Our ‘Year of Reading’ starts in earnest.
This year (2023-2024) The Corinium Education Trust is working closely with a wider group of schools in the South Cotswolds to promote reading. This collaborative Year of Reading project, ably steered by Rachael Scott, our School Improvement Lead (Primary), involves other partners and aims to ensure all pupils can read at least in line with their chronological age and do so for pleasure too!
‘This is just the beginning! As all teachers know, we learn best from the successful practice of others. Taking part in a project which enables local schools to ‘magpie’ teaching strategies, share effective practice and foster a love of Reading is a privilege. Throughout the year children will be inspired by authors, share their favourite literature and celebrate reading. Meanwhile, their teachers will be working on action research projects. These will be evaluated and the impact shared to further develop the teaching of reading in future years.’ Rachael Scott, School Improvement Lead (Primary).
Following the soft launch of our local ‘Year of Reading’ which was generously hosted by The Barn Theatre in May 2023, we have secured additional funding to support this critical initiative. This will help primary and secondary school teachers encourage and support reluctant and disadvantaged readers, which, in turn, will help them access the wider curriculum and fulfil richer lives.
‘It has been an absolute pleasure to see this project develop from an initial idea inspired by Roy Blatchford at our local conference in November 2022 to the rich and diverse programme of engaging reading activities that are being trialled and pioneered across a wide group of schools this academic year. The professionalism and commitment of the teachers and school leaders involved is highly commendable and I am confident that their enthusiasm and practice will draw in even the most reluctant readers.’ Chiquita Henson, Trust Lead (CEO), The Corinium Education Trust.
In July, we were delighted to learn that our bid for support from Gloucestershire County Council’s ‘Levelling Up Disadvantage’ fund was successful. This financial resource will ensure participating schools have the capacity to engage in and evaluate the impact of their reading-focused action research. This will help us to identify and apply strong and effective practice and strengthen outcomes in reading across all schools. Schools involved in the project have each taken a different aspect of teaching reading and to help us measure the impact of our work together over the course of the year, we are using common assessments. These will identify pupils’ starting points and record their progress.
Reading is a core part of any school’s curriculum and is an important life skill. However, we want to ensure all children become life-long readers for pleasure. We aim to enrich their experience of reading and to provide encouragement and inspiration by introducing them to a rich and diverse range of books and some familiar and much-loved authors. This takes us beyond the scope of our current school budgets as education funding is extremely tight and headteachers and their teams are, therefore, necessarily focused on the core essentials.
To further aid engagement in this critical reading project and to enable our most disadvantaged pupils to take part in enrichment activities which will expand their horizons, we are immensely grateful to the trustees of The Winstone Charitable Trust for their significant contribution to the programme. This will enable pupils to take part in wider reading opportunities and enrichment activities, especially those who are least exposed to reading at home and have otherwise limited access to cultural events.
‘The Winstone Trust is pleased to provide the funding for this important initiative by The Corinium Education Trust to bring together schools in Cirencester and the South Cotswolds for this ‘Year of Reading’. This project will focus particularly on disadvantaged pupils and those children with the lowest reading assessments, but it is sad to see that in today’s world it requires private charitable funds to run such an important project. The Corinium Education Trust is to be congratulated in stepping up to this challenge.’ Dr Andrew Ives, Trustee, The Winstone Trust.
As a direct consequence of this additional funding, we are able to ensure that the least experienced readers across a wide group of schools in Cirencester and the South Cotswolds are being supported. Many are participating in ‘Reading Stars’ led by the team from Forest Green Rovers. They, and others, are also being given the opportunity to participate in events at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Stroud Book Festival, both in person and virtually.
Pupils at Down Ampney C of E Primary School are enjoying ‘Reading Stars’:
‘We have learnt about skimming and scanning as well as a discussion about the purposes to read.’ ‘We have chatted about which books we enjoy reading and why.’ 'Other things that we have discussed include why sometimes when we read aloud it can seem muddled in our head.’ ‘The men who run our sessions are very kind and listen to our opinions and give us all a chance to speak.’ ‘We have some activities to do between the sessions and we really like doing these as it gives us something to talk about at the start of the next session.’