Reading campaign boosting older students’ exam results

The Oxford Times: Jon Gray, head of Cutteslowe Primary School. Jon Gray, head of Cutteslowe Primary School.

A READING campaign for young pupils has had a knock-on effect on exam results for older primary school students, headteachers said yesterday.

The Oxford Mail-backed campaign, which was set up last year, aims to improve literacy levels among Key Stage 1 students.

But revised figures have revealed that 78 per cent of pupils are achieving the benchmark of reaching at least level four in reading, writing and maths.

And headteachers and an education official say the reading campaign has helped older pupils – even though it was not aimed directly at them.

Smaller schools led the way in getting top results, with village schools in Little Milton, Combe, Clanfield and Longworth just some of the schools achieving a 100 per cent rate of children getting level four and above.

Jon Gray, headteacher at Cutteslowe Primary School where 62 per cent of students made the benchmark, said: “We have still got work to do around writing but we are doing very well in reading.

“We are seeing already that through the reading campaign writing is improving and, as we know, reading follows writing. We are finding reading results across the whole school go up.”

The primary is involved in the reading campaign, which sees seven-year-olds work with books in small groups alongside a trained teaching assistant. They also read one-to-one with volunteers.

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Teachers said yesterday that the campaign is having a broader impact on the culture of schools.

Windmill Primary headteacher Lynn Knapp – whose school is also involved in the campaign – believes it will take a few more years for the benefit of the reading campaign to be fully realised.

The school had 72 per cent of its year six students achieve level four and above.

She said: “We had a drop in writing, but we felt progress was really good.

“The reading campaign is aimed at year two but I think the impact it has had on reading throughout the school has really shown.

“Vocabulary is improving. But it will be in the coming years that the success of the reading campaign is really shown, as those children in the lower years make their way up the school.”

In Oxfordshire, 78 per cent of pupils are achieving the benchmark of reaching at least level four in reading, writing and maths – three per cent higher than the national average.

And the county has improved on last year, where 77 per cent of year six pupils were reaching the Government benchmark.

These revised county figures are one per cent higher than earlier believed.

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for education at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I really do think this is a result of the reading campaign. Although it wasn’t Key Stage 2 – it was Key Stage 1 – I think it has had a knock-on effect.

“It’s given schools a culture of reading and I am sure that has helped. I hope that it continues to help.”

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