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Early tuition makes next stages easier
Buy this photo » Francesca Colonnese and Jenna Chrediy at St Ebbe's Primary School
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 see the latest school to sign up.
TEACHERS are hoping to boost reading skills early on so youngsters are not left with a mountain to climb to reach expected levels at the end of primary education.
St Ebbe’s Primary School, in Whitehouse Road, Oxford, has signed up to take part in the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign.
While results at Key Stage 2 are good, with 58 per cent of children achieving a higher Level 5, at Key Stage 1 pupils are not performing as well.
This year, 87 per cent achieved the expected Level 2 or above, while 67 per cent achieved a Level 2b or higher.
Headteacher Susie Bagnall said: “By the time children leave us, our reading results are significantly above average. What we like about this project is that it will get us on that upward trajectory earlier.
“Our Key Stage 1 reading results are relatively lower and this project gives us the opportunity to get them in line with the higher Key Stage 2 outcomes.”
About 41 per cent of its pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds, with 23 per cent having English as an additional language.
Twenty-one per cent have special needs and 12.5 per cent are in receipt of free school meals, a key indicator of deprivation.
The school had already identified reading as an area for development before being invited to join the programme. Mrs Bagnall said: “A number of our cohort come in with little experience of reading or books from home.
“By the time they leave us our results are significantly above average but it means in Key Stage 2 there is a massive job to do, so we want to get that started earlier.”
The school already works with charities Reading Quest and Assisted Reading for Children and has a number of parents who volunteer to read in school.
Mrs Bagnall said: “We teach the children how to read and we rely on the parents to help them practise.
“We want to immerse children in a rich culture of reading, books and stories and for them to realise that books open a multitude of worlds to them.”
Teaching assistant Simon Mullins has been chosen to lead the reading intervention programme, while the school is in the process of finding a volunteer co-ordinator.
Mrs Bagnall said: “We have particularly chosen a male teaching assistant in order for him to act as a role model to our boys.”
The school has a large library filled with thousands of books, which was created after a major fundraising campaign organised by long-standing former chairman of governors Jill McCleery.
Key Stage 1 co-ordinator Jill Hannington said the school encouraged youngsters to come into contact with different genres, including non-fiction.
She said like in most schools, boys tended to be more reluctant readers but said there were also girls who did not appear interested.
She said: “There are a few children that come from white middle class backgrounds that are finding reading difficult and boys that don’t want to read. But we have got a huge love of books here.”
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