Jolliffe, W., Waugh, D., Beverton, S. & Stead, J. (2014) Supporting Readers in Secondary School. London: SAGE

Number of pages: 115

Cost: £22.99

This book is primarily aimed at secondary PGCE and undergraduate students in Initial Teacher Education (ITE). It provides support and advice to the reader through a series of chapters relating to the teaching of reading in secondary schools. Each chapter is well-structured; presenting the reader with a set of learning outcomes at the outset, linked to the Teachers’ Standards (2012), evaluating whether these have been met at the end of each section, thereby modelling pedagogy associated with good practice. Firstly, key theories and principles of teaching reading are identified which are then exemplified with reference to research, practical case studies and recommended further reading.

The first chapter outlines the current political priority in relation to teaching early reading relating to current government policies emphasising the role of comprehension and decoding using systematic phonics to support the teaching of reading. It outlines how current policies have been influenced by the findings in the Rose Review (2006), whilst comparing various models for teaching reading, including the Simple View of Reading (Rose, 2006) and the Reading Acquisition Framework (Wren, 2001). The chapter provides practical, class-based examples of some of the theoretical models of reading to support the readers’ understanding of how these might be used to teach early and improving reading skills to children of all ages.

The following chapter outlines the subject knowledge required by students to teach the alphabetic code and the subject specific vocabulary associated with teaching phonics. Subsequent chapters identify some of the potential challenges and criticisms of using phonics to support pupils who may have general, or specific, reading difficulties, particularly those who are at secondary level. Practical advice is provided relating to the pedagogy of supporting older readers, some of whom may be reluctant to participate in interventions.

There is a clear synthesis of theory and practice across each of the chapters and the reader is encouraged to critically analyse each of these in relation to the teaching of reading and the impact this will have on their own practice. There are clear references to to government policy, including the National Curriculum (2014) and links to research within the field of early reading, for example, those mentioned in the Rose Report (2006). Consequently there does seem to be an emphasis on the systematic phonics approach and how this can be implemented through interventions at secondary level.

For secondary trainee teachers, it highlights the importance of reading within their own specialist areas and in particular to consider how their teaching potentially impacts on children who have difficulties with reading. This book should develop a greater awareness of the need to adapt planning and teaching to support those children who have reading difficulties within mainstream classrooms. It will support trainee secondary teachers to achieve government Teacher Standard 3 relating to subject knowledge, whereby they have to demonstrate an understanding of systematic phonics and incorporate it into their teaching where appropriate.

This book will be valuable to all secondary ITE students and also current practitioners encouraging them to reflect on the impact of reading within their own subject, considering how to support children to overcome barriers to reading and therefore ultimately impact on their overall achievement and progress. It is accessibly written although the reader would be advised to read the chapters in the intended order and complete the activities to enhance subject knowledge and reflect on their own understanding.

Angela Sawyer, Senior Lecturer Primary English ITE