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Get Oxfordshire Reading: Campaign launched to improve children's literacy
Buy this photo » Aaliyah Safdon and Jaya Dhariwai reading at St Ebbe's Primary in Oxford
THE gauntlet has been thrown down to the whole of Oxfordshire to help get children reading.
The Oxfordshire Reading Campaign is being launched today to help boost children’s literacy skills and foster a lifelong love of reading.
Parents and the wider community are being asked to give up their own time to help make a real difference to young readers.
There will be many ways for people to get directly involved in the campaign over the next two years.
Oxfordshire County Council has set aside £585,142 for its reading campaign, which is being backed by the Oxford Mail and run by the National Literacy Trust.
Today we can also reveal the 81 county primary schools across the county it has invited to take part.
The campaign launch follows a string of statistics which showed youngsters were underperforming at all levels, particularly at Key Stage 1.
County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said: “When I first took this job and realised how very low down the league tables we are, I asked if we could do some sort of scheme.
“It has taken much longer than I thought because these things move very slowly.
“Initially everyone said ‘we have tried all this before and it didn’t work’ but this time it’s collected its own set of legs and I am very encouraged and really looking forward to it.”
There are two main goals to the campaign. The first is to increase the number of seven-year-olds achieving a Level 2b at age seven – higher than the expected Level 2 – to 86 per cent by 2014. This represents a rise of 12 percentage points.
The other is to increase enjoyment and confidence in reading.
The invited schools have been identified using data relating to Key Stage 1 results over the last three years.
No school will be told they must take part in the two-year programme.
But those that do will benefit from training and professional development, provided by Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, for teaching assistants, teachers, literacy co-ordinators and headteachers.
A reading intervention programme, delivered by teaching assistants in school and using the Project X Code books produced by Oxford University Press, will run alongside a one-to-one volunteer reading scheme, all working with Year 2 pupils.
Alongside the work in school will be a campaign aimed at getting parents, families, businesses, and the wider community involved.
Among the schools invited to sign up is Cutteslowe Primary School in North Oxford. Headteacher Jon Gray said he hoped to find out more about what was involved before making a final decision.
But he said: “Anything that supports children and supports schools to move children forward is a good thing.”
Tina Farr, headteacher of Carswell Primary School, Abingdon, said: “It sounds great. I think we are likely to want to do it.”
Susie Bagnall, headteacher at St Ebbe’s Primary School, South Oxford, said: “I think it’s a very positive initiative and fits with an area of school development for us.
“I am very impressed by the level of detail and the support offered and we are looking forward to participating.”
Those who have already pledged to provide support include the National Union of Teachers and county libraries.
- Visit oxfordshirereading.co.uk to find out more about how to get involved
What sparked the campaign
- Nov 2010: Key Stage 1 results at schools in Oxford revealed as worst in country, with almost a quarter failing to reach expected levels in reading. Oxfordshire placed second from bottom in list of similar local authority areas.
- Feb 2011: Oxfordshire County Council plans an inquiry into the results.
- May 2011: Cabinet member for schools improvement, Michael Waine, stands down but denies poor results are reason. Melinda Tilley appointed to succeed him.
- Oct 2011: New tests show Oxford city is still bottom for writing but has made slight improvements in maths and reading in Key Stage One results.
- Nov 2011: Six-point improvement plan launched
- Dec 2011: Key Stage 2 results which show nearly a third of Oxford 11-year-olds fail to get the expected grade branded “rubbish” by Mrs Tilley.
- May 2012: New county council leader Ian Hudspeth told to make improving education standards a priority by Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron.
- July 2012: Campaign to improve reading standards at primary schools launched.
- Sep 2012: Full details of scheme revealed.
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