The Reading Doctor

A bespoke Reading Intervention Programme, delivered to our struggling readers, by a Specialist Reading Teacher.


Reading is an essential skill for accessing all areas of the curriculum and vital for adult life.  Many pupils arrive at ALP Sittingbourne with reading skills that are significantly below age-related. This could be due to lack of engagement in their previous school/specific learning difficulties. Often our pupils have received years of direct phonics and reading teaching yet are still unable to access reading books/curriculum on arrival. We often inherit pupils who are at the very early stages of reading or have gaps in their basic skills and knowledge that is holding them back, inevitably leading to a very negative view towards reading. We have recognised that we need to offer these learners something different in order to engage them and enable them to progress.  Working together with The Reading Doctor we have seen our young people, who were previously very reluctant to approach reading, now making up to 18 months progress in reading age in just 6 months.

Reading and disadvantage

‘By the final year of compulsory schooling, the reading skills of English pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average two and a half years behind those from affluent homes.’

-The socio-economic gradient in teenagers’ literacy skills (Jerrim-2012)

Educational impacts on reading

‘Reading for pleasure is more important for pupils’ cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.’

-Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading (Sullivan and Brown-2013)

Health and wellbeing impact of reading

‘Literacy has been found to have a relationship with depression:36% of those with low literacy were found to have depressive symptoms,’

-UK Survey of Adult Skills (OECD-2013)


We aim for all our pupils, regardless of their difficulties/barriers to learning, to achieve a reading age of at least 12.0 years, to enable them to function successfully in society. We also expect many of our pupils to exceed this. We have a ‘no excuses’ attitude towards this goal. If a child at ALP Sittingbourne is not progressing in reading, we will always seek to find ways to engage and motivate.

Assessment is an imperative part of our reading instruction at ALP Sittingbourne, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Assessment affects decisions about planning, intervention, resourcing and tracking progress. Assessment inspires us to ask the hard questions: “Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?” “Are pupils learning what they are supposed to be learning?” “Is there a way to teach the Reading more effectively/differently, thereby promoting better learning?”

On entry all pupils are assessed using the PM Benchmark Kit. This is designed to explicitly assess students’ instructional and independent reading levels, using accurately levelled fiction and non-fiction texts. The Running Record gives an invaluable insight into existing skills, knowledge, strategies and comprehension. The PM Assessment tool also dovetails with book bands for guided/individual reading and is designed to provide reliable levelling information from emergent levels through to reading age 12. Through this in-depth assessment process, we can also identify any potential, specific learning difficulties/speech and language difficulties.  Our high interest specialist reading books are chosen to match the reading age of our students thus capturing their interest and encouraging a love of reading.

Alongside the PM Benchmark assessment, pupils undergo an in-depth assessment of their skills and knowledge in relation to ‘Letters and Sounds’ (phonics). Each pupil receiving intervention through The Reading Doctor has an individual record book to record their ongoing progress and to track progress.