Hathershaw College

Reading Programmes

Reading Programmes 

At The Hathershaw College we know and understand the benefits and values of engaging with a range of reading materials and focuses; whether that is reading for pleasure, academic purpose or simply general knowledge and information finding. We believe it is our responsibility to instil, foster and promote a love of reading in all our students by providing a range of reading opportunities. Reading is the way we find out about, not only the world around us, but ourselves and others as well. We want our students to be curious and question the actions, decisions and rationale of contemporary and historical figures; to understand the experiences, influences, bias, perspectives and contexts of individuals we might only have the opportunity to meet through the written word and reading. For students to be able to this they need to be able to interpret and comprehend the text correctly as well as enjoy them. The below list is not exhaustive but is just some of the ways we endeavour to create a reading culture at The Hathershaw College:

Reading Forms

From Year 7, pupils are placed in a form with students of the same or similar reading ability, where they will read with their form tutor an appropriately challenging text. This not only provides nearly an extra hour of reading time a week, but also an opportunity to really engage with a book that is not being read for a curriculum outcome and therefore promote the idea of simply reading for pleasure. Form time reading continues through Key Stage 3, with the aim that all students will have read an extra 9 books for pleasure by the time they reach Year 10.

Class Readers

To further enhance the idea of reading for pleasure, the English department also have timetabled lessons where students read the same text together, led by their English teacher, improving on their reading and inference skills and again providing an opportunity to immerse the students in a book simply for pleasure. The class reader texts are carefully chosen in order to expose the students to a broad range of genres, contexts and contents.

Get Caught Reading

Our aim is to foster a culture of reading; to create an environment where taking the opportunity to read at break and lunch is an embedded and recognised occurrence. It is to this end that students who are ‘caught reading’ on their break and lunch will receive E-praise points that they can put towards and use at the E-praise shop … perhaps on a book!

Drop Everything and Listen opportunities

Linked to activities related to World Book Day, staff also play a huge part in creating and promoting a reading culture at The Hathershaw College. This is a chance for students to listen to and engage in dialogue with their teachers about books that have had an impact on them and the reasons why. Staff choose a book that holds some personal significance to them to read an extract from to their class and then explain their reasons for choosing the book and extract, subsequently eliciting conversations from students about books that have impacted them and ultimately celebrating a reading culture.


The library is a natural hub for readers, but at The Hathershaw College our aim is to encourage all students to access the facility. This is enabled by staff promoting the benefits of the library along with providing opportunities in lessons for students to attend and use the facilities. Through our Heritage library management system, students can browse available books and even access texts held across the Trust. If there is a particular book that students want to read, our librarian can usually source it! Book lists of recommended reading material are published online and tweeted about while the librarian organises competitions, book reviews and reading activities for students to engage with throughout the year.

Fresh Start

Fresh Start is implemented through a prescriptive course by a trained adult. Students are in groups of 6-8 and they receive 5 hours of Intervention over the two week timetable. Phonics approaches have consistently been found to be effective in supporting readers master the basics of reading. Fresh Start provides an opportunity for those students who need it to receive further teaching in the fundamental basics of phonics to ensure progress is made and develop students' confidence.

Sparx Reader

In the English faculty, all students access Sparx Reader as part of their weekly homework. Sparx Reader is an online platform which allows students to easily choose and read books which are appropriate for their reading ability. Regular reading is essential for developing confidence in reading ability and comprehension, which will support students in all areas of the wider school curriculum. Developing a reading habit, and with is a love of reading, is the core aim of Sparx Reader.


Bedrock is an online platform that is designed to help all our students from Year 7 to Year 11 extend, learn and develop important and academic vocabulary. Every student at The Hathershaw College will be expected to work their way through the Bedrock curriculum and in doing so, will study hundreds of new words. Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between a student’s vocabulary size and their academic achievement. Students with a wider vocabulary make faster progress at school, in further education and beyond.

The embedding of these and other reading initiatives are used to provide success in the form of improved reading ages, improved communication skills and a clear and evident reading culture, which, will in turn, improve life chances for our students.