TEACHERS have welcomed a new programme to help boost literacy skills among primary school pupils.

The Gaining Momentum scheme, a partnership between the county council and the National Literacy Trust, follows the success of the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which ran for two years from 2012 to boost literacy skills in primary school pupils.

Now the Gaining Momentum programme is being rolled out to Key Stage 3 to make sure older students also feel the benefit.

Teachers in the first 10 participating schools will receive specialist literacy training tailored to their subject.

English teacher Alice Visser, who is coordinating the programme at King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage, said: “I’m really excited. This is my life passion. Gaining Momentum has allowed us to push forward, not just from within the English department. Staff are really enthusiastic.

“We have got a group of people that are willing to make a change throughout the school.”

Each school has three subject leaders chosen by the school; King Alfred’s chose maths, science and humanities.

They receive training and coaching from the NLT.

King Alfred’s is also encouraging teachers to use authentic reading from real-world sources and employ new strategies to help students with spelling.

Meanwhile, Larkmead School in Abingdon has pursued its own literary agenda in the run-up to Gaining Momentum.

Over the past year it has run initiatives from Power Hour, an after-school extra help club, to First Story, a project with a writer-inresidence where students put together their own book of short stories.

Year Eight students have also been partnered with Year Five pupils from Thameside Primary for reading exercises and games.

In 2014, English GCSE scores at Larkmead jumped by 13 per cent, with 6.2 per cent more achieving five A*-C grades including English and Maths.

At Icknield Community College, Watlington, innovations have included awards for students reading a million words or more, Grammar Police badges for older students and an American-style spelling bee to be held this term.

The first 10 schools signed up to Gaining Momentum, of a planned 20, are Blessed George Napier Catholic School, Carterton Community College, Cooper School, Faringdon Community College, Gosford Hill School, Henry Box School, Icknield Community College, King Alfred’s Academy, Larkmead School and Warriner School.

Reading Campaign success

  • The two-year Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was launched in 2012, responding to poor Key Stage 1 and 2 results in 2010 and 2010.
  • Backed by the Oxford Mail, the scheme was rolled out to 81 primary schools in the county.
  • It aimed to increase the number of seven-year-olds achieving a Level 2b or above in national reading assessments at age seven to 86 per cent by 2014. It also promoted enjoyment of and enthusiasm for reading. p The full evaluation report for the original campaign has just been published.
  • Overall, pupils reaching the level of 2b or above increased by 8 per cent, from 75 per cent in 2011/12 to 83 per cent in 2013/14.
  • This was compared with 77 per cent of pupils in target schools, who did not take part in the campaign.
  • A full 100 per cent of pupils who took part now read regularly, with 50 per cent read at least once a day and 50 per cent at least several times a week.