Reading at St Bernard’s

At St Bernard’s we believe that when a child has books, he or she is never lonely. Instead, they have the power to transform their world so they can meet new characters, learn about new places, witness new conversations, and really push the limits of their imaginations.

Reading is not a natural process, yet it is critical to a child’s overall well-being and their ability to access a literacy-rich curriculum. Reading is also not easy. The 2023 KS2 SAT results found that only 73% of 10 to 11-year olds met the expected standard in reading (DfE). Reading is a multi-tasking art of decoding words, sounds, meanings and contexts. To read well, children need a strong knowledge of vocabulary, an understanding of grammar as well as the ability to comprehend words and apply them to their own experiences and understanding of the world. Without these developed reading skills, a secondary school curriculum can place great pressure on our student’s mental bandwidth with any ‘reading failures’ quickly diminishing their engagement and success in school life.

Here at St Bernard’s we place a great emphasis on creating opportunities for our children to develop both their fluency in, and a love of, reading. It has been documented that ‘reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ education or socio-economic background.’ (Sullivan and Brown, 2013). In addition, our written language is a code; we believe that teaching/revisiting the skills of decoding through our Phonics programme with our weakest children will not only add half a year positive impact to their progress (EEF) but will give them confidence to grapple with challenging curriculum texts.

We firmly believe that reading is a way to escape from busy brains and digital worlds and free the mind to have some space and solitude, something which is so valuable within children’s lives today.