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Creating a Love of Reading

Creating a love of reading – the greatest gift for all learners

Reading is a fundamental skill that is essential for all learning; no one would or could disagree with this as a statement. So why are the statistics so shocking in revealing that too many pupils are still not achieving the levels expected of them? Amanda Spielman, OFSTEDs Chief Inspector writes that this year’s SATs tests revealed that175,000 pupils did not meet the expected standard in reading, meaning that around a quarter of all year 7s still have a reading age of below 11.

Creating a love of reading - the greatest gift for all learners
Reading the greatest gift

A report on reading ability of prisoners highlights that the most recent data published by the Ministry of Justice shows that 57% of adult prisoners taking initial assessments had literacy levels below those expected of an 11-year-old. The figure for pupils who leave school without functional literacy seems quite difficult to quantify and varies widely from around 2% to 20% with the most reliable data suggesting around 15% to 17% leave school with poor reading skills and certainly with a very low reading age. (The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Skills for Life Survey 2011 gave a higher figure of 15%.  Sheffield University said 17%).

How can we change this?

If we put the curriculum at the top of the agenda then we must put reading as the number one priority with speaking and listening a very close second. Reading should be at the top of the intent list, high on the agenda for CPD and an absolute imperative when observing what constitutes high-quality pedagogy for learning in the classroom.

For each and everyone of us involved in education, whether in early years and the primary stages or in secondary schools, if just one pupil leaves school without being able to read fluently and well, then we have failed. There must be a relentless and collective drive that builds a culture that celebrates reading for pleasure, reading for information, reading for enquiry, reading to access deeper and richer knowledge or reading instructions.

Creating a Consistent, Knowledge Rich & Sequenced Primary Curriculum

Reading is not the exclusive domain of the English teacher. Reading is integral to every subject; how can pupils answer questions in maths if they can’t read? How can they make a cake or create a meal if they can’t follow a recipe? How can pupils learn a second language if they haven’t mastered reading in their own? Creating a school culture that demands that every teacher in whatever subject ensures pupils can read the words and make sense of the meaning will reap untold benefits for the pupil, the teacher and the school.

How can we create a love of reading?

Learning the building blocks of reading with phonics is, of course, important but it is pretty hollow when it comes to fostering a love of reading. The more opportunities there are for pupils, certainly younger ones to be exposed to a variety of reading materials where they can see the words, possibly alongside pictures, shapes or photographs will help them to see the prose in as many contexts as possible.

Reading is the key to a love of learning

Each subject has a miasma of vocabulary, exposing pupils to that vocabulary where there are many opportunities to see the words, speak the words and discuss what they mean builds a repertoire of sounds that will go along way to support the development of how to turn those sounds into words and into meaning.

Put speaking and listening high on the agenda when focusing on reading. Read to pupils, get them to read to their peers, ask them to discuss their thoughts, their ideas and their feelings about what they are reading.

How to plan a sequenced primary school literacy strategy a live webinar focusing on literacy and reading across the curriculum.

Find out what it is that ignites the passion in your learners, especially those who you know are struggling with their reading, are not exposed to reading at home or have switched off from learning generally. If its football, find reading material relating to their team or rival teams. If it is gaming, see if the library will stock some magazines and work together to read some of the articles. Putting suspense into reading can often ignite a passion to find out more, there are plenty of clever books for children and teenagers that can create a need to find out what happens next, such works can hook the teachers as well!

How can we make sure developing the skill of reading is seamless?

Letters turn to sounds, sounds turn to meaning, meaning turns to learning

Reading like any complex skill takes time to build real expertise. The sequencing of the development of the skills needed for reading is carefully set out in the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for English at Key Stage1, 2 and 3. Learning the mechanics of reading is one thing, learning to be unconsciously competent in the skill of reading requires much, much more than the procedural.

It involves all teachers across the curriculum spectrum understanding how pupils learn to read in terms of fluency but also in terms of how well they understand what they are reading and can articulate that reading in meaningful discussion, presentation or in writing an account or an essay. Placing the emphasis on learning to read only in the English lesson is missing so many opportunities to help pupils to develop as life-ling readers.

Seamless reading by the end of Key Stage 2

The recent OFSTED Research Review into English suggests that by the time pupils reach upper Key Stage 2 their knowledge of vocabulary, context and structure in reading texts should enhance their capacity to read fluently. The report suggests that this should be about how pupils demonstrate their ability to read independently in different subjects across the whole curriculum. So, teachers who teach in Key Stage 2 need some exposure to focusing on the elements of subjects other than English that require a deep focus on the reading matter pupils are expected to read as part of their learning. This must include vocabulary knowledge, contextual and conceptual knowledge, and the knowledge of language structure.

How to plan a sequenced primary school literacy strategy a live webinar focusing on literacy and reading across the curriculum.

Literacy and a love of reading for success at Key Stage 3

The statistical evidence is profound that pupils dip significantly in performance as they cross the transition bridge from primary to secondary school. The report Key Stage 3: the wasted years? criticises the issues relating to the lack of partnership across the transition bridge where there is little sharing of information about subject learning both in the core and foundation subjects. A dip in performance of anything up to 40% by the end of Year 7 should create for every curriculum and senior leader in the secondary phase a desire to want to put this right. Imagine the celebration of an increase in performance of even 10% and the knock-on effect at GCSE and beyond. It would be significant.

Crossing the transition bridge from KS2 to 3

Building on prior learning is essential and necessary to create for the pupil a sense of continuity, of self-belief and an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding. There has been 7 or 8 years of learning before pupils arrive in the secondary school. Celebrating their learning through recognition of what has been taught and learnt is so important.

The message is fundamentally the same as for Key Stage 2. Exposure to texts across the curriculum and an opportunity to learn new vocabulary, understand context, see concepts that are integral to the subject but may apply across a range of other subjects and become fluent in reading widely are part of a recipe for success.

Crossing the Transition Bridge – Creating seamless learning from Key Stage 2 to 3 a live webinar not to be missed

The secondary structure is different and the silo effect of teaching subjects in isolation means that the literacy and especially reading that underpins subject learning can seem less of a priority than exposing pupils to knowledge mainly explained by the teacher. Subject expertise should include the mantra that all teachers are teachers of English as the absolute means by which pupils can access and deepen their knowledge and understanding. Making this happen in Key Stage 3 should be an imperative for all those with the responsibility for defining their curriculum intent and rationale and for subject leaders who must empower their teams to implement a curriculum of high-quality pedagogy and learning.

Coordinating a Literacy Strategy Across the Secondary Curriculum a live webinar for those with responsibility for literacy across the curriculum
Key Stage 3: a vital stage in the curriculum jigsaw a live webinar that looks at how to ensure KS3 is the springboard for KS4 and beyond

Thank you for reading my news post. I have been involved in CPD strategies linked to the theme of reading and its power to change lives for over twenty years. My insight into this area of curriculum is borne of deep research and working closely with so many schools and colleges who have seen the transformational change that making reading the first priority and then the other key skills following closely behind has brought.

Everything we do here at Learning Cultures aims to provide training that can be cascaded so that those who receive our extensive knowledge, high-quality resources and materials and access to some challenging but very useful activities can share them with others thus ensuring that what we offer is cost – effective and enduring and has an impact on your quest for excellence and achievement for a long time after the training has been delivered.

Glynis Frater
Learning Cultures Limited
01746 765076 / 07974 754241
glynis@learningcultures.org


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