Robert Clack is an 11-18 mixed comprehensive in Dagenham.
Not all students were reading regularly and there wasn’t a clear culture of reading in the school, nor a visible love and passion for reading. The department was using Accelerated Reader but was not exploring the data to find patterns and trends.
A range of ways to access reading beyond English lessons were introduced: A cross-curricular reading list was introduced including every subject and teachers were encouraged to set up a range of extracurricular reading groups and clubs. Displays and videos encouraged students to vary their reading choices.
The data was interrogated in more depth and a number of pupils were found to need additional support. This was delivered in a supportive and enjoyable way, with Year 9 students paired with Year 7s to support and guide their reading habits. Form tutors were offered more support to develop the reading habits of their form classes. Schemes of work were adapted and reading lists ran alongside these to promote students reading around topics in greater depth. A group of teacher ‘Literacy Reps’ met half-termly to support staff.
More solid links to authors were made and events were held to enrich students beyond the classroom. An English Excellence Day was created to celebrate the success of past students and also promote the aspects of English which would benefit students in the future. Working closely with an author and the National Literacy Trust, a transition project promoted reading from the very start of pupils’ school career and social media was used to communicate the school’s reading development.
Student and staff feedback (surveys and interviews), reading data, visible cultural change in school.
We have learnt so much from working on this project. It has led our thinking and motivated us over three years. We are incredibly pleased with the development of our reading culture and so pleased that we have been able to work with external stakeholders who have been able to appreciate this too. Working across a large split site school we have realised that we have limitations in delivering initiatives, as each thing we do often has to be replicated on each site. We have also recognized the power of our voice as a staff body to influence students and make a real difference to their choices and habits. Students are confidently found reading all over the school and we are pleased to have empowered them to do this.
We would recommend other schools to work on promoting a reading culture, it is quite an intangible topic but it can make a real impact. Our students now enjoy a range of initiatives to promote and support their reading habits. We have become far more strategic with our data and have been able to make targets based on reading data and student feedback. It has changed our culture and amended our outlook. We are now exploring teaching explicit reading skills with students to assess if this has an impact on their reading progress.
Isabel Eames, firstname.lastname@example.org