In order to prepare pupils for the complexity of the texts they will encounter in secondary school, not only in their English lessons but in all areas of the curriculum, Alex Quigley recommends the use of pre-complex texts. These are texts that contain simpler vocabulary and sentence structures than their KS3 or KS4 equivalents but with the same key issues and key knowledge. For example, Usbourne Illustrated Stories from Dickens introduces pupils to the classics of Charles Dickens in an accessible and age-appropriate way.
Using the signs of complexity from the ‘Arduous Eight’ (Closing the Reading Gap) allows teachers to mediate text difficulty, identify age-appropriate pre-complex texts and ensure progression across and within year groups. The more of the features below that can be found in a particular text, the more complex it is.
Closing the Reading Gap – Alex Quigley
See Alex Quigley’s blog for further information on the Arduous 8.
5 Strategies for Reading Complex Texts
In this blog, Alex Quigley outlines 5 strategies for reading complex texts. These include ‘activating prior knowledge’ and ‘teaching keystone vocabulary’. Linking texts to work in other areas of the curriculum achieves both of these aims. Quigley also explains how, “research shows that pupil interest in a topic can be an important motivator when it comes to persevering with reading very complex texts.” We found this to be the case in our schools. For example, a class had been on a school trip to Chester to learn about the Romans, and as part of this learned about gladiators. The following week, they practised their retrieval skills using a pre-complex text from non-fiction book about Romans. The enthusiasm and engagement with this text was much higher than in previous reading lessons and improved the accuracy of their answers to True and False questions.
Y6 Pre-Complex Texts
Click on the images below to download the documents
This is a worked example of a set of non fiction texts linked to the Y2 Geography curriculum.
This is a worked example of a set of non fiction texts linked to the Y3 Geography curriculum.
This is a worked example of a set of non fiction texts linked to the Y4 Geography curriculum.
This is a worked example of a set of non fiction texts linked to the Y5 Geography curriculum.
This is a worked example of a set of non fiction texts linked to the Y6 Geography curriculum.