All year 7 and 8 students take a reading age test in September, which helps us to identify students who require additional literacy support. At St Mary’s we have three levels of literacy intervention.

Fresh Start

This is a phonics-based approach to reading designed for pupils who have a reading age of below 9 years 6 months. A functional reader is considered to have a reading age of above 9 years 6 months. Therefore, this programme is designed to catch pupils up who are below this threshold so they can access the curriculum independently. If they are identified as having a reading age that qualifies them for Fresh Start, pupils are then tested with the Fresh Start entry test, which determines the group they will be in and which module of the 33 week course they will start on. Pupils attend Fresh Start lessons with a member of the SEND team 3 times a week. Pupils’ progress is regularly assessed and when they have completed the programme they will advance onto IDL.


IDL literacy intervention is a computer-based multi-sensory system, which supports learners to increase their reading and spelling ages so that they can access the curriculum more easily. Although IDL stands for International Dyslexia Learning and was initially designed to support pupils who are dyslexic it is also highly effective as a school-wide literacy support programme. At St Mary’s IDL is offered to year 7 pupils who have a reading age of between 9 years 6 months and 11 years and to year 8 pupils who have a reading age of between 9 years 6 months and 12 years. IDL is also offered to all pupils who have a diagnosis of dyslexia, regardless of what year they are in. Pupils attend IDL sessions two mornings a week before school and it is based in one of the ICT classrooms. It is also recommended that pupils engage with IDL independently in addition to the school sessions. For more information, please see the IDL page.

Registration reading

This is offered to pupils in year 7 with a reading age of between 11 years and 11 years 6 months and year 8 pupils with a reading age of between 12 years and 12 years 6 months. Pupils who attend registration reading are supported by a Sixth Form reading mentor who they read to. This not only supports pupils to build positive relationships with each other but is also a highly effective way of developing reading skills and fostering a love of reading.

Extra-curricular groups

The staff in the SEND department organise a range of lunchtime clubs to support pupils with developing their emotional literacy and well-being, resilience, social skills, motor skills and handwriting. A timetable of sessions will be published each term and all pupils are welcome to attend these sessions.

Homework support

In the SEND department, we also have capacity to support students with accessing and completing their homework and independent study.