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Without good reading skills, learners risk getting left behind, warns Fiona Evans – so let’s do what we can to stop that happening...
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Almost 155,000 young people began Year 7 this September unable to read well. If these students don’t get the help they need to turn their reading around, their entire education could be limited.
In fact, in 2016, just 11% of learners who had started Year 7 unable to read well achieved a C grade or above in their English and maths GCSEs.
Happily, it’s never too late to make a difference; and here are some ways you could help:
Get to know your students who are struggling with their reading. Work with them to identify the biggest barrier they are facing and then implement the right reading intervention to tackle it.
The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Research and Policy Guide is filled with evidence-based interventions on everything from comprehension to decoding, while programmes like Accelerated Reader can help your students improve their reading mileage.
Helping students discover a love of reading is vital. Make sure an orientation around the school library, if you have one, is timetabled in the first few weeks.
Encourage tutors, and other subject teachers to take part in these sessions alongside the librarian. Reading should be a choice, not a chore, so let your students’ interests guide them.
We know this approach works; our Skills Academy programme helps Year 7 and 8 students improve their reading, rewarding their progress by teaching them exciting football tricks.
In just 10 weeks, 1 in 3 participating students improve their reading age by an average of 11 months. In the coming months, we will be adapting this programme to tap into students’ other interests, such as beatboxing.
Seeing their peers enjoying and valuing books can be a great inspiration for students who don’t read much. Try setting up a reading buddy scheme, or book club, where older learners read and discuss books with younger pupils. Book talk and discussion is at the heart of developing comprehension skills.
Leading by example, you can help your students develop positive attitudes to reading. Showing students that teachers of all subjects – not just English – read books, is really important:
Parents are key to developing a student’s reading. As teachers, there are a number of ways you can help to encourage good reading habits outside the classroom:
Fiona Evans is head of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust. For more information and advice, visit literacytrust.org.uk.
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