English & Literacy

Dramatically raising literacy standards and reading ages

Premier League Reading Stars and Sound Training for Reading


After analysing Year 7 reading ages at Nene Park Academy, the department was concerned that, alongside those identified as in receipt of the Year 7 Catch-up Premium, a significant number of Pupil Premium students had also made inadequate progress.

Similarly, it became evident to the department that, in the wake of changes to GCSE English and English Literature, the reading material in exam papers has become more demanding for all students – especially Pupil Premium students.

In both instances, we were determined to tackle the underlying issues, and raise the literacy standards – and confidence in their own abilities – of Pupil Premium students.

The Pupil Premium solution

Using Pupil Premium funding, we set up a Premier League Reading Stars group linked to the National Literacy Trust. Delivered as a breakfast club, we provide students with hot chocolate, juice, toast, pastries and fruit – not only to keep energy levels high, but to introduce a sense of occasion and enjoyment – with reading tasks linked to football, a sport that many Pupil Premium students find easy to identify with.

We’ve also targeted Year 8, 9 and 10 Pupil Premium students for the Sound Training for Reading programme. Delivered by four members of the English team, the programme provides students with the tools, experience and confidence to decode language and meanings of texts.


The Premier League Reading Stars has proved a real success, with students not only reading because they have to, but because they enjoy it, and have the confidence to read further. We’ve also been able to obtain tickets to Peterborough football matches, and visits to a Premier League ground as extra rewards for the group’s hard work.

It’s certainly difficult to underestimate the success of the Sound Training for Reading programme: in just six one-hour sessions, students have raised their reading ages by up to 18 months.

‘X is up super early on a Thursday to attend an intervention that he is really enjoying.  He says that this year he is loving learning.  What an accolade to the English department and I wanted you to know’. Parent of Year 9 student

How do we know our Yr 7 catch-up strategies are working?

As a cohort, all Year 7s take ‘Progress in English’ tests at the start and end of Year 7.  Of the students identified as below Level 3 at KS2, 86% made expected or better progress in Year 7.  As a Year 7 cohort, 94% of students made expected or better progress.

Building on the Pupil Premium success in 2016-2017

We intend to keep running the two reading groups into next year, building on their unequivocal success, and giving more Pupil Premium students, and those benefiting from the Year 7 Catch-up Premium, every opportunity to gain the reading skills they need to thrive academically, and outside of school. To this end, we have trained three more members of staff so that we can broaden the scope of the Sound Training Reading programme.