DEAR Sessions – Drop Everything and Read

Every day, after lunch, students return to their tutor groups to read collectively in a session led by their form tutor. Every student is provided with a copy of the text which they will read together following a set structure for each session. One session a week, students will complete activities related to their reading, which allow them to reflect on the text.

The texts the students will read are a combination of classics and modern fiction, and non-fiction. These are rotated every term.

Children who read, or are read to, for 5 minutes a day are exposed to around 400,000 words a year.  In our BDB DEAR sessions, we aim for students to read for at least 2 additional hours every week, which increases their word exposure to nearly 10,000,000 words a year.

Benefits of Reading

  • Research shows that reading helps to improve vocabulary, communication skills and also makes us better writers – skills we all use in the workplace
  • The increase in screen-time and social media has been shown to have decreased our focus and concentration levels as people are so used to flicking between apps and scrolling through various websites. Reading can help counter this by providing one thing to focus on.
  • Reading can help to reduce stress.
  • Research shows children who read for pleasure achieve better, regardless of whether their reading material of choice is a novel or magazine.

If you’d like support choosing a book for your child, do get in touch with the Resource Hub Manager or visit a website such as

Reading Ages

We report Reading Ages to parents and carers. At the start of the academic year, students at BDB sit the NGRT reading test which measures word recognition and comprehension. As the test is standardised, it is able to produce a Reading Age in years and months, which is on your child’s report

It is important to keep in mind that Reading Ages are a snapshot and they do not provide the full picture. Coupled with other information, such as KS2 data, tests taken on arrival at BDB, information from AP tests and ongoing teacher assessment, we can come to a more complete judgement on student progress. Reading Ages vary. The Reading Age on your child’s report is a reflection of how they performed on the test that day. On another day they may have scored differently. Reading Ages do not improve steadily like chronological ages. They may not change for months and then go up slowly or rapidly. If your child has a reading age above or below their chronological age, this reflects how well they performed against the average child of that age.

Where Reading Ages are useful, it is for measuring how much improvement a child has made across the academic year. Therefore it is recommended that Reading Ages are tested with at least a 9 month gap between tests.

Reading Ages at BDB

We use Reading Ages to identify students who may need extra support in class and during DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read). Some of the strategies we use include: intervention groups in all years, Period 6 in Year 11, Extra English and Maths classes offered to some KS4 students and KS3 students may be asked to attend additional phonics classes. Students reading significantly above their chronological age may be given higher levels texts to read in class.

Ways to encourage reading

  • Talk to your child about their reading at school and at home, and discuss what you read with them including magazines, blog posts, novels, online articles as well as novels, non-fiction and biographies.
  • Join the local library at You only need an email address and you must live in Surrey.
  • is a national campaign to encourage reading. Make sure the subtitles are turned on whenever your child is watching television.
  • Audiobooks can also help reluctant readers and are available online or through the local library
  • Don’t be discouraged if you child says they don’t enjoy reading at first. None of us like everything we read; it’s important for to be open about this. We can help them to find texts they’re interested in by talking about the passions, their hobbies and what they’re interested in doing in the future.
  • If you think your child is struggling with reading, please feel free to contact the SENDCO, Mrs McCrow at We are more than happy to help.
  • If you’re looking for book suggestions, you may like to explore for booklists, or visit a site like which produces books for reluctant, under-confident and dyslexic readers.