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Literacy and Reading

The ability to read fluently, and to draw meaning from increasingly complex and nuanced texts, is at the foundation of student achievement at school and beyond.

The goal of NSWL’s reading policy is firstly that literacy never creates a barrier to the highest achievement for our students, and secondly that students’ facility with reading and appreciation of literature become a spur to study in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Students at NSWL read widely, and this wide reading is built into every subject. Students are exposed to ideas and material beyond what is strictly required for the topic at hand. Reading becomes a means of furthering their interest and knowledge across the curriculum.

NSWL promotes reading for pleasure as an end in itself and as an important developmental goal that contributes to students’ enjoyment and wellbeing.


  • It is imperative that all students can read at the expected standard for their age before they leave school.
  • To support students (with a particular focus on boys, SEN and disadvantaged pupils), staff must use their data strategically intervening with under-performing students in a timely and effective manner, whilst simultaneously stretching higher performing students.
  • Reading and vocabulary instruction must be at the heart of teacher practice.
  • The exposure, active planning and teaching of enriching academic texts must take place to effectively equip students for their GCSE examinations and later life.
  • Reading for pleasure is the responsibility of all staff. Greater informal book talk, students viewing staff as readers, being able to confidently recommend books and engage with parents and governors about reading practice is also crucial in sustaining an effective reading culture across the academy

Our Approach to Literacy and Reading


From the very first day in Reception,  pupils are exposed to a vocabulary rich environment, high-quality interactions and begin their phonics journey at NSWL through daily systematic synthetic phonics. The Little Wandle phonics scheme emphasises the importance of all pupils being readers and minimising barriers to learning through fluency in reading. The daily phonics sessions are structured to allow repeated practice as an effective way of developing fluency. The reversal principle of the phonics code underpins each session to ensure pupils understand and practice decoding to read and encoding to spell. As pupils progress through the stages of phonics, they have accurately matched reading books that are 100% decodable.

Pupils within EYFS build up their understanding of words through comprehension and prosody within dedicated reading sessions with adult support. Parents are informed through workshops and regular updates about the phonics progression and are regularly encouraged to read with their children at home.

Ongoing assessments of pupils’ phonics knowledge allows spotlight pupils to be identified for daily keep up sessions as part of the Little Wandle scheme. Prompt interventions allow gaps to narrow and pupils to gain proficiency in decoding and become fluent at each stage of phonics before progressing on. Rapid catch-up interventions are run to support pupils who have additional barriers to learning and progress is tracked to inform further support.

In the Primary phase, reading support is in place for all L20% readers through 1:1 daily reading intervention with a dedicated adult. Progress is tracked and pupils are provided with prompt intervention to meet age related expectations within reading.


Reading lessons:

Dedicated reading sessions are used in the Primary phase to promote reading for knowledge and allows pupils to understand and practise reading skills. Modelling of reading allows pupils to understand that reading comprehension requires knowledge of vocabulary, context, syntax and narrative structure, which are all underpinned by fluency in reading. Pupils develop reading skills progressively to allow the processes involved in comprehension to happen automatically. High quality texts are chosen to facilitate the English curriculum resulting in meaningful connections between reading and writing.


English lessons:

In the Primary phase, English lessons are guided by the scheme of learning, which progressively maps out the key transcriptional components, grammar and skills which enable pupils to become fluent and increasingly accurate writers. Focus on fluency in transcription begins in the foundation stages and pupils are regularly assessed to provide support, with an understanding that pupils’ working memory can be overloaded if transcription skills are not fluent. Pupils develop forms of writing through exposure to a variety of genres and styles. As they progress throughout the school, they develop a deeper understanding of purpose and audience and are prepared for the challenges and complexities of the texts that come up within each stage of the English curriculum. The writing journey at the school enables pupils to understand the stages of writing and the knowledge of what to write and how. Throughout the English lessons teaching strategies are used to provide live assessment for learning opportunities and frequent modelling as well as opportunities for pupils to practice.


Literacy enrichment:

Opportunities for enrichment within English at are emphasised throughout the school. Pupils have public speaking competitions to apply their oracy skills. Pupils engage in read-a-thon competitions to further develop a love for reading. The library areas are used by all stages of the school with dedicated library time. A variety of author and illustrator visits are organised each year to expose pupils to the diversity and richness of British literature, with modern technology allowing us to invite authors from around the world into our classrooms virtually.


Literacy lessons

Once a week, students in Year 7, 8 and 9 have a dedicated literacy lesson which take place in our purpose-built library and are supported using the Accelerated Reader programme. Reading, writing and oracy skills are developed in these lessons and students have time to share and discuss their reading.

Please click on the link below to access the Parent's Guide to Accelerated Reader:


Tutor Time Reading

The Tutor Time Reading Programme is led by form tutors who read each text aloud modelling fluent and expressive reading whilst highlighting difficult language to close the vocabulary gap and expose our students to high level words. This programme seeks to place reading at the heart of the curriculum and ethos of Nishkam School West London.

The Tutor Time Reading Programme runs two mornings per week and each tutor group read for at least 15 minutes. Every tutor group is allocated a set text and tutors will read this text aloud while students follow in their own book. Tutors model fluent and expressive reading focusing on pace, pause, intonation and expression. They will identify and highlight difficult language to close the vocabulary gap and expose our students to high level words (vocabulary not normally encountered in everyday speech). As they read, tutors will discuss and embed synonyms of these high-level words to ensure students understand and are exposed to new, challenging language. Once a tutor group has finished a text, they will be allocated a new one.

Some of the books that we read include:

‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Arthur Conan Doyle

‘Peter Pan’ by J. M. Barrie

‘Norse Mythology’ by Neil Gaiman

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Celia Owens

‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig

‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by Malorie Blackman

‘Rani and Sukh’ by Bali Rai

‘The Fastest Boy in the World’ by Elizabeth Laird

‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Adichie.


Reading Mentors

Some students who need extra reading support will be assigned a reading buddy to support them. This could be an older student or a member of staff.  These bespoke sessions will take place in the library on the mornings where the rest of the tutor group would be engaging in the Tutor Time Reading programme.



Lexia Power Up Literacy is also offered to Non-Secondary Ready students as a morning tutor time session every week. It is a type of software designed to assist in the rapid acquisition of reading and literacy skills in an engaging and consistent way.

The programs are designed to help students to become better, more confident readers. They are supported to develop their knowledge and reading skills relating to understanding of words, grammar and texts that they read. It helps them to secure the vocabulary and comprehension skills necessary for academic success.m/literacy-and-reading

Being an online computer program makes Lexia accessible and available for students to use independently and from home. It is also personalised and adapts to the progress of each student. We recommend spending at least 20 minutes a day on Lexia. The more time spent on the program, the more a student’s reading will improve.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The first time your child logs on, the session will begin with an activity to place them on a level appropriate to them.
  1. Then, they should work through the activities for 20-30 minutes per day, Monday to Friday.
  1. Your child will be given a weekly usage target in their account online and they should try to meet this each week. The more they do, the more their reading will improve.
  1. To reward your child for consistent hard work, they will earn ‘streaks’ and will receive rewards within their online account. We will also provide school rewards for regular use of the program at home.
  1. Your child’s English teacher will be able to see the work they complete online and how long they spend on the program. They will monitor how they are doing and will get in contact if they notice your child really struggling or if they are not doing 20-30 minutes per day.

Lexia PowerUp Student Login: