Portsmouth pupils told to drop everything and get reading

BREAK-TIME From left, Tom Cawt, Ashley Thompson and Oscar Cherry take time out during a  science lesson to catch up on reading.  (120798-4)
BREAK-TIME From left, Tom Cawt, Ashley Thompson and Oscar Cherry take time out during a science lesson to catch up on reading. (120798-4)
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LESSONS stop every day for 20 minutes when students at a Portsmouth secondary ‘drop everything’ to get lost in the world of literature.

A scheme called Drop Everything And Read (Dear) at Miltoncross has proved so effective even the most reluctant readers are devouring books and school library loans are up by at least a third.

The scheme, which was introduced for 400 Year 7 and 8 students in October, works by scheduling a simultaneous 20-minute read every day, at the start of any lesson.

And it’s already having a dramatic impact in the classroom as teachers report better behaviour and higher levels of concentration.

Science teacher Helen Tucker is so impressed she has bought books to boost her classroom selection.

She said: ‘The more material they have to choose from the better.

‘In science there’s lots of complicated language so reading is vital.’

Student reaction to Dear is overwhelmingly positive.

Gemma Newmarch, 13, said: ‘I’m reading more than ever before, and I’ve noticed students who had a negative attitude to books are realising they can be fun.’

Harrison Tupper, 11, added: ‘Since I started reading in lessons I discovered books I enjoyed which I take home with me – I never did that before.’

Unlike primary schools, secondaries do not have dedicated reading sessions and head Niel McLeod admits it is easy to lose the momentum.

He said: ‘If you don’t in the early secondary years continue to foster that enjoyment of books that primaries have worked hard to promote, many children will stop reading.’

Emily Dickety, librarian, wants to roll out the scheme across the whole school, which has signed up to our literacy campaign Read All About It.

She said: ‘What’s wonderful is that for those 20 minutes every day the school is so quiet you can hear a pin drop.’