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Creating a Reading School

posted 25 Mar 2016, 03:16 by Craig Nicholson   [ updated 25 Mar 2016, 07:34 ]

Immersing children into a world of books, opens up a whole new world, new opportunities and access to new paths. At North Ormesby Primary Academy, we strive to ensure that every child develops a love of reading. As part of our 'Year of Communication', as discussed in a previous blog, we are finding new ways in which to engage children in all aspects of communication; reading being one of them. We are constantly promoting and creating ‘a reading school’ culture, across all year groups. As a result, children are linking their learning and positively reinforcing their understanding across the curriculum. 

We have worked in partnership with 'Beanstalk' for several years now. Reading volunteers work with selected children across school to develop their reading ability. Children are selected for a variety of reasons, with the main focus being to instil a love of reading and a reading habit. One of our 'Beanstalk' volunteers recently began a lunchtime drama club. It has been received brilliantly by those attending. It is amazing to witness some of our less confident children using their lunchtimes to enhance their communication skills and is something that they have all begun to look forward to each week.

In December 2015, the children in Key Stage Two completed a survey through the National Literacy Trust. They answered focused questions around a love of reading and reading habits. Some of the results demonstrated the need for a continued focus around reading for pleasure and encouraging children to read in their own time. This would need to be a whole school promotion in order to improve reading attitudes across school, despite the survey only having been completed by KS2 pupils.

As a result of the survey, we have tried a different approach this year and embarked upon a sponsored read. To display the importance of reading across school, it ran from Nursery to Year Six. Each child was invited to participate by creating a log of their minutes read each day, across a week and the initiative was supported by 'Usborne' and one of their representatives. The sponsored read proved extremely successful and popular among parents; therefore meeting our goal of engaging young readers and parents alike. As a result, more reading books have been purchased for a variety of reasons, across school, and through promoting the sponsored read in assemblies, the children are extremely excited to read new texts purchased!

In the Early Years, we have used money to purchase additional books linked to developing children’s phonemic awareness, which will encourage independent reading. This will hopefully enable teachers to build upon what Ofsted have already recognised as working well in our school:

‘Pupils make exceptional progress in learning their letters and sounds in early years and Year 1 so that they are excellent young readers. This outstanding progress in reading continues throughout the academy. Pupils develop a love of reading, an excellent knowledge of authors and acquire the skills they need in order to read with increasing fluency and understanding' (OFSTED May 2015)

In addition to this, books were purchased to ignite children's' interest in the world around them. A series of picture books, to be read by the class teacher, were purchased to provide a wider range of stories and literature to share with the children to foster a love of reading at a very young age. Bedtime reading sets were purchased for children to become familiar with traditional stories, which can be a real deficit when children join our Foundation Stage, in Nursery.

In Key Stage One, four sets of new guided reading books were purchased in order to provide a breadth of reading content for the children. A set of five books were bought to support children’s interest in animals and promote a love of non-fiction reading. Three books from the 'Oliver Moon' and 'Silverlake Fairy School' series were purchased to promote the reading of short chapter books for younger children. An early reader set and young reader set were purchased to support the ongoing teaching of phonics and the need to read independently.

Across Key Stage Two, money was used to duplicate the same title of a text, creating our own reciprocal reading resources to be used to support the teaching of reading. This has provided several sets of short novels, with chapters, to improve the reading rate of children across the key stage. It is essential that reading rate is a focus of our teaching due to the results of the YARC assessments undertaken at the beginning of the Spring term (Please refer to Lyndsey Frost’s blog for additional information). Two of Usborne’s guided reading sets were also purchased to provide a wider breadth of reading - 'Anne Frank' and 'Oliver Twist'. A Shakespeare, Dickens and Greek myths collections were also purchased to support a wider breadth of reading.

We are very fortunate to have a 'reading room' in school; a room devoted to developing a love of reading. It is used for many different purposes such as: reading intervention work, daily phonics lessons, a quiet, free reading space and it is also utilised by our reading volunteers. Staff have worked tirelessly to create an environment in which a love of reading is promoted highly, another feature of our school recognised by Ofsted during their visit:

‘Reading is taught in every year group every day. In addition, a large number of books are provided for pupils, including electronic books. Pupils are immersed in a culture where regular reading is expected and promoted. They make rapid progress as a result.’ (OFSTED May 2015)

In January 2016, we were approached by ‘Save the Children’ regarding our approach to the promotion of reading. This was in conjunction with a study conducted by ‘Save the Children’, analysing the gap between low communication in literacy and maths, and the effect it has upon children at the end of Key Stage Two. As a result, it led to a segment being filmed for the BBC national news. 

We will continue with our journey to instil a true love of reading in every child. Depending upon circumstance and the children, our ‘hooks’ will develop and change over time. Our journey will be an evolving one; one without end. What will always remain, is the need for all children to read competently in order to reach their true, individual potential. 

Stacey Todd (English/KS2 leader) - 25th March 2016