be investing in theirs!! The school recognises the value and importance of a library not only for study purposes but also for relaxation and enjoyment.

To this end, The Blue Coat School Library (also known as the Learning Resource Centre) is to be refurbished with a dedicated fiction reading section - comfy seats, lots of new fiction titles, and regular reading activities as well as improved study facilities. This is likely to take place between October and December 2023, but the library will continue to be available during that time by moving to The Chapel. A member of staff will be on-hand at all times to support pupils in their learning and to provide some advice about reading.

A timetable of various after-school and lunchtime activities with a strong focus on literacy will be part of this new, enhanced learning and relaxation facility. This will be added to this section of the website in September.

If you or your child has any queries about the library or what support is available through the library to help with learning, homework, coursework, or reading for pleasure please do not hesitate to contact us on: - Christine Smith, Learning Resource Centre Manager

Reading: Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is reading really that important?

Answer: The short answer is 'YES'. Reading provides us with the skills to learn, relax and generally get the most out of life!! We need to be able to read to access job opportunities, welfare opportunities and for our mental well-being. We all read every day - things like the tv guide, text messages, Facebook pages, birthday cards, letters, recipes etc etc, we just don't think of it as 'reading'!

Here are some quotes about reading which might help to convince you:

'Book-reading is . . . a strong marker of curiosity - a quality prized<> by employers such as Google.'

'Studies show a range of psychological benefits from book-reading. Reading fiction can increase your capacity for empathy<>, through the process of seeing the world through a relatable character. Reading has been found to reduce stress as effectively as yoga<>. It is being prescribed for depression - a treatment known as bibliotherapy<>.'

'. . .benefits to reading for pleasure include: text comprehension and grammar, positive reading attitudes, pleasure in reading in later life, increased general knowledge.'
(Clark and Rumbold, 2006)

'The ability to read is a fundamental life skill.'
Amanda Spielman, Head of OFSTED

'Reading is the gateway to learning. It is the key to pupils' future academic achievement and well-being.'
Gill Jones, Deputy Director OFSTED, Schools and Early Education

Q2: 'My child does not like reading books and is put off by their length. Do they have to read books?'

Answer: No. There is lots of reading material available which has nothing to do with reading a book. One of my favourite reads even now is 'The Beano' comic! There is a wide range of children's comics, magazines and newspapers available which can be read in short chunks. Similarly there are lots of small, general interest books which your child might find interesting rather than fiction books; again these can be read in small chunks - I call them 'dip into' books, for example: 'The Little Book of Football', 'The Little Book of Joy', 'National Geographic: A Fact for Every Day of the Year', '300 Crazy Football Facts', joke books, 'Interesting Facts for Smart Kids'. There are also books of short stories where you can read a story without reading the whole book, for example in October Terry Pratchett is releasing a book of short stories called 'A Stroke of the Pen: Lost Stories'. Reading how to play a game on the web also counts as reading!! The simple answer is that ANYTHING which a child will read is worth it as they are encountering vocabulary and building up their reading confidence and can then move on to the books that they found challenging!

Q3: 'My child's first language is not English. Can they read books in their first language?'

Answer: Yes, no problem at all!! It is worth trying to encourage them to read some material in English though as this will be the language that they will take their exams in and the more exposure that they have to the English language the better, in terms of acquiring vocabulary which they can use in their own writing across their subjects in school. They could also share stories told in their first language with their friends and classmates by translating them into English, thereby supporting their own development of the English language whilst their friends can experience some of the beautiful stories from other countries.

Q4: What help is available if my child is struggling with their reading?

Answer: Lots!!! Reading can be broken into recognising the words and understanding what those words actually mean (comprehension) and there is support for the whole reading process. Sometimes readers struggle but do not really want to tell anyone for fear of looking silly. That is why all requests for help are confidential. Your child could speak to their form teacher about where to get help; their English teacher might also be able to provide practical help. The school librarian (me - Miss C Smith) can also help as can the academic mentors - Mr Cheng and Mrs McGain; we can be found in the library and can be emailed or your child can just pop down to see us and explain the help that they feel they may need; this help is not formally recorded but rather is provided to help the child gain confidence in their literacy skills. Throughout the year teaching staff can make formal referrals for academic support for any child who they feel is struggling with an aspect of their subject work or with reading. Throughout the year there will be literacy based activities in the library which aim to help all pupils and each evening there is support between 3.35 and 5pm for homework and studying. If you would like to request help for your child then please do email me and we can work something out. Christine Smith, Learning Resource Centre Manager

Over to you! Let us know what you think.

Please feel free to email us and let us know what you think of this section of the website, any ideas you may have for reading events, and any questions that you would like help with.