Aim: To raise the profile of reading for pleasure and to develop oracy outside the classroom.

Background: Pupils performed well in English but there was a desire to develop a passion for the subject beyond the classroom and beyond exam results.


Year 1:

  • Initial efforts focused on a smaller number of pupils so that lessons could be learnt before rolling out to the rest of the school.
  • All Year 7 and 8 pupils participated in the ‘Rooted in Reading’ Scheme.
  • All Year 8 pupils then participated in the Carnegie book shadowing scheme to enhance the ‘Rooted in Reading’ Scheme.
  • A link was established with a local feeder primary school. They visited the school to take part in a poetry writing workshop.

Year 2:

  • The mandate was widened to reach across the school.
  • A cross-curricular link was established with Art and History around the topic of conflict.
  • Pupils were entered for a series of external writing competitions.
  • Provision within lessons was adjusted to engage with the literary canon (particularly at KS3 where there was more flexibility) to encourage students to read more challenging texts.

Year 3:

  • As well as maintaining what had already been achieved, the focus this year was on oracy.
  • A reward scheme was introduced for KS4 pupils to mirror the successes that had been achieved in the ‘Rooted in Reading’ Scheme.
  • Increased opportunities were introduced for pupils to take part in debating.
  • ‘Model United Nations’ was introduced.
  • Enrichment opportunities included a residential trip to Dorset to experience Hardy country and a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ experience to London for Year 10 pupils.
  • Four author visits were arranged.

Evidence: Library data, competition results, involvement in extracurricular activities, pupil voice.

Impact: In the first year of the Carnegie scheme, Gordon’s School posted more book reviews than any other school and the scheme continued to be popular. In the third year spring library analysis, Years 7 and 8 had more library loans than the rest of the school put together. Also, 250 pupils entered the BBC 500 word short story competition with 9 pupils selected to move to the next stage (twice the number who had made it through in the previous year). Involvement in trips was very high. At the second MUN competition, the students won a ‘Distinguished Delegate’ award. As a result, pupils have planned their own MUN conference. Pupil voice surveys have revealed that 85% of pupils read for pleasure each week.

Reflections: Due to staff changes, the route across the three years has not always been clear. Much of the reading promotion had an impact at KS3. The reward scheme that we attempted to introduce to KS4 did not work, perhaps because the prize (a Kindle) was not attractive to KS4 pupils; we are still thinking about ways to involve Key Stage 4. We are also looking to adapt units to take into account that pupils’ favoured genre of books is action and adventure. 

Contact: Rea Mitchell,