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'This is too good an opportunity to miss'
Buy this photo » Freya Garton and Hanna Horbury look through the books at Windmill Primary School
IMPROVEMENTS in Key Stage 1 results and enthusiasm for reading are what one school hopes to gain from the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
Windmill Primary School, in Headington, is among the first schools to sign up.
This year 83 per cent of youngsters got a Level 2 or higher in Key Stage 1 reading, and 75 per cent a Level 2b or above.
But headteacher Lynn Knapp said she would like to see the proportion of children achieving Level 2b to rise to 80 per cent.
She said: “This seemed too good an opportunity to miss in terms of all the training available and all the expertise of all the people involved.
“If you can get volunteers in, it means you get many more opportunities for children to read in a week than a teacher can offer alone and quite often that’s the key to getting a child to read.”
The school already works with the charity Assisted Reading for Children, and has five people who come in to read with Year 2 and 3 children each week.
Windmill has already bought the Project X Code books, which will be used for the teacher assistant-led reading.
The teaching assistant who will lead the programme in school will be Sharon Gee, while Year 1 co-ordinator Jackie Aspden will act as volunteer co-ordinator.
Mrs Knapp said: “We know they are effective for children who have been reluctant readers.
“Our children do like books but we want to make children excited about literacy generally.
“We hope it will also have an impact on their writing.”
The school, where 40 per cent of children have English as an additional language and one in four special needs, had previously identified reading as a priority.
Activities already in place include storytelling, a lunch-time book club and a comprehensive phonics programme.
Parents are encouraged to get involved through a home-school reading diary and by reading with their children at the beginning of the school day, while governors are also set to be involved, potentially as volunteers.
Mrs Knapp said her own son struggled with reading and didn’t master it until around seven.
She said: “When he got there it opened up so many doors.”
Year 2 teacher Lydia Grates was full of enthusiasm for the programme.
She said: “It’s so important that children have a love of reading and enjoy what they are reading and get excited about stories.
“We do phonics three times a week and a lot of those sessions involve guided reading.
“I also try to read one to one at times, and often at the end of the day I will read to the whole class which I love doing.”
School literacy co-ordinator Su Calvert said good reading skills were the basis of everything the children learned. She said: “They need the foundation blocks of reading to take part in the whole curriculum.
“We do a whole mix of things, group guided reading, shared reading, and we read a story with the children every day and as they get older that’s a longer novel.
“We do a lot of synthetic phonics work, a lot of questioning and the children talking with each other about it and trying to get them to enjoy what they’re reading and not find it a chore.”
She said it was “amazing” when youngsters made the leap and became readers.
She said: “We had some children last year who at the beginning of the year literally couldn’t read and by the end they were reading the instructions of what they needed to do and getting excited about books.”