Welcome to Whitecross

“To teach is to learn twice.”

— Joseph Joubert

At Whitecross we are committed to improving our practice continually in order to provide our students with the very best teaching. We are a research-driven school with a passion for excellence. Our staff are reflective and thoughtful practitioners with a shared vision – to be the best we possibly can be.

Reading Matters

Whitecross is a reading school. We encourage our students to read every day at school and at home. In order to help them to progress we follow the Accelerated Reader Programme throughout Key Stage Three: having determined their reading age, students select a book at the correct level and take a ‘quiz’ upon completion in order to check that they have understood what they’ve read. We aim for an average of twenty minutes’ of reading time daily (monitored by our English teachers) in order to maximise success and boost reading ages. Time is set aside during English lessons and tutor time for independent and shared reading, and we are lucky enough to have a fantastic librarian supporting our young readers. But why do we place so much importance on reading, and how do we know it’s making and difference?

Firstly, wellbeing. Studies by The Reading Agency show that non-readers are ‘28% more likely to report feelings of depression’ than their reading peers. For a society which quite rightly places so much importance on emotional wellbeing this is a very sobering statistic. Empathy, tolerance and critical thinking are all developed through reading. The Literacy Trust states that ‘The more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school, and be happy with their lives.’ Reading is also well known to reduce stress. But what about those young people who find reading difficult, and for whom the act of reading itself is a trigger for feelings of anxiety?

There are various schemes in place at Whitecross to help support those students who find reading challenging. As well as literacy intervention classes at Key Stages Three and Four we have a very popular Reading Buddies scheme, where older students support their younger peers through Reciprocal Reading sessions. Many of our staff and older students are passionate readers and are always on hand to help out with book choices. English teachers can supply reading lists. Success build success, and many students see their confidence grow as they begin to pass quizzes and see their reading age increase. we have various other incentives such as our inter-academy quiz league and our ‘Millionaire’ club which celebrates and rewards students who have read a million words. By far the biggest support is parental engagement with reading – hearing your child read and talking about reading will go a long way towards developing independent young readers.

Many people regard reading as a hobby; something to do annually on a beach or a plane, or whenever the new blockbuster is published. Many people avoid reading at all costs, especially in the digital era when our favourite TV show is just a click away on our smartphones. But reading is so much more than that. It’s the key to unlock new knowledge and new ways of seeing the world. It’s the way to learn new vocabulary which we can then use ourselves – emotional literacy, the ability to express our feeling and vocalise our worries – not to mention internalise spelling and grammar constructs to help us in our own writing. In the era of new politics, where the truth can be hard to pinpoint, it’s an essential life skill. The National Literacy Trust states that whilst only 2% of young people possess ‘the literacy skills they need to tell if a story is real or fake,’ a whopping 50% are ‘worried about not being able to spot fake news.’

Reading. A proven way to alleviate stress, build empathy, develop new knowledge and unlock vocabulary. Proven to boost success in GCSE Maths (The Reading Agency) and support understanding in GCSE Science (The Education Endowment Foundation). Proven to support children into eventually having ‘higher incomes, better housing and better jobs in adulthood’ (The Association for Psychological Science). Proven to be fundamentally so much more than just a hobby.

Reading matters.

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