Reading is a key focus at The Birkenhead Park School as it a core skill and essential for students to achieve their full potential.

Reading age assessment

When students join us in year 7 and during their first two years, we test students reading ability through a nationally recognised assessment methodology. The assessment is done online and we use NGRT (New Group Spelling Test) from GL Assessment to gain an accurate reading age for our students. 

What does the NGRT reading age assessment test do?

It tests the ability of students to understand what they have read and is specifically designed for students aged 6 -16 years.  The online test is in two parts and the test questions adapt during the test based on the student’s responses.  Results are instant and it also provides suggested support strategies for each individual student.

Why do we use NGRT?

NGRT is a robust way of benchmarking students compared to other students nationally. It compares over half a million students in the UK and is able to put them into different ‘stanines’. Stanines go from 1-9 as you can see below and you can see how your child’s reading age compares with other children across the country:


For example, if you child is in stanine 3, their reading age is below average.

Through knowing the reading age for each of our students, we are able to support each students with appropriate interventions or extra challenge so that they all continue to achieve academic excellence. It also allows us to ensure that any students that need additional support can have effective interventions put in place. This is especially important in helping students catch up after lockdown. 

How we develop reading skills

At Birkenhead Park School we are committed to all students achieving academic excellence. Our curriculum has been designed to ensure that reading and vocabulary is at the heart of what we do.

How is reading included in the curriculum?

Reading is a key part of lessons and different approaches are used:



     Description of reading approach    Potential benefits
   Teacher Whole-led
   whole class reading

The teacher reads with the appropriate degree of fluency, pace, expression, stress and intonation. Questions and explanations are interspersed during reading along with checking vocabulary and monitoring interest

Teacher models fluent expert reading.

Teacher can plan to explain vocabulary or ask questions and offer clarifications.

   Teacher can control the task.
  Whole class reading:
  students selected to       read individually in     round robin style
   The teacher selects individuals to read (at random or individuals selected to
   influence the impact of the approach).

Students practise their reading skill.

Teachers can assess students reading skill and fluency.

   Teacher can control the task and     
   pose questions
   Choral reading    With an appropriate passage from the text, the teacher and students read in unison.

Students practice their reading skills.

Students can develop an awareness of reading  with the appropriate pace and intonation.

    Less skilled readers develop
   confidence and fluency.
   Paired reading    Students are arranged into pairs and read to one another. This could be alternating
   paragraphs or page by page.

Students practice their reading skill.

Less skilled readers can develop confidence and fluency.

   Students can be given goals within
   their reading and there is a shared
   Repeated reading    Repeated reading is used with very young children and with mature students alike
   as a way to consolidate comprehension.

Students practice their reading skills

Some evidence that repeated reading can enhance comprehension if modelled first by a teacher.

   Less skilled students can develop
   confidence and fluency.
   Individual silent reading    Students read individually and independently.

Students practice their reading skill.

Less skilled students can develop
   confidence and fluency.


How do we develop vocabulary?

We plan specifically to target keywords within each subject area each week to ensure that students gain a wider vocabulary and become ‘word rich’ so that when speaking and writing  they can achieve academic excellence.

Our WOW words (Word Of the Week) are a mixture of words that are most likely to appear across the school curriculum, but are not typical in every day talk. This is essential to allowing students to ‘crack’ the academic code. 

Regular quizzes test spelling and how well students understand words.


How can parents/carers help?

There is no more crucial skill for success in any subject than reading and maintaining reading at home is very important especially during any isolation period.

As a parent carer you will have received a letter telling you your child’s reading age and the stanine that they are in. You will receive three of this during the school year so that you are kept informed of your child’s progress.  At home you can support your child by using some of the following strategies depending on what stanine they are in:

Stanine 1-3 
Tip 1: Making sure that they read. Lots of research has shown that children can catch up if they are encouraged to read at home.  Keep reading sessions short (10-15 minutes each day is enough) and don’t drag them out so that they become stressful.
Tip 2: Choose the right book. Take the time to choose a book together that your child will be interested in- after all there is no point reading something you are not interested in You could choose two books at different levels of difficulty.
Tip 3: Have a quiet room- TV’s and radios off. Create the right atmosphere.
Tip 4: Read together. Reading together is really helpful- take turns to read. Let your child read until they get stuck and then join in again. 
Tip 5: Don’t get stressed or try to rush your child when they make a mistake. It may be frustrating but think back to when you were learning to drive and how much support you needed. Praise is important and remember when your child gets stuck reinforce that mistakes are okay. Perhaps sound the word out together.

Stanine 4-6
Tip 1: Making sure that they read each evening. Not only will it help sustain their reading and continue to improve it will allow them to have a break from screen time.
Tip 2: Perhaps you could read the book before and discuss the characters, plot with them and the rest of the family.
Tip 3: Perhaps discuss what books they are interested in and choose a book together or set a challenge to read a more classic book. 

Stanine 7-9
Tip 1: Making sure that they read each evening. Not only will it help sustain reading and continue to improve, it will allow them to have a break from screen time.
Tip 2: Sign them up to our ‘BPS 16 classic novels before 16 challenge’. (click here to view)

If you have any questions about reading in general or would like some information on how to access books or are struggling with the cost of books, please contact Miss Dawes, Assistant Headteacher (in charge of Literacy), Miss Weekes, Assistant Headteacher (in charge of SEND), or Mrs Canham (Assistant SENCO), who will be happy to talk to you.