A MAJOR campaign to get Oxfordshire reading has been launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail. The authority has set aside more than half a million pounds for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
The goal is for a dramatic increase in the proportion of children achieving the higher levels at Key Stage 1 reading, which are taken by seven-year-olds, and to foster a life-long love of reading.
The campaign, run by the National Literacy Trust, will see an army of volunteers being sent in to read with the children who need the most help in 81 focus schools, plus a range of school improvement measures including training at all levels.
Today we talk to the latest school to join the scheme, Glory Farm in Bicester
YOUNGER children are pairing up with older pupils to help spread the reading bug.
Glory Farm Primary School, in Bicester, is among the latest to sign up to the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
Headteacher Paul Ducker said taking part in the scheme was “an opportunity we couldn’t miss”.
He said: “We felt it would not only have an impact on the children we are working with now but also future groups of children.”
In summer 2012, 88 per cent of pupils at the school achieved Level 2 or above in reading and 78 per cent a Level 2b or higher.
Of those, 25 per cent had special needs and 18 per cent were in receipt of free school meals.
The school has been using a phonics programme for eight years and already uses interventions for children who are not making expected progress.
Liz Osborn, special educational needs and inclusion co-ordinator, said: “Any child who doesn’t make expected progress, we put something in for them, whether it is a catch-up or something more intensive.”
The school also uses an internet programme called Reading Eggs which children can access from home and includes games to get children interested in the books they are reading.
Volunteers from charity Assisted Reading for Children help with youngsters mainly in Key Stage 2, while there are also a number of parent volunteers who read with children in the lower years.
Children take part in guided reading, while there are whole class texts which are read together.
The school also took part in the Oxfordshire Book Awards, with a group of children visiting the awards ceremony and meeting the authors they had nominated to win.
Mrs Osborn said: “We have been trying things like paired reading, whereby older children go and support younger children and we are hoping to extend that through our partnership with the Cooper School. It is effective and it does really motivate the older and the younger children.
“It works, especially with boys because if the younger boy doesn’t enjoy reading very much they are linked with an older, cool boy who does.
“It’s about changing boys’ perceptions about reading.”
Year 2 teacher Hannah Lyon added: “At Key Stage 1 there is less of a difference between boys and girls and they are still enthusiastic to read but into Key Stage 2, it becomes less cool. It’s trying to get over the hurdle of reading becoming a chore and actually reading for enjoyment.”
Mr Ducker said he would like 90 per cent of pupils to reach Level 2b in reading by the end of Key Stage 1.
SUPPORTING THE GET OXFORDSHIRE READING CAMPAIGN
‘I think the love of reading is the most important thing you can give to a child – apart from love. Reading is absolutely essential for later life, for both work and also for expanding your horizons and enjoyment of life generally. A love of reading never leaves you. I think the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign is fantastic and I completely support it.’
West Oxfordshire district councillor Richard Langridge, cabinet member for local economy, communities and culture, who is the council’s young persons champion
'We are passionate readers of books in this household, we love reading. I helped children read in a primary school. They were about seven and struggling a bit but overjoyed when they realised words mean more than just signs on a page. One boy was reading when he said to me ‘that rhymes’, and the little light went on in his mind, and after that he saw the point of reading.’
Monica Lovatt, mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames
'From my own experience as a child, reading opened a magical experience for me. In books I was with those children having adventures or going to places I had never seen. If you can’t read you are cut off from so much, you can’t enter into so many things...’
Crime novelist Ann Granger, from Bicester