Reading pledge ensures no barriers to success

A GOOD READ James Riley-Langley.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120317-1)
A GOOD READ James Riley-Langley. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120317-1)

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A SIMPLE pledge from teachers, pupils and parents to read every single day has revolutionised literacy at Portsdown Primary.

It is now anticipating a 100 per cent success rate for expected reading levels this year when 11-year-olds sit their Key Stage Two exams (Sats).

It is an extraordinary achievement considering 41 per cent of pupils are on free school meals – more than twice the national average – and two years ago just 69 per cent of school leavers gained expected standards in English.

But it comes as no surprise to head Irene Baldry who had an early taste of success with a 10-week pilot in 2010.

In that time, individual reading ages shot up by almost three years and between 22 and 44 per cent of any year group improved by more than a year.

Mrs Baldry said: ‘It’s such a simple concept but it works because we are all passionate about it and live it every single day.

‘The key is that the pledge gives everyone ownership of it – especially the children, who will hold us all to account if we don’t fulfil our part of the bargain!’

Ellis McDowall, seven, who is reading books for 11-year-olds, says the pledge has transformed his attitude to reading.

He said: ‘I never used to read at home but I signed the pledge because I wanted to get better at reading and I love it now.

‘The more I read, the faster I get at it, and the more I enjoy it.

‘When I was reading Doctor Who I was just flicking through the pages – I think my mum was surprised.’

James Riley-Langley, eight, whose reading improved two years and eight months in eight weeks, said: ‘Reading is more important than staring at a TV. I read at least three times a day now.

‘I love the Stormbreaker series by Ali Sparkes.

‘If you’re a good reader you have more options in life.

‘It also gives you a better imagination for writing your own stories.’

Mrs Baldry insists reading is the key to accessing all areas of the curriculum.

‘Even if you can’t write you can read all the texts for history, geography and science,’ she said.

‘You don’t have to be going on a lot of trips if you read – you can be engrossed in a book that takes you anywhere in the world.

‘We’re determined that all our children will achieve in reading so there are no barriers for them to succeed.’