Reading Campaign: Project turns a chapter

The Oxford Times: Longworth Primary School pupil Amy Bowers Longworth Primary School pupil Amy Bowers

LITTLE Amy Bowers shows she has reached chapter two of one of her books at Longworth Primary School, just as the flagship Oxfordshire Reading Campaign reaches its second chapter.

The scheme was launched to improve the county’s disappointing literacy levels amongst seven-year-olds and today Oxfordshire County Council is opening it up to every primary school to join.

Forty-three schools signed up to the scheme when it was launched in September and council council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “I really would like to spread the campaign out because it is proving really good.”

Campaign is already making a difference

THE first few months of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign have been hailed a success.

Forty-three of the 81 focus schools invited to take part signed up, and feedback from those involved has been overwhelmingly positive.

And those in charge of the scheme, including the National Literacy Trust which is running it and Oxfordshire County Council which is funding it, said they were not disappointed by the numbers.

Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “I am not disappointed at all.

“Schools are totally autonomous and, if they don’t want to take part, there is not much we can do about it. Quite a few of them had put in a process themselves and so were reluctant to put more pressure on teaching staff, so that may be one of the reasons some decided against it,” she added.

Peter Cansell, headteacher at Harwell Primary School, one of the schools taking part, said: “We are already seeing positive results for some of the children involved after a very short time.

“The children involved are all very enthusiastic about the project.”
And at Gateway Primary School, Carterton, the results are starting to filter beyond the classroom.

Teaching assistant Tracy Matthias said: “We have already seen results.
“Some of the children are reading at home every day, which was not happening before in some cases.

“Each one of them has grown in confidence and ability during the short time I have been reading with them.”

The campaign was launched after Oxford was named as the worst in the country in all subjects at Key Stage 1 in 2010. But in September, the proportion of Oxford seven-year-olds achieving expected levels in reading and in writing showed an improvement.

The schools which decided against joining the scheme did so for a number of reasons.

Some had already embarked on their own literacy drives, while several schools in Oxford have been invited to take part in a different scheme organised by Oxford City Council, which covers reading and writing.

Mrs Tilley said she had no problems with schools deciding to plump for the city council scheme, and said: “As long as their campaign works, I don’t mind who does it or how they do it.

“We are working very closely with them.”
Others found it difficult to release staff for the training, or were concerned about the commitment of time and resources.

Joan Morters, headteacher at Wheatley Primary School, said the school had already booked an external provider, the Literacy Tree, to train staff, teaching assistants and teachers in guided reading.

She said: “We had already booked all that before I had even heard about it.
“The initiative came too late and we had already decided what we were going to do this year.”

The ones that have signed up

  • All Saints Church of England (Aided) Primary School, Didcot
  • Bampton Church of England Primary School
  • Barley Hill Primary, Thame
  • Benson CofE Primary School
  • Botley Primary School, Oxford
  • Brookside Primary School, Bicester
  • Bure Park Primary School, Bicester
  • Caldecott Primary School, Abingdon
  • Carterton Primary School
  • Chalgrove Community Primary School
  • Church Cowley St James School
  • Cutteslowe Primary School, Oxfod
  • Drayton Community Primary School
  • Dry Sandford Primary School
  • Edward Feild Primary School, Kidlington
  • Faringdon Infant School
  • Gateway Primary School, Carterton
  • Glory Farm Primary School, Bicester
  • Great Milton Church of England Primary School
  • Harwell Community Primary School
  • Hill View Primary School, Banbury
  • John Hampden Primary School, Thame
  • Long Wittenham Church of England Primary School
  • Madley Brook Community Primary School, Witney
  • Millbrook Primary School, Grove
  • New Marston Primary School, Oxford
  • Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Primary School, Witney
  • Queen’s Dyke Community Primary School, Witney
  • St Christopher’s Church of England Primary School, Cowley
  • St Ebbe’s Church of England Primary School, Oxford
  • St John The Evangelist Church of England Primary School, Carterton
  • St John’s Primary School, Wallingford
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Carterton
  • St Leonard’s Church of England Primary School, Banbury
  • St Nicholas’ Primary School, Marston
  • Stanford in the Vale Church of England Primary School
  • Stephen Freeman Community School, Didcot
  • Stockham Primary School
  • Stonesfield Primary School
  • West Kidlington Primary School
  • West Oxford Community Primary School
  • Windmill Primary School, Headington
  • Wroxton CEd Primary School
  • St Amand’s Primary School, East Hendred, and St Peter’s Primary School, Cassington, both signed up despite not being on the original target list and have paid for the training. If they are deemed to be among those in the second wave with the most need, or if fewer than 60 new schools sign up, their fees will be reimbursed.
  • Our Lady’s Primary School, Cowley, has signed up to take part in the second wave

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