Whether you are a classroom teacher, literacy coordinator, SLT or support staff, helping develop students’ reading fluency is highly complex.
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to supporting reading that the task can quickly become a quagmire, engulfing huge swathes of time, money and resources… But it needs to be done.
Reading, as we all know, is one of the most vital skills that students must master if they wish to succeed universally, both in their academic pursuits, and in life more generally.
With a strong correlation between literacy ability and exam outcomes, the balancing act between curriculum time and explicit support time to develop reading becomes more difficult to manage.
Whether you look at work and jobs, or simple everyday life, reading is one of the key foundations in our society. Reading is also the gateway to successful verbal communication, with the former hugely supporting the latter in terms of the ability to express thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Too many schools are stunned into inaction when it comes to literacy. Long meetings where “traditional” interventions are suggested (and sometimes implemented) often lead to support of very few learners, predominantly due to time and money constraints, not through lack of effort or quality of application.
Getting learners to improve reading en masse is something that a lot of schools are still missing. Having sat in the hot-seat for many years on literacy strategy, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to do something that is meaningful for a group of students.
Time constraints are a huge issue when it comes to supporting the development of reading. For students to improve in terms of their speed and comprehension, they need to practise – but in a guided and supported way.
“Time constraints are a huge issue when it comes to supporting the development of reading.”
Often, it is difficult to provide this support given the curriculum weight during KS2, KS3 and KS4, not to mention the constraints on staff. Having a tool that supports learners as they develop is the key to success with reading progression – a tool that adapts and evolves with the learner.
There is also a stark irony that a lot of adults are not strong readers because they were not supported when they themselves were at school. As such, support at home varies considerably depending on a number of factors (which we won’t get into here).
Depending on a student’s home situation, the support they receive around reading can vary immensely – what teachers and students need is a tool to level the field and make reading easily accessible and supported… No mean feat.
With the rise of technology in the classroom (and around education more generally following Covid), it seems high time that schools begin to consider alternatives to “traditional” reading intervention methods.
Reading Solutions’ Reading Plus is an evidence-based, online adaptive reading development programme that accelerates reading growth, closes the reading gap, and encourages reluctant readers.
The programme improves students’ reading fluency, stamina, and comprehension, developing their fluency skills to read well and confidently.
It is packed full of independent online activities and engaging texts to challenge all students with a range of reading abilities – a perfect tool to address the issues that plague many schools when it comes to reading development.
What’s best is that from a teacher or support staff perspective, the programme does the work for you, meaning that students build self-efficacy, progressing at their own pace.
The adaptability of the program means that learners progress in a supported fashion with exercises and extracts being selected to suit the performance of the learner. This data-driven selection of texts (dare I say it) is more accurate, and significantly more time efficient, than a teacher or support staff member doing one-to-one reading.
“What’s best is that from a teacher or support staff perspective, the programme does the work for you, meaning that students build self-efficacy, progressing at their own pace.”
The key to development is exposure. Reading Plus supports students with a readability age from Year 2 to GCSE (Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4). It supports good teaching first and provides ongoing help for every pupil – with actionable data-driven progress monitoring reports for teachers.
Not only does the programme allow learners to rapidly improve their reading, it also supports independent learning and acts as a brilliant motivational tool when it comes to developing reading.
Reading Plus can be used in school and accessed from home via various devices (laptop, computer, tablet) so the pace of development can be increased by the student not if but when they become more motivated about reading.
One of the massive characteristics that Reading Plus nurtures and builds is confidence. As confidence with reading builds, so does the likelihood that learners will engage in more reading – it’s eye-catching how successful this programme can be.
Is Reading Plus a silver bullet for the barriers that low literacy levels create? No, I don’t think so.
Is Reading Plus a tool that gives schools a meaningful chance to help learners develop their reading ability and fluency sustainably? Certainly, yes.
Having support from a programme like Reading Plus makes success through a supported reading programme a realistic goal. Not only that, it doesn’t considerably add to the workload of teachers, meaning that reading development and curriculum are not in direct competition.
Reading strategy will always be something that is fiercely debated in schools, but what we can all agree on is that we need to do all we can to help young people see the value of the written word and equip them as best we can to decode an ever-changing and more complicated world efficiently and effectively.