Tag Archives: books

‘Reading Matters’ brings together those passionate about Closing the Literacy Gap

A locally-based charity who work to improve reading skills and life chances for young people held their annual literacy conference last week.

This year’s conference was created to address the issue of ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ and how to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve the same as their more fortunate peers.

Popular children’s authors, Tom Palmer and Andy Seed both presented at the conference speaking about ways to make reading more accessible for all children and the role that authors can play in igniting a love of reading.

The conference keynote speech was delivered by Bradford-born Matt Bromley, a leading education writer and consultant who was able to raise his own aspirations and academic achievement above those expected by his circumstances by becoming an avid reader.

Matt spoke of the importance of reading for pleasure on social mobility and how the “word rich” will inevitably become more affluent and the “word poor” more impoverished. He implored teachers, as those who have the “superpower” of being literate and loving books to pass it on and stressed the value of parents reading to their children at home.

The highlight of the day was when children from two Bradford schools – Dixon’s Kings Academy and Bowling Park Primary School spoke to the enthralled delegates about how their Reading Leaders training had helped them to improve the confidence and reading ability of their younger reading partners.

The Reading Leaders training which prepares older pupils to provide effective one to one reading support to the younger ones is a great way to engage children from disadvantaged backgrounds who often learn better from other young people.

The other expert speakers were Dr Paula Clarke of The University of Leeds who shared strategies for teaching language comprehension to support those that struggle, Deborah Bullivant of the Grimm and Co social enterprise in Rotherham that uses an apothecary shop as the inspiration for creative writing and Rachel Van Riel who shared tips on how to make library spaces for children as attractive and accessible as possible.

Workshops covered topics relevant to ‘Closing the Literacy Gap’ including the best support for those with English as an additional language and using comics to enhance learning.

Over 150 people attended the conference, mainly teachers from primary and secondary schools along with librarians, learning mentors and other education professionals with some travelling from as far as London to be part of this motivating event.

Rachel Kelly, Chief Executive of Reading Matters said: “It was a really inspiring and enjoyable day and it’s so great to bring together all these people who are dedicated to doing their best for children and helping them to reach their potential”.

Reading Matters has been helping young people to read with confidence and enthusiasm since 1997 and provides schools with Reading Mentors in South and West Yorkshire. Their accredited training courses are available nationwide for peer mentors, education professionals and parents.

The charity, which specialises in one to one reading support for young struggling and relucatant readers currently helps around 6,800 children each year with an average improvement in reading age of 13 months in just 10 hours.

For more information please see the charity’s website: www.readingmatters.org.uk

Follow Reading Matters on Twitter:  @reading_matters

 

 

Bradford Hub boosts development with Early Language and Literacy Project

A joint early years project in Bradford has raised low development levels in reception-aged children.

The Early Language and Literacy Project was created by our Early Childhood Services and the National Literacy Trust’s Bradford Hub, in partnership with the Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School Alliance and the Innovation Centre Bradford (TICB). The project was rolled out to eight Bradford primary schools, with children’s centres across the district also being invited to take part, which promoted opportunities for joint working and information sharing between them and the schools.

The programme had a significant impact on the eight Bradford schools who took part.

Across the eight schools:

  • The number of children achieving a Good Level of Development (GLD) score increased by an average of 9%, which is more than double the LA increase
  • The Good Level of Development scores across the eight schools increased by 12%
  • The gap between boys and girls achieving a Good Level of Development score narrowed by 18%

The programme was launched in response to the low GLD scores achieved by Bradford children, an issue which was particularly pronounced in schools in Bradford’s most deprived neighbourhoods. There was also a significant gap between genders, with boys achieving significantly lower GLD scores than girls.

