Schools urged to book place in reading campaign

Oxford Mail: St Nicholas Primary School headteacher Rachel Crouch at the conference Buy this photo St Nicholas Primary School headteacher Rachel Crouch at the conference

HEADTEACHERS have urged more schools to join the campaign to get Oxfordshire reading.

So far, 43 schools have agreed to take part in the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which aims to improve reading ability and foster a love of books.

Yesterday, teachers from a further 14 county schools were given a chance to quiz staff already running the programme in schools.

Rachel Crouch, headteacher at St Nicholas Primary School, Marston, which is taking part in the campaign, said many pupils arrived at school with very little English and narrowing the gap between them and more able pupils had proved “almost impossible”.

She said: “We couldn’t find any intervention programme that worked as well as this.”

The National Literacy Trust (NLT), which is running the campaign for Oxfordshire County Council, had hoped representatives from more schools would attend the conference at Unipart in Cowley, with 26 originally expected.

But deputy director Abigail Moss said as more pupils at each school were taking part in the intervention than anticipated, she was confident it would meet targets and, if a total of 60 took part, this should be achievable.

The organisation predicted it needed to work with a total of 400 children to raise attainment to the target levels.

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Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education, Melinda Tilley, said she had hoped for more, but was confident the NLT would hit its target.

She said: “If another 14 or even another 10 are going to come on board, I will be really pleased.”

Alison Holden, headteacher at St Christopher’s Primary School, Cowley, which has already signed up, was full of praise.

She said: “Our teachers came back from the training really positive, with lots of ideas of how to teach in the classroom, not just in the interventions.”

Schools have until March 18 to decide whether to take part.

Those at the conference which are considering joining were enthusiastic.

Margery Slatter, headteacher at Ewelme Primary School, said the scheme sounded “really useful” and she would be discussing the programme with staff before coming to a decision.

Alison Ashcroft, headteacher at Sutton Courtenay Primary School, said: “It’s something we would definitely be looking at.”

Louise Siddle, literacy co-ordinator at Longworth Primary School, said: “I am very keen to be part of it.”

And Natalie Collier, literacy co-ordinator at Manor School, Didcot, said: “It seems to meet a lot of things we are considering in our school improvement plan.”

Maria Seth, special educational needs co-ordinator at Tetsworth Primary School, said she “loved” the programme, with only 35 pupils at the school it would depend on their budget.

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