Reading at Heathfield

Why are we reading with our tutor?

Reading is the most reliable way we have of predicting how well a pupil will do at school. It’s a clear link- those who read more achieve more. A huge amount of reading takes place at home but we feel strongly that reading should also be a key part of what Heathfield offers.

Reading allows you to travel the world, explore new ideas and meet people who are centuries old. Books allow you to explore other view points and to empathize with others. Cultural literacy is just as important as the technical act of reading.

Reading is a foundational skill that helps or hinders you in all your subjects. You will need reading in all your subjects, all the time. This remains the case when you leave school- whatever job you choose to do.

Life is complicated, so are the words that we use and how we use them. Reading between the lines, understanding inferences and subtle suggestions is important is vital in understanding advertising, meetings, flirting, films and literature.

There is such a clear link between reading and doing well at school that we feel that schools have a moral duty to make sure all pupils have an entitlement to reading. By reading as a tutor group we can guarantee that all pupils have the time and space to read.

Reading for pleasure brings enjoyment to millions of people and we want our pupils to understand why.

Why have we chosen the books?

It would be easier and cheaper for Heathfield to just provide time for pupils to read. These time slots are often called something like D.E.A.R (drop everything and read). The benefit of this approach is that pupils can choose books that interest them. However, research shows that this means pupils don’t always access a range of material. Research also reveals that the books children choose themselves are often not challenging. Most importantly, the pupils who don’t always bring their book or who choose very simple material are exactly the pupils that we need to support and challenge most. We hope that pupils read widely at home AND during tutor time.

Why is it important that the tutor reads out loud?

Teachers are expert readers. By reading aloud they are modelling the technique of reading. Language is tens of thousands of years older than writing therefore for many learners it’s more effective to listen than to read. Equally, by giving all pupils access to an expert reader, they can access challenging texts that would otherwise be too complex.

Why these books?

Year 7

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

This was chosen primarily to excite pupils about reading. The first book in a trilogy, the Hunger games introduces us to a harsh world called Panem, where the districts are dominated by the capitol. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

It's brilliantly written and a real page turner. However, there are serious issues, not far below the surface. Katniss Everdeen is strong, female role model. She is fascinated by nature and contemptuous of consumerism. She’s a survivor but riddled with self-doubt and brutally honest of her failings. A realistic hero. This is a great introduction to the idea of dystopia and the realisation that our world may not be as different as we think.

Year 8

We are all made of molecules, Susin Nielsen

Although a comedy and a highly relatable story about growing up, this book has challenging themes.

The story is character driven. There’s Stuart. He sees things a bit differently to most people. His mum has died and he misses her all the more now he and Dad have moved in with Ashley and her mum. Meet Ashley. She's popular, cool and sees things very differently to her new family.

Ashley’s Dad has come out as being gay. Issues around identity, homophobia and moral dilemmas run through this book. The author doesn’t shy away from strong language or difficult themes. Pupils will be guided by their tutor to reflect on these issues.


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