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School trying to stop boys lagging behind
WITH boys outnumbering girls three to two at Dry Sandford Primary School, the challenge is on to make reading cool.
The school, which has just 130 pupils, is the latest to sign up to the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
Ithad already identified reading as an important part of the school’s development plan and is hoping to improve reading standards at Key Stage 1, while making the subject a focus across the whole school.
While 91 per cent of children achieved the expected Level 2 or above at Key Stage 1 this summer and 70 per cent Level 2b or higher, that was a drop on the previous year’s achievements.
Headteacher Karen Harrington said: “We want to improve educational outcomes for our children and reading impacts on all areas of the curriculum.
“We also have parental engagement as part of our improvement objectives and I think this will help raise aspirations, not only for the children but hopefully engage their parents in supporting their children more at home.”
She said she would like the school’s Key Stage results to be in line with local authority and national levels next year and exceed them the following year.
Mrs Harrington said: “As a small school it (the reading campaign) is a valuable package for us, particularly the staff development aspect.
“And, of course, we want children to love reading and be confident.
“Boys always seem to lag slightly behind the girls, they have different styles of reading, and we have noticed the Project X Code materials (used in the campaign) are boy-focused and we hope that will inspire them.”
Ben Evetts, six, said: “I like scary books. I like to read with my mum and dad and I like to read in bed.”
Jack Cornford, six, said: “I like reading the Snow Monster because he scares children. It’s exciting.
“I like to read on my own in my bed.”
Suzanne Thomson will lead the reading intervention and the school is still deciding on a volunteer co-ordinator.
A small but growing number of pupils speak English as an additional language – about six per cent – while 20 per cent have special needs.Between 14 and 16 per cent are from Armed Service families.
The school has invested several thousand pounds in books and upgrading its library, which will take place this year.
A lunchtime book club has been launched, and regular book fairs have brought in hundreds of pounds.
A mobile library visits regularly, and the school has also taken youngsters to Oxford’s Central Library.
Literacy co-ordinator Anne Wright said: “We know we have a boy-heavy cohort so we have tried to find texts that will engage them.”
That includes things like sports annuals.
And a male school governor comes in on a weekly basis working just with boys.
Mrs Wright said: “However much you try to make it interesting, they need to see other role models within the school reading.
“That becomes cool and we have a lot of football, rugby and other sports related work which they get to read.
“They get to spend a quality 10 to 15 minutes with the governor and talk football in school.”
Reading records are kept, showing what children are reading outside school.
The school also teams up with other partnership schools to arrange about three author visits a year.
The Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail, to improve reading standards in the youngest children. The goals are to:
Improve the proportion of children who reach Level 2B at Key Stage 1 to 86 per cent – a rise of 12 percentage points.
Increase enjoyment of and confidence in reading.
Eighty-one schools across the county, chosen based on Key Stage 1 results over the past three years, are being invited to take part.
The campaign is being run by the National Literacy Trust and will involve:
A reading intervention programme called Project X Code working with Year 2 children in up to 81 county primaries.
Volunteers coming in to schools to read one-to-one with the children involved in the Project X Code programme.
Training and professional development for teachers, teaching assistants, literacy co-ordinators and headteachers.
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