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Success stories

Reading Passport gets the stamp of approval from students

31 Jul 2012

Bishop David Brown School is a small secondary comprehensive in Sheerwater, a deprived area of Woking in Surrey. A high proportion of their students have English as an additional language, with parents who speak little or no English at all, and many of their students are joining the school in Year 7 with reading ages well below the national average.

Bishop David Brown are always looking for creative new ideas to promote reading amongst their pupils and so decided to give the Big Diamond Jubilee Read a go. The joined-up whole school approach that they took to running the competition ensured that it was a storming success. Study Centre Manager Lucy Davis explains…

passport“We launched the Big Diamond Jubilee Read in a whole-school assembly with shots of the map and passports up on a big screen. We made sure students knew that it wasn’t compulsory, as we wanted to keep the fun factor of the competition. We gave out the reading passports at the end of assembly and once a few of the students took one, everyone was clamouring to get involved.

All staff across the school knew about the competition and they were encouraged to use any spare time they had in lessons to allow students to get in another 10 minutes of reading. I’ve never seen a project embraced so fully by staff as the Big Diamond Jubilee Read - students were reading everywhere, from Geography lessons to Maths lessons to tutor time, and of course in the library.

We’ve seen a marked impact across the whole school as a result of the Big Diamond Jubilee Read. For me personally as a study centre manager, the Big Diamond Jubilee Read has provided an excellent platform with which to engage staff across the board, and I think a whole-school approach is such an important factor in the success of any initiative.

The competition has got the school buzzing about reading. It has given a boost to our already confident readers, but more than this it has given many of our reluctant readers the push they needed to get stuck in. The fact that each block of reading was only 10 minutes really helped with this as it made the task of reading at home seem much more manageable.

We’ve seen a particular impact within our literacy intervention groups, in which we do guided reading. The students in these groups already use reading logs that are sent home to be signed by parents, and so the reading passport was a format that they understood. The competition has been embraced wholeheartedly by the students in these groups and their parents, with fantastic results. Here are a couple of examples..."

Student One: Year 9 male

The student was not a keen reader, he doesn't have a male role model at home or any adults who 'Read for Pleasure'' within the home. The student has a reading age which is significantly lower than what is expected for his age.

How the competition turned things around for this student:
He was initially reluctant to participate in the competition, and kept telling us that he ''hated reading'' and ''didn't see the point in reading''. The student soon changed his opinion of the Reading Passport, as we made sure to carefully help him with his book choice selection and made sure that we signed his Reading Passport every time he managed to stay focused and read for 10 minutes.

We soon found that the student was becoming more focused during the lessons and would remain on task (i.e. reading) for much longer periods of time, and noticed that he had his Reading Passport to hand in every lesson – this is a student who normally struggles to organise his school belongings and regularly loses items in school! The student was clearly motivated to read and proud of his Reading Passport and soon began to show us his Reading Log which had been signed by his mum, every time the student had read to her at home. This was a big achievement for this student.

The Big Diamond Jubilee Read:

  1. Allowed this student to achieve his reading targets in 10 minute manageable ''chunks''.
  2. Allowed this student to participate fully in his literacy intervention group with good behaviour, as he felt more confident with his reading achievements.
  3. Encouraged this student to share his reading with his mum for the first time, thus inviting more positive feedback from home and school.
  4. Created a more confident reader who now recognises that reading can be fun.

Student Two: Year 9 female

The student was an infrequent reader who didn't understand the importance of becoming a confident reader. She is an EAL student, her parents do not speak English and she does not have any adults at home who read for pleasure. She has a reading age which is significantly lower than expected for her age.

How the competition turned things around for this student:
The student was very excited to join the reading scheme and loved the opportunity to read independently and gain instant positive feedback from staff and parents at home via the signatures on her Reading Passport. She embraced the reading scheme from day one and would greet us at the beginning of every lesson excitedly waving her Reading Passport, and Reading Log.

We encouraged the group of students to read at home as often as possible explaining the importance of reading to adults within the home. The student had initial reservations about reading to her parents at home, as neither of them speak English. We reassured her that her parents would welcome the opportunity to hear her read and would be proud as to how much more confident and fluent her reading was becoming. Over the next couple of weeks the student began to read at home and proudly told us about how she'd been teaching her mum new words, and how much her and her mum had enjoyed this new experience. This was a significant ''turning point'' for this student.

The Big Diamond Jubilee Read:

  1. Allowed this student to share her reading with her mum for the first time and in turn feel proud at being able to teach her mum new words in English.
  2. Taught this student that reading within the home can be fun.
  3. Encouraged this student to enjoy reading, she has progressed onto more challenging books and is now rarely seen in school without a book in her hand!


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