Creating a Culture of Reading: The Library, Reading & Academic Vocabulary

Learn to Read, Read to Learn

The Reading and Academic Vocabulary Team are available to answer enquires via our dedicated email inbox:

The @PGSALCLibrary Twitter feed is the best place to find our latest announcements. Follow us for the latest news and information!

Our Intentions
We truly believe reading is the key to learning. To complement reading we also focus on improving students’ capacity to know, understand and use academic vocabulary. The more extensive a reader’s vocabulary, the more equipped they will be to understand and learn new information.

Our curriculum framework is underpinned by both reading and academic vocabulary. The ambition at PGS is:


  • We develop a culture of reading at every opportunity within the school day

  • Reading is wide, varied and challenging at an age appropriate level

  • Students are expected to read fluently and in depth for pleasure and knowledge

  • Every opportunity is taken to develop the use of academic and subject-specific vocabulary 

  • We value the importance of oracy and students being able to to speak with fluency and confidence

We are an evidence-informed school, continuously researching the latest theories, strategies and techniques to help your child, both at home and in school.

According to the Department for Education, since 2017 students have faced ‘more demanding’ GCSE examinations, with an average reading age of almost 17 needed to access GCSE papers. This is problematic for the significant minority of students with a low reading age. A recent report (Read All About It) suggests that 20% of all 15-year-olds have a reading age of 11 or below. Considering this, encouraging a love of reading and building a strong academic vocabulary has never been more important to your child’s future success. By increasing their love of reading, writing and words, we equip them with the skills to make their dreams reality.

The benefits of reading are not only academic. Reading can also strengthen an individual’s mood, happiness, ability to empathise with others and be used as a tool to improve mental health. Reducing screen time before bed and replacing your phone with a book can help create a better routine and lead to an improved night’s sleep. It has also been shown to reduce stress levels by up to 68%. Therefore, reading is something that should be part of all our lives!

We believe the link between home and school is vital to encouraging students to read more.

Within school, we have an array of initiatives to encourage the use of academic vocabulary and reading:

  • Etymology

  • Morphology

  • Register and read

  • Accelerated Reader programme

  • Tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary use in lessons

  • English reading lessons

Additionally, we set individual reading and house competitions to incentivise positive reading habits. During their time with us, students will also be encouraged to read at home. We will help you support their reading journey by giving you reading suggestions and questions to ask them.


Meet the Reading & Academic Vocabulary Team


Mrs I Marrow

Co-Lead of Reading & Academic Vocabulary Across the Curriculum
(Role focus: mentor time, library management, enrichment, disciplinary literacy in the curriculum.)


Mrs L Wilson

Co-Lead of Reading & Academic Vocabulary Across the Curriculum

(Role focus: intervention, reading assessments, additional English/Maths KS3 Lessons, disciplinary literacy in the curriculum.)


Mrs H Barraclough

Reading & Learning Resource Development Manager

Hello! I’m Mrs Barraclough and I’m in charge of the Library here at Penistone Grammar School. I have to keep pinching myself because not only does this role combine my love of books, writing and literature, but it also allows me to share my passion with our school and wider community. I’ve always been involved with books and writing, from working in academic publishing and libraries, to running writing workshops for young people. I’ve had my own short stories and scripts published and I’ve performed at numerous spoken word events. When you join our school I look forward to welcoming you to the library and finding out exactly what the library can offer. From the latest book releases to creative writing classes, home learning guidance to academic research, Mrs McDermott and I will be here to help and assist you. The PGS library is a welcoming space for everyone to learn more about the world and themselves, and we can’t wait to open the doors and let you in! 


Mrs S McDermott

Reading & Learning Resource Development Manager

Hi! I’m Mrs McDermott and I work two days a week in the library alongside Mrs Barraclough, organising exciting events and opportunities for all our students. I used to teach French and Spanish but when my children were small, I started to develop my love of writing. Since then, I’ve published two children’s books and have just finished my latest one – Captain Tuna and the Nostrils of Doom! I have been passionate about reading ever since meeting Roald Dahl at Infant School and I love my love of books with everyone at PGS. The best thing about books for me, is their ability to transport you to other worlds. What could be more thrilling! I can usually be found with my nose in the latest middle grade or young adult novel and I’m always eager to find out what our students like to read. (I’m currently reading The Boy I Am – a young adult debut novel by K. L. Kettle and it’s brilliant!) As Stephen King once said, ‘Books are a uniquely portable magic’ and I love sprinkling some of that magic across PGS! 


The PGS Library Information


When you join Penistone Grammar School you instantly become a member of the Library - which means you can take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer straight away! The Library is a wonderful place to visit if you have a question that needs to be answered, a topic to be researched or even if you're just looking for a good book to read. When you visit the Library a great way to get started is to ask a librarian for help - your librarians at PGS are Mrs Barraclough and Mrs McDermott.

The Library isn't just a place to borrow books - although we do have an extensive selection from which you can choose! We also give help with home learning, run lots of different clubs and activities, host guest authors and speakers, and provide a safe, quiet space where you can read, sit or study.