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Literacy The class where the children made the most progress during the eight

months was 3A. The average reading age started at seven years, nine months rising to nine years, one month at the midpoint and then to nine years, 11 months at the end. This meant that on average the pupils in this class made an incredible increase in their reading age of two years, two months. The average for the whole school was 18 months and we were

delighted with this result. It was not surprising that we achieved some of the most dramatic

results in year 3. These children are new to our school having moved up from their infant schools and we find they are desperately eager to please and their parents tend to be very supportive of the new school. We were pleased with the progress of our year 6 children as we have

had traditionally less support from these parents in our home-school books. This year, however, that trend was bucked and with very good role-modelling from the year 6 teachers, children in this year group made an average increase of 17 months during the eight month period. I would also like to add that for the first time ever, we achieved 100 per

cent Level 4 in reading in this year’s end of key stage SATs. This indicated to us that our work had impacted effectively on our year 6 children’s reading for understanding.

What brought about these results? It was definitely a combination of many factors that helped bring about such significant improvements in children’s reading ages, but in my mind there were two factors in particular that played a highly significant part in the success of the project – guided reading and parental support.

Guided reading – I know this is not new and is done well in many primary schools throughout the country, but I have to admit that at Anton we had lost our way a bit and having a relaunch proved to be very successful. We carried out some training as to how guided reading can be carried

out most effectively and used staff meetings to discuss this. We gave teachers options as to how they wanted to structure their guided sessions throughout the week and two different models were adopted. Most teachers did their guided reading at 9am each morning. This

resulted in many parents bringing their children into school for the start of the day and then staying for half-an-hour to hear readers. Two

“There were two factors in particular

that played a highly significant part in the success of the project – guided reading and parental support.”

classes decided to have a guided reading afternoon. This meant that for one whole afternoon the children rotated around reading activities. This model was also successful in attracting parent volunteers. Using our guided reading sessions we insisted that every teacher must

hear every child read every week and write a brief comment in each child’s home-school book. In addition each child was also being heard read by a member of

support staff and often a parent. On average, children were reading aloud to an adult in school three times per week. We tried to keep the “holding activities” interesting for the children.

We used comics for a group to read, as well as story CDs with headphones and multiple copies of books so six pupils could all follow the story together. These activities proved popular. We carried out a learning walk looking at guided reading in every

class. Teachers were provided with positive feedback as well as some suggestions for improvement.

Support of parents We were able to get the support of the vast majority of our parents. This is not something I believe we could have achieved so easily years ago, as our parents were a little suspicious and often cynical of education and were not always keen to support the work of the school. Over recent years we have worked in partnership with parents and feel that we have now got them on board. They certainly bought into this initiative. We send home a weekly newsletter every Thursday and this year we put in regular bite-sized chunks of information about supporting


children’s reading. I included an extract from an article stating that the teenage pupils who showed the most sustained progress in reading were the youngsters whose parents had read with them regularly when they were younger. Interestingly, the kids whose teachers had read with them, rather than their parents, did not make the same sustained progress. Our home-school books that we have used as a means of communication

between staff and parents for several years were used even more effectively this year. Teachers and support staff were checking them with increased regularity and as a result there was a more effective dialogue between home and school. Most parents were writing reading comments at least five times a week and if a parent was not completing the book in the way that we had asked, my deputy or I followed it up with them. We introduced a reading reward raffle that took place in Achievement

Assembly every Friday. We set children the challenge of reading to an adult at home every day. If their home-school book showed seven comments from home in a week their name was entered in the reading raffle. Every Friday we would draw out several names and these children could choose from more than 100 brand new books (purchased for £1 each from the Bookpeople). On average we give away between six and eight books each week and as a result we had more than half the school reading every day at home. Early in the year, we staged a reading meeting for parents that was attended

by 55 mums and dads. In order to avoid “preaching to the converted”, we wrote to some parents specifically inviting those whose children we felt would benefit. Inevitably, some of those parents attended and some chose not to. It was an interesting and entertaining hour that was very well received by parents. Before they left we asked them to write any thoughts, comments or suggestions. We collected and collated these and discussed them with the staff. In addition to guided reading and parental support there were other

factors that I feel contributed to the increased reading ages of our pupils: n We began to make use of reading mentors – most notably our school caretaker who plays for the town football team and has been a really positive role model for year 3. We have only dipped our toe in the water with this and it is something that we are determined to develop further next year.

n We wanted to keep reading high profile, so made a photograph display of all staff individually reading – at home and in school. Some were pictured reading their favourite books, some with magazines, some with Sunday papers. It was a very simple thing to do but the children really liked it.

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