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Literacy & Reading


Why is reading in secondary school important for your child? 

At Whitefield School, we believe that reading is the bedrock of our students securing great grades and building great character. Reading unlocks our broad and ambitious curriculum for our students. Without the ability to read fluently and at length, accessing learning is much more challenging. That’s why we’ve made developing our students’ ability to read confidently and fluently one of our key Teaching and Learning priorities.

The evidence is clear that reading lies at the heart of students doing well at GCSE and beyond: 

Research shows that there is a strong link between reading ability and success at GCSEs and A Levels. For example, better readers perform better not only in subjects such as English, Geography, History and Sociology, but also Maths and Science. It also suggests a strong correlation between a student’s reading ability and their success in subjects including Art, Drama, Music, PE and Media. Regardless of what your child wants to do in later life, reading is of huge importance.

We also know that many of our students arrive at Whitefield School finding reading challenging. Only 73% of pupils left primary school having reached the expected level for reading in 2019. Many of our students also speak English as a second or even third language. This makes the work we do to improve students’ reading ability even more important.

Reading for pleasure is important in determining how well a child does in the future and what career path they go down. For example, 16 year olds who read are more likely to secure professional or managerial jobs in the future.  It also improves children’s empathy, self-esteem, resilience and the ability to understand one’s identity.


Further reading:

If you’re interested in finding out more about the importance of reading in secondary school and how you can support your find, we recommend the following websites:


What can you do to support your child’s reading? 

Parents and carers often ask us what they can do to support their child’s reading. Here are some of our main suggestions:

Emphasise the importance of reading: The most important thing that you can do to support your child’s reading is to speak to them about why it’s important. Some students don’t enjoy reading in secondary school or find it increasingly difficult, and so are less likely to want to do it. It’s much easier for us to work together in giving all children the same message at school and at home: reading makes you do better at school and makes you a more well-rounded, happy person.

Support with home learning: Your child will be set home learning every day, from Year 7 through to Year 13. This will be set according to their home learning timetable. A lot of the work set will provide opportunities for them to develop their reading skills and master different reading strategies, such as summarising or comprehension. Your support in encouraging your child to complete their home learning to the best of their ability is key in developing their reading.

Having a reading book: It’s important that your child always has a book with them. This can be any book - fiction, non-fiction, anime, a textbook, and so on. What’s important is that they have access to reading material at any given time.

Encourage your child to read every day: Reading for just 15 minutes a day will, without a doubt, support your child in securing the best possible grades. Encourage your child to set some time aside to read every day after school.

Encourage your child to use libraries: At Whitefield School, we are extremely lucky to have a fantastic and well-stocked library with a full time librarian. This is a privilege that many schools can no longer afford. Encourage your child to use the school library or local libraries, such as Golders Green Library, Hendon Library, Finchley Church End Library or Colindale Library.  

Help your child choose a book:

Sometimes, children are reluctant to read because they simply don’t know how to choose a book that they’ll enjoy. Take the time to go through reading lists with them to help them find their next favourite book.

A KS3-4 reading list can be found here - there’s also a copy in their planner

This is an additional reading list resource:

Most subjects also have subject specific reading lists if your child has a particular area of interest, such as Science or History


How are we supporting your child’s reading? 

We’ve made reading one of our whole school Teaching and Learning priorities. We have put in place a range of strategies and initiatives in place to support your child’s reading. These include:

More opportunities for reading in lessons: All subjects contribute to developing students’ reading. From Maths, to Drama, to Geography, we’ve identified within our curriculum maps how your child’s reading will be nurtured and supported.

Teaching a range of reading strategies: Research suggests that there is 3 to 4 times more reading at secondary school compared to primary school. That’s why we focus on teaching students a range of different reading strategies, such as guided reading, summarising, and comprehension. This both supports struggling readers and allows our students to access more challenging texts. Reading strategies are also shown to improve writing and subject knowledge.

A fantastic library: At Whitefield School, our students are fortunate enough to have a well-stocked library and full-time librarian who regularly puts on exciting events and competitions. It also provides students with a quiet place to read and work after school and at break times. Years 7 to 9 also have fortnightly library lessons.

Regular opportunities for reading outside of lessons: For the 2023-24 academic year, we’ve allocated two form times per week to reading. In one form time, students can read a book of their choice - this can be anything from a novel, to manga, to a textbook or revision guide. In the other form time, students in Years 7 to 11 read from a booklet as a form, with the form tutor reading aloud. The ‘Reading for Pleasure’ booklet includes the first chapters from a wide range of books, including The Hate U Give, Noughts and Crosses, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This initiative is based on research showing that students benefit massively from hearing an expert reader read aloud. It also gives students the opportunity to read some of the most groundbreaking books of the last century.

Reading interventions for struggling readers: It goes without saying that reading is not easy for everyone. As reading demands increase in secondary school, it’s important we address this as soon as possible. We’ve put a range of  interventions in place to support students who find reading more challenging in coordination with the English, SEND and EAL Departments.  

Promoting a culture of reading: Finally, we want to foster a love of reading at a school wide level. For us, it doesn’t start and stop with World Book Day. All year round, teachers promote a culture of reading by regularly having conversations about their favourite books or displaying the latest book they’ve read and enjoyed.



Page Downloads Date  
KS3 Reading List 2023 24 16th Nov 2023 Download