PiXL Reading: Inspiring long-term readers in Secondary

PiXL Reading: Inspiring long-term readers in Secondary | OUP Blog

By Shorny Malcolmson, PiXL Reading Lead

At PiXL, one of the missions we’re supporting schools with long-term is reading. We know that this is vital for students, both academically as well as for life beyond the school gates. But we also know that around a quarter of students start secondary school unable to read to the expected standard and that 1 in 6 adults in England has ‘very poor’ literacy skills.

Whole-school approach to reading

On 29th June 2021, we therefore launched the first phase of PiXL Reading: Creating Your Whole-school Approach, which focused on supporting leaders with the creation of a whole-school approach to reading including the wider community – such as parents and carers. PiXL Reading is the overarching project, which as we move forward will have numerous packages sat within, each reflecting one of the range of areas that need focus in order for students to become strong, fluent readers who have learned to read, and who are equipped to read to learn, to read for purpose and to read for pleasure.

Working with Oxford University Press

We are delighted to have worked with Oxford University Press (OUP) on a few of the key areas that have had significant impact for our schools. The Reading Canon Selection Guides were inspired by Doug Lemov’s book Reading Reconsidered, in which he advocates for the implementation of a school canon: a body of books that all students read during their time at school to enable them to explore high-quality texts about a range of important issues. To create these, we worked with publishers such as OUP to provide guides for each year group at Key Stage 3, as well as guides for Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. All texts featured are offered with significant discounts to support schools financially – all OUP’s Super-Readable Rollercoasters, for example, are offered at 50% discount to PiXL members.

Featured on the selection guides are classic texts taught on GCSE English Literature specifications so that schools can purchase these in an affordable way, as well as texts such as the OUP Super Readable Rollercoasters, which have been very popular in our schools. Glynn Palmer-Bell from Castle View Enterprise Academy has used Patrice Lawrence’s book Rat this year and he has shared the following:

“Super Readable Rollercoaster books have been an invaluable addition to our curriculum offer as students have been able to become engrossed with a whole text that have interesting characters, addictive storylines and captivating themes. The books are short and they offer appealing plot lines and remarkable narrative devices that extracts from longer novels cannot. As a secondary English teacher, I have no reservations in recommending any of these books as a class reader, a book to read as part of an intervention programme or to include in an English curriculum as they are all engaging, compelling reads that are fully resourced.”

In addition, half termly newsletters for parents and students provide a regular touch-point for tips to support students at home, as well as a wide variety of recommended reads so that new books are frequently shown to students. These cover a range of reading ages as well as interests – and OUP Super Readable Rollercoaster books such as Edgar and Adolf, Dark Peak and Lightning Strike have been featured on these too.

As well as this initial package, we also have a PiXL Reading Fluency package which has a wide range of CPD and teaching material to support leaders and teachers with facilitating students’ fluency development. Research suggests that for 75-90% of students who have comprehension difficulties, reading fluency is the obstacle and so this package is designed to help schools tackle this problem for their young people. And during the 2022-2023 academic year, we are adding further packages as well.

We hope that by working together in a cohesive manner, we can significantly reduce the number of students who leave school unable to read for purpose or for pleasure.   

If you have any questions about PiXL Reading, please contact [email protected] or if you are interested in finding out how PiXL could support your school, please email [email protected].

Follow us on Twitter for future updates: @shorny_m, @ThePiXLNetwork

Shorny Malcolmson, Head of Curriculum for Secondary and Post-16, PiXL Reading Lead

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