The Early Language and Literacy Project is a three-strand approach which supports schools to address their low development levels. The three programme strands are focused on training and supporting teachers at eight different Bradford schools. The programme included:

  • An Early Writing CPD course for teachers, where they learnt about what encourages young children’s writing and developed strategies to build on that knowledge
  • Workshops on the ‘Sharing Stories Together’ initiative, which is a project aimed at building up parents’ skills as storytellers, which the teachers could then adapt for their classrooms
  • A Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) course, which is a course designed to look at how teachers and practitioners can better engage dads and male carers in children’s early literacy

Imran Hafeez, Manager of the National Literacy Trust’s Hub in Bradford, said:

“The results from the pilot are very encouraging and have demonstrated the value of partnership working. We were clear that we wanted a programme to support practitioners in the classroom and at the same time strengthen links with parents through tools like sharing stories and fathers reading to their children. This has encouraged schools to shine a positive light on the value of parental involvement in supporting reading and writing for enjoyment and develop stronger links as a result. In the next year we look forward to working with another 10 primary schools and presenting the programme to the education endowment fund”.

Chris Tolson, Head of Teaching and Learning at Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School Alliance, said:

“This first phase of this project saw system leaders deployed to support class teachers and provide school-to-school support. This way of working proved very effective and was a key ingredient to the project’s success. It is a great example of partnership working and shows how leaders and teachers can support each other to improve outcomes for pupils across Bradford.”

Lynn Donohue, Early Years Strategic Manager at Bradford Council, said:

“As a result of our annual thorough analysis of pupil performance at the end of reception year it was clear that, although the performance of our 5 year-olds is improving strongly in Bradford, there was still some low pupil performance in reading and writing and for some groups of pupils.  We identified that the gap between the performance of boys and girls was increasing and the gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and non-free school meals was not closing. This piece of work has enabled us to really target resource and expertise in the design and development of this intervention through our delivery partners. The first pilot in 2015-16 has resulted in some early evidence of success and already delivered improved outcomes for our young children; as a result of this, we are engaging in a second year with our partners.’

Premier League Reading Stars boosts pupils’ reading and writing skills at Girlington Primary School

Girlington Primary School and the National Literacy Trust Hub in Bradford ran the Premier League Reading Stars (PLRS) programme during the summer term. Assistant Headteacher, Daniel Walker hoped the programme would help to improve the reading ability and attitudes of pupils in Year 5 and Year 6.

He said: “At the launch of the programme in the school assembly, we told pupils that they must write a letter to apply for a place on the team. Eleven pupils were chosen because we felt that they would benefit the most from taking part.”

An area in the school library was set up as the PLRS team corner, with tasks and a stadium poster on the wall to track their successes in the different challenges.. Throughout the programme, Mr Walker used a range of techniques to create and maintain and sense of inclusion and team spirit:

“The pupils were allowed to wear their football kits on PLRS days and we also let them take penalty shots with me in goal as a reward for completing challenges. We also offered some football coaching and chances to play matches after the sessions.”

At each fixture the boys quizzed each other about the books they’d read and their interpretations and ideas. Mr Walker said the group made significant progress by taking part in PLRS:

“All boys who took part in the programme made more than expected progress in reading. Two boys made two sub levels of progress, which is the equivalent of more than a year’s expected progress in one term. One boy made dramatic progress of a whole level (3 sub-levels) in a term.”

Participating in PLRS also had a huge impact on the attitudes of the boys, who were very enthusiastic about the programme. Each boy was able to name their favourite book and spoke in great detail about the different activities and reading challenges they had taken part in.

When asked why they thought their reading had improved, persistence was identified as a strong reason. Several of the group described how previously they would skip over difficult words but now they would look them up online or ask a teacher or parents to help them. They all agreed that they now wanted to understand what they were reading rather than just doing it because they had too. One boy commented:

“I used to find it hard to have a picture in my head of what was going on and I would give up. Now I keep trying. Sometimes I have to re-read some of the books to get there”.

As well as reading, several members of the group also identified positive effects the programme had had on their writing. One boy said that his handwriting was getting better because he had more that he wanted to say, so he was doing more writing and getting better. They all agreed that their vocabulary had also improved, as they knew and used more descriptive words.

The team aspect of the programme was a clear highlight for many of the boys.