Aim: To encourage students to sustain and extend their reading at KS4 in order to raise overall attainment.
Background: Many students have English as an additional language. The students do not necessarily come from homes where reading is an accessible diversion and therefore there is less modelling of reading from adults. The transition and progress from KS4 to KS5 were notably less successful than for other stages of the school. Gaining experience in reading longer and more complex texts independently was considered the key to making this transition easier.
Year 1: A Book to Film club was introduced and a whole-school assembly focused on Book Week. Some reciprocal reading pairs were established and Year 10 students reported increased confidence through helping younger students. Progress was measured through comments taken from those involved at the end of the programme.
Year 2: A programme of specialist talks by teachers was developed for KS4 and KS5 students. Using KS5 students to promote reading to younger students through speed-dating was a successful model as it created genuine interest in the texts and supported the idea that more social activities around books would be a strong way to develop reading skills.
Year 3: A Book of the Month scheme was introduced which promoted a different title each month to be discussed in tutor groups and then available from the library in class sets. Students were encouraged to write reviews.
Evidence: Student questionnaires, assembly PowerPoint.
Impact: The students reported that the Book to Film club, made them try different books, or even if they did not read the book, helped them learn about different books. The response to the lecture series was very positive and attendance fairly steady, although the impact on KS4 students was limited. A session delivered by a former student who had gone on to do her PhD at Cambridge was particularly successful. The speed-dating activities were successful to the extent that plenty of conversations took place between Sixth Form and younger students but again few KS4 students were involved because they felt overburdened by exams and study support.
Reflections: The range of different activities undertaken during the project has been impressive and has given us a good insight into the ways KS4 might be further engaged with developing reading for pleasure in the future. The most successful activities were those which took the focus out of the usual learning areas, e.g. Book of the Month and teacher lectures. We will be following up these ideas in future and gaining feedback about the impact they have on students.
We have learned several things. Firstly, that it is better to develop a single activity over time and focus on getting feedback from that to develop in the next year. Secondly, that creating more staff involvement both in the department and across the school is the key to creating and sustaining momentum.
Contact: Polly Kerr, firstname.lastname@example.org; Helen Onyemere, email@example.com