Quality of teaching main determinant of a child's ability to read

Published by Will Dodds on September 10th 2021, 2:02pm

A new government policy paper focused on reading has determined that the quality of teaching is the main factor in a child's ability to learn to read.

Published in July this year, the paper was titled