Reading at SHSG

Reading at SHSG

Reading at SHSG

Our Reading Strategy

Cultivating Independent Reading for Pleasure

At Southend High School for Girls we are passionate about reading. Reading is a fundamental part of our students’ journeys at SHSG. We encourage them to read widely to expand their horizons. We want our students to be excellent readers, not just so that they can access our ambitious curriculum, but because we understand the importance of reading as a rewarding experience in its own right. Through our reading programme, students encounter a wide range of challenging literary and non-literary texts, and are encouraged to explore new genres and new writers. Our aim is for every student to immerse themselves in the enjoyment of reading independently and understand the far-reaching benefits of reading regularly and for pleasure.

Challenge Students to Read a Diverse Range of Books

At SHSG independent personal reading is given significant emphasis, with every lesson in Key Stage 3 (Years 7,8,9) beginning with a period of personal reading. Students choose texts from our well stocked library; just one of many appealing reading spaces throughout our spacious school grounds.


Classics and Ancient History Reading Programme

“Classical Studies is a mind opening empowering subject. It offers one of the keys that make western culture make sense and explains why we think the way we do. It gives access to some of the world’s big questions such as liberty, democracy, imperialism that can seem so distant to many young people. It makes them seem not only real, but also worth arguing about.” Mary Beard

Year 7 pupils have a dedicated reading lesson every fortnight. These dedicated reading lessons augment our Key Stage 3 Classical Civilisation curriculum. (see the Classical Civilisation Page in the ‘curriculum’ section of our website for further information)

In the spring term reading lessons pupils study the story of the War on Troy, drawn from the Iliad by Homer, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In the summer term they focus on the story of Odysseus, from The Odyssey by Homer. Studying the ancient world gives pupils a deep knowledge of civilizations which have had so much influence on the modern world and its culture, politics and history. Ancient languages give pupils the challenge of learning new skills as well as improving their vocabulary and grammar.


Reading skills are assessed at key points across the year in Year 7, and we use the Accelerated Reader programme to ensure that our students are reading texts that inspire, interest and challenge them. Students engage with the programme by participating in quizzes and activities which help hone their reading skills and track progress. Parents get involved and can help track this at home. This is celebrated through house points and membership of the ‘SHSG Millionaires’ Club’. At Key Stage 4 and 5 personal reading is encouraged through the reading of wider contextualising texts. Departmental reading lists can be found under the ‘curriculum’ section of the school website.

Providing Support from Reading Mentors

The Reading mentors group in year 10 is made up of enthusiastic middle school readers who meet with Assistant Headteacher Anna Leman (Teaching and Learning) and will organise and run book related events. These pupils also support Year 7 students with their reading, meeting once a week in the school library for a dedicated slot during registration time. This shared experience not only encourages our Year 7 readers to keep reading widely, but also extends firm links and helps build relationships across year groups. Students receive training for the role (including safeguarding training), gain House Points and are awarded a blazer badge for becoming a Reading Mentor.

Celebrate books through National Initiatives

We celebrate books through national activities, for example, in Year 7 all students visit Waterstones on World Book Day where they choose a book which is then paid for by the school.

Encourage Reading during the School Holidays

During the summer holidays, our new Year 7s, in preparation for the start of term, were encouraged to read one of the following titles linked to their tutor group: ‘Time Travelling With a Hamster’ by Ross Welford; ‘When The Sky Falls’ by Phil Earle; ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

As a NACE school, (National Association for Able Children in Education) we know that reading provides a wide range of opportunities to challenge more able learners. We refer to reading lists and resources from the experts at NACE as part of our approach, to ensure more able readers are effectively challenged and supported.

Engaging Parents and Families

For all children, it is important to foster a love of reading. We provide guidance for parents/carers to help their children when they are developing as readers. Just as dialogue about reading is good in the classroom, it can also be helpful at home. The link at the bottom of this page provides some discussion points for parents. Our reading lists are published on the website.

Reading tips and advice for families and schools | BookTrust

National Literacy Trust | UK Literacy Charity

Young people | Reading Agency

Whole School Production Chicago Ticket Sale information here