Reading campaign: More schools to look into joining

County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley with Buckland Primary School pupils, from left, James Coombs, 10, Joseph Langdon, nine, Abby Hallion-Gammon, 10, and Daisy Torrington, 10

County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley with Buckland Primary School pupils, from left, James Coombs, 10, Joseph Langdon, nine, Abby Hallion-Gammon, 10, and Daisy Torrington, 10

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CHILDREN at every Oxfordshire primary school now have the chance to benefit from the county’s flagship reading campaign.

Four months ago the £585,000 scheme to drive up reading standards was launched by Oxfordshire County Council, backed by the Oxford Mail and run by the National Literacy Trust.

Initially 81 schools, selected based on results over the past three years, were asked to join and some are already seeing improvements.

Now, because there is spare money in the pot, the campaign is being opened up to every other primary.

Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “We had the money aside for 81 schools and we thought that as we had the money put aside, why not improve reading elsewhere?

“I really would like to spread it because it is proving really good.”

She urged schools to sign up and added: “If you are in the slightest doubt, contact some of the ones that have been using the scheme already and have found a difference in a matter of weeks.”

There is capacity for up to 60 more schools to take part in the scheme within the existing budget.

The programme involves a combination of reading interventions using a scheme of books called Project X Code, led by trained teaching assistants, and extra practice in reading with volunteers.

If more than 60 schools want to join, those with the largest number of pupils who would benefit would get priority.

Schools are being invited to a headteachers’ conference on Monday, February 25, at Unipart Conference Centre, Cowley. Training for teaching assistants would start soon after and the schools would be in a position to start work with children in April.

Reading campaign programme manager Wendy Tyrrell said: “The schools that are taking part currently are already reporting significant improvements with the young people who are on the intervention, so we wanted to make that as widely available as we can.”

Longworth Primary School and Cropredy Primary School are both planning to attend the conference.

Heather Brook, Key Stage 1 leader and literacy co-ordinator at Cropredy, said: “I have been looking through all the information and have seen lots of positive testimonies.

“We want to find out if this is something that could help us as a school.”

Louise Siddle, teacher and literacy co-ordinator at Longworth, said: “This year we have got a year of reading in Longworth and I am trying to raise the profile of reading and encourage reading for pleasure.

“I think it would be a great idea to keep that going and have something else to be involved in.”

Get Oxfordshire reading

Schools taking part are providing quarterly reports to Edge Hill University, which is feeding the information back to Oxfordshire County Council.

As schools are starting the programme at different times, the information will be filtered back gradually, then by the end of the summer it will be analysed by the National Literacy Trust.

Baseline readings have been taken for children taking part, indicating their reading age in years and months, and these will be measured again at the end of the scheme.

Key Stage 1 results data will also give an indication as to how much impact the scheme has had on the county’s performance in teacher assessments at age seven.

  • This is the last opportunity for schools to sign up, and they can book places on the conference by emailing Sam Pope on sam.pope@literacytrust.org.uk or fax her on 020 75871411
  • Since the Reading Campaign was launched four months ago, 101 people have signed up to volunteer through the Oxford Mail. These have been whittled down to 40 people waiting to help children read. When the National Literacy Trust knows how many schools want to be involved in the next phase, it will launch another call for volunteers.
  • For more information about volunteering, visit oxfordshirereading.co.uk

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