Holmer Lake Primary School implemented Cornerstones Love to Read in September 2015, following the introduction of the Cornerstones Curriculum earlier in the year. A trial in Year 6 proved to be so successful that Love to Read was subsequently rolled out across Key Stage 2. Here’s how Love to Read helped to improve reading at Holmer Lake.
A reading focus for the school
Headteacher Siân Deane and the Key Stage 2 and English leader, Craig Wilkinson, were keen to focus on the improvement of reading. They decided that implementing Love to Read was the best way to ensure children were exposed to a range of high-quality texts. Craig explains in the video above:
‘One of the initial drivers for taking on Love to Read was this notion that pupils would have read 24 classic novels by the time they’ve finished Key Stage 2. We both felt strongly about it – what a fantastic situation they would be in’.
For Siân, the fact that the school had recently implemented the Cornerstones Curriculum made it an easy decision:
‘Love to Read supplements and complements the Cornerstones Curriculum – they go hand-in-hand. It gives us a clear focus and, for me, it’s very obvious that pupils are able to make clear links between what they are reading and the curriculum as a whole’.
Trialling Love to Read
Before implementing Love to Read across Key Stage 2, the school decided to trial it for a term in Year 6. They conducted lesson observations and pupil voice activities, a process that led to faster progress being made when Love to Read was launched. Siân had a very clear idea on how they would manage the launch:
‘I agreed that we would employ the same strategies we had during the pilot phase, sharing the good practice that Craig had developed, giving feedback, then revisiting those classes. The progress was much swifter as we had a clear vision’.
Impact on Teaching
Love to Read has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the teaching of reading at Holmer Lake.
Sean Pardy, a Year 3/4 teacher, has found that Love to Read encourages him to adopt different teaching strategies:
‘Every day, we do the reading in a different way. I’ll pull names from the pot, we’ll do paired reading or we’ll go around the tables and everyone will take a turn. Occasionally, we’ll do a silent read as well. The children are learning that there are many different ways you can approach the book’.
Love to Read also enables teachers to immerse their class in the text, adding to their overall experience of reading. Sean explains:
‘Whilst reading the chapter ‘Riddles in the Dark’ from The Hobbit, I put an image of Gollum’s cave up on the interactive whiteboard, then turned the classroom lights off, so whenever pupils glanced up from their book, their eyes were drawn to the image. Things like that make it more of an experience for them’.
Teachers have also saved time planning for reading sessions, and have been able to incorporate their own ideas and differentiation, as Craig explains:
‘In terms of the impact on teachers’ own strategies, or their own delivery of it, the Love to Read guide forms a scaffold onto which teachers can hook their own tailoring to their class. It gives teachers a very quick overview of the text and the language features’.
Impact on engagement
The impact on pupil engagement has been one of the most notable results of implementing Love to Read. Many pupils are now far more eager to read their books and contribute to class discussions – a view reinforced by the positive feedback Craig has received from pupils:
‘When we conducted pupil voice work, a lot of the comments we had from our pupils were about how Love to Read makes them want to come to school so they don’t miss out on any of the book. They see it as a very social thing, and they really cherish the reading they do every morning’.
This increased engagement has seen more and more pupils reading outside school. Pupils now regularly read a full chapter at home every night, which teachers attribute to their daily half-hour reading sessions with Love to Read.
Rising to the challenge
Craig also asserts that pupils are exceeding expectations in other ways:
‘We were conscious at first that, in some classes, the Love to Read texts would be too challenging, but our pupils have really risen to the challenge. They aren’t put off by the complexity of the language – in fact, they’ve responded really well to it. I think sometimes, as practitioners, we underestimate the potential, and the capacity, of our pupils’.
The majority of pupils are increasingly willing to join in with class discussions, which has boosted their confidence and removed their reluctance to read, something Craig is very proud of:
‘Pupils have broken down their own barriers to reading. They no longer see themselves as not being able access high-quality literature so it’s had an impact on their independent reading. It’s also galvanised their enjoyment of reading, which was a key focus of our school development plan’.
Looking to the future
Staff are thrilled with the impact Love to Read has had in the school. According to Craig:
‘Reading is a strength within the school when we look at our whole school data. We can pinpoint particular children who have made accelerated progress as a result of their engagement’.
Siân agrees that the progress being made by pupils now will serve them well in the future:
‘Pupils now talk about having the confidence to read aloud. If they’re going to be asked to present something, or if they’re going to be part of a debating society, they’ll be far more confident as individuals in the future as a result of that’.
About Holmer Lake Primary
Holmer Lake Primary School, located in the southeastern side of Telford, has 264 pupils on roll, 50 percent of whom are entitled to free school meals.
The school has achieved the Basic Skills Quality Mark, Primary Science Quality Mark and the West Midlands Safeguarding Award, and has been commended by the Children’s Commissioner for outstanding practice in anti-bullying work.
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