Have times ever felt so tough in your teaching career? The challenges our pupils and families are facing are many, not to mention our internal crisis of underfunding and teachers leaving the profession. We face the cost of living crisis, growing mental health issues and many parents face a lack of confidence, knowledge of books and experience in how to share them, which just becomes a repeating story down the generations.
“1 in 5 (20%) parents said they were buying fewer books for their children, increasing to 1 in 3 (36.1%) of those who were struggling financially as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.”
National Literacy Trust, Feb 2023
“In 2022, 93.5% children and young people aged 8 to 18 said that they have a book of their own at home, meaning 1 in 15 (6.5%) do not.”
National Literacy Trust, 2022
But hope can firmly hang on to reading.
“Reading for Pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success.“
Need to see more research? No problem, here are a few more pages you can dive into:
- Poverty is linked to poorer brain development – but reading can help counteract it (theconversation.com)
About the three tiered approach
The EEF suggest schools consider a tiered approach to Pupil Premium spending to ensure schools balance the use of approaches selected. The first tier is high quality teaching and should take the highest priority of our strategy and budget, ensuring pupils are taught well every day ensures success. The second tier is targeted academic support and should be directed by diagnostics and monitored well to check on impact. The third tier looks at wider strategies and allows schools to really look at the barriers to learning for their specific setting and pupils.
The teaching of reading in schools
To enjoy reading, to choose to read, pupils need to be able to do so with ease and stamina. That’s why we teach it! Teaching of reading is very much a part of your reading for pleasure strategy alongside all the other ways we nurture readers and grow a culture of reading in our schools.
What does the teaching of reading look like in your school? From phonics to comprehension and through to interventions, are the teaching, assessment and resources that enable all pupils to succeed in place?
Lots of schools I talk to have phonics in place and all the resources that go with the scheme, too. In fact, that’s where a lot of funding has been spent most recently. It’s when pupils are ‘off the programme’ that many schools haven’t quite got it right yet and are looking at how they continue to teach reading.
Quality and consistency are key to supporting reading for pleasure
Whether you deliver whole class reading lessons, guided groups or a combination of the two, it really is vital that there is a consistent approach delivered by teachers and secondly, and of equal importance, reading should be taught with quality texts.
Now, here I could wax lyrical for a very long time on what a quality text is (maybe another blog!) but for shorthand, let’s say in good condition, engaging, relevant and at the right level. And let’s add to this, it’s a biggy many schools cut corners on, be sure that there are enough copies for pupils to hold and interact with themselves.
Now, this is a big job to look at if you haven’t got it right at the moment. And let’s face it, nothing is ever right, done and complete. It’s always an evolution, an ongoing project we need to keep revisiting and reviewing. So it needs time to plan and budgeting to deliver, but most definitely worthwhile.
Summary of high quality teaching actions for reading
Here is a summary of things you can action for high-quality teaching:
- Review the teaching of reading both singularly and across the curriculum
- Train teachers and TAs in your school’s consistent approach to reading
- Review Texts/books used to teach reading and update, remembering to build in regular reviews
- Purchase adequate copies to enable all pupils can interact with the text.
Advice for developing quality texts
For big purchases like class sets, or collections of supporting books, my best guidance is to take your time or get some expert advice. It’s a big outlay and you want to be sure you’ve made the right choice.
Targeted support in reading
There are many ways pupils can be supported on their reading journey in groups and one-to-one, with adults or technology. When we set about to support pupils it absolutely must be guided by a diagnostic approach, seeking to see where the pupil is stuck and matching the targeted support to match the gap. Don’t just spray and pray, throwing interventions at pupils and hope for the best. Be sure to really consider the appropriateness of the provision for your pupils and their needs.
Don’t limit your diagnoses to phonics: it’s a good idea to assess a pupil’s fluency as well as their phonic knowledge.
If you choose to give pupils extra time reading one-to-one with an adult, this is a good blog to read and share:
If you are looking at fluency building strategies, check out the work by HFL Education:
Tackling non-academic barriers to success in reading
When it comes to tackling non-academic barriers to success in reading, we go right back to where we started this blog and think about the impact of poverty, leading to lack of books, time and confidence. So what can we do here to bridge the gap? Well just buying books and giving them to pupils doesn’t immediately make them readers, so we can’t just buy a book, give it to a pupil and job done. It’s a longer nurturing sequence that needs to be at play here. And it isn’t just about owning a few books, it’s the many here and the interest that really makes the difference.
“…findings suggest that while having any books of your own at home is likely to have an impact on reading engagement, having more than 10 books is associated with a wide range of positive reading attitudes and behaviours.”
Using Pupil Premium Grants to tackle non-academic barriers
Our Pupil Premium Grant Book Service weaves in our knowledge of research on what makes a difference along with our knowledge of children’s books and our knowledge of how schools work. Our expertise helps you have the impact you need.
It’s a service that allows children to build their own collection of books, to read and keep. Feedback from our schools who currently use the service show pupils delight in this.
“It makes me feel happy to get some new books. I like to share them with my Mum and Dad and we look at them together. I put them in my bedroom so that I can keep looking at them and I like to keep them safe because they are mine”.
Year 1 pupil
Find out more here:
Creating a buzz around reading
Each delivery is wrapped and gives that sense of being given a gift, supporting the concept that books are to be treasured. Different schools use the service in different ways, each reflecting their school community well. One school has a special book breakfast when the book deliveries arrive, and they all have a mass book opening and it creates a huge buzz around it. Families are invited to these breakfasts, too.
Another school shares the book deliveries with pupils one to one with a teaching assistant. They talk about the books together and get excited before the pupil takes them home. They speak to families about the books and encourage them to support pupils with them in the home setting. This is very much an ‘encourage and nurture’ approach.
Find out how to make reading rock at your schools
If you’d like to find out more about ways to make reading rock at your school, we are always happy to chat to and support you. When pupils choose to read of their own volition, choosing books they enjoy, this is when we get the big wins. It’s our mission to make reading rock for every child, so anything we can do to support this with our PPG funding is definitely worthwhile and worth the spend!