Tutorial Reading

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.

How can Parents support their children’s reading?


Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time - it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up.

Create a comfortable environment

Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently - or together.

Talk about books

This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.

Bring reading to life

You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend? Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an interesting article you’ve read.

Make reading active

Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos from your day and adding captions.

Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them

You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it.

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.

Year 9


The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, Mark Haddon

A modern classic. On one level, a murder mystery novel. On another, a sensitive and thought-provoking portrayal of social interaction from the perspective of a child with behavioural issues. Initially promoted as an exploration of Asperger’s syndrome, the author has rejected that narrative.

Christopher Boone is at the centre of the story. an outstanding mathematician, he loves lists and patterns and is fanatical about the truth. He knows far less about human beings and how they interact. When he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered, he embarks on a journey that turns this whole world upside down.

This book is funny in places, sad in others. Issues around family, society and growing up run through the story. Humanity is shown at its best and worst and tutors will support pupils to reflect on their values and how they treat others. The ultimate question this book raises is around the dangers of stereotypes and the need to work hard to understand other people’s idea, actions, and beliefs.


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