Reading

Library Books

Reading at St Mark’s      

Our Ambition for Reading:

We are passionate about developing a love of reading with our students and want them to see the world through others’ eyes and be able to empathise with them accordingly. We want our students to develop a love of literature and reading, being able to understand the power of the written word and its purpose in the world. Reading is celebrated at St Mark’s. Across all subjects, students have access to a diverse range of reading material, giving students the opportunity to explore different perspectives, cultures and time periods. Our ambition with reading is for students to become empathetic, critical and thoughtful communicators, both during their time at school and beyond.

Our intention is that:

  • All students read accurately and fluently to be able to access learning in life and school. 
  • By the end of Year 9, all students should be reading at their chronological age or higher in order to be able to fully access the Key Stage 4 curriculum in all subjects.
  • Students develop a love of reading and enjoy the wide range of texts available to them in life. 

Reading in the Curriculum at St Mark’s School

Literacy is embedded across all subjects at St St Mark’s through key words for each subject being made explicit at the start of new topics and revisited regularly.  Reading is a common feature in the school with whole school, cross curricular celebrations of events such as World Book Day.  All staff recognise that reading is a vital part of every subject and work together to promote reading.

We are aiming to build a reading culture at St Mark’s School through the following means:

One key way in which we promote reading for all students in our school is through our DEAR programme – Drop Everything and Read – in Tutor Time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Key Stage 3 students can choose a book to read, which is in their ‘zone of proximal development’ so that they are reading at an appropriate level of challenge. Those students who are in Year 7 to 9 who are reading at the age 16 or above are encouraged to select a range of books. Our library includes a ‘classics’ section, books linked to specific subjects as well as books linked to current social issues so that students can broaden their knowledge and understanding of the world. 

DEAR time at Key Stage 4 is used by tutors to enable students to recap and read their set texts for English Literature, other non-fiction revision materials for other subjects, or use the time to read a book for pleasure which supports their English Language qualification and supports student wellbeing in, what can be, a more stressful time in their school journey. 


Accelerated Reader is a formalised programme to foster fluency in, and enjoyment of, reading for pleasure.  It is used to ensure that students select books for DEAR time, which offer an appropriate challenge. The starting point is a self adapting reading assessment which is taken three times a year by Key Stage 3 students; the first assessment establishes a reading age and a range within which students are recommended to choose books; all the books in our library are linked to the system so students can clearly see which books are suggested for them.  As each book is finished, students take a quiz on the computer system and each quiz that is passed contributes to their overall word count.  Awards and prizes are given for achieving their point targets and those who achieve the ‘Star Reader’ or ‘Most Improved Reader’ in Celebration Assemblies through the year. The quizzes allow students to recall knowledge of the books they have read therefore building their ability to retain information and enhancing their progress. The regular tests measure progress in students’ reading ages.

Students in KS3 have one lesson a fortnight dedicated to Reading, which are held in the library wherever possible. These lessons are held by teachers who are all trained in the Accelerated Reading programme.  Students read silently to themselves for the lesson and their teacher will have 1:1 time to discuss their book choice, ensure they are completing quizzes, and possibly listen to them read aloud. 

We ask that parents support the Accelerated Reader programme by ensuring that their child/children are reading for 20 minutes a day, every day

Toe by Toe is an intervention programme that some students may need to access throughout their time in Key Stage 3. This is a phonics based programme that aims to build fluency and confidence in those students who find reading more of a challenge. It is beneficial for those students who are dyslexic or have dyslexic difficulties. As far as possible, students will receive this intervention for 15 minutes every day but if this is not possible it will be run a minimum of 3 times a week. 

This is not a programme offered to everyone, we use the Accelerated Reader data to identify the students that may need intervention and then work alongside our Learning Support Department to ensure that the right interventions are offered to the right students. 

Students who are among our most vulnerable readers will receive intervention through our Learning Support team; other students will follow either the ‘Toe by Toe’ phonics programme, or the ‘Stride Ahead’ programme which develops fluency and comprehension. The latter programmes are delivered by our librarian or one of our English teachers.


St Mark’s Reading Challenge is a list of 10 books that are set each academic year to encourage students to read a variety of books, including some outside of their comfort zone. These include ‘classics’, books by modern authors, and books that cover social topics that engage students in debate about the world around them. Students have all year to read these books and receive House Points for completing, and briefly reviewing, these books. 

We also set our new Year 7 Students a Summer Reading Challenge to encourage them to continue reading over their summer break and start with good reading habits for September. 

Reading for Pleasure at St Mark’s School

We have recently refurbished our school library. The space had input from the Head of English and the School Librarian who wanted a welcoming, light environment where the focus was on reading for pleasure. 

Students enjoy using the library at break and lunchtimes as well as in lessons and we hope to continue to develop the space in the future. 

  

As a school, we celebrate World Book Day.  

World Book Day sees events such as a whole school assembly; staff and students dressing up as their favourite characters; ‘Masked Reader’ competitions, book quizzes, and teachers sharing extracts from their favourite books in lesson time, among other activities. 

Following the refurbishment of our library, we aim to invite in more visiting authors, many of whom are local, to come and work with students. We have enjoyed a visit from Harry Baker, a local poet, in the past and he ran workshops with students on how to develop their own poetic masterpieces.

Annual Reading Challenges

Please click the following links for this academic years reading challenge.

Key Stage 3

Key Stage 4

Parents and Staff