Aim: To transform attitudes to reading and encourage teachers to promote and celebrate reading within and beyond the classroom. To raise the profile of reading for enjoyment rather than to pass a test, to deepen thinking and enhance pupil confidence by broadening frames of reference.
Background: Almost half of the pupils enter the academy as weak readers and a number have significant learning difficulties. Many pupils come from low income families where parents do not have higher education qualifications.
Year 7 pupils were each given a free book, taken to the local library to enroll and explore, and then participated in the Summer Reading Scheme. Reading opportunities were embedded in lessons and introduced to homework tasks. Whole school and year group reading events also took place, including the Renaissance Accelerated Reading Recovery Programme. Termly Reading Weeks, linked to a literary genre or theme, were introduced.
Having established a will to read, the aim was to instill the rigour and resilience necessary for reading more challenging texts. In response to changes to the national curriculum and GCSEs, Key Stage 3 schemes of work were rewritten to provide further stretch and greater exposure to a wide range of texts. The second strategy was in separating English lessons from reading lessons. All pupils received one to one discussions about their reading and how to improve further. Reading weeks developed to include performances by pupils, lunchtime readings, competitions, treasure trails and visits from published authors. The library was refurbished, library software updated and over 3000 books purchased.
Pupil roles were created including Literacy Leaders, Pupil Librarians, Quiz Masters and Trusted Readers. Pupils also designed the reading weeks. All aspects of reading were celebrated – regular slots in the school newsletter highlighted reading achievements, a notice board to showcase many “word millionaires,” inter-form competitions and end of year celebration lunches.
Evidence: Pupil voice, Library data.
Impact: Pupils are reading more than ever before – on average, the number of books borrowed from the library has increased by 1500 books per year. Across the school, in all subjects, pupils are invited to participate in a wide range of reading activities, some evolved by pupils themselves. All pupils have a reading book with them as part of their everyday equipment, and importantly seem to be happy to read for pleasure.
Reflections: The success of the project has to be linked to the whole-school commitment to making this initiative high profile and embedded into the culture of learning in the school. The creation of the role of Reading Manager was also central to success of this research. The Accelerated Reading Scheme is intended to support schools in developing the reading skills of pupils underachieving in reading. With the large number of pupils involved it was necessary to have an identified person to manage the huge amount of information, creating and collating useful reports for staff and pupils on a regular basis.
Contact: Clare O’Sullivan, Deputy Headteacher, firstname.lastname@example.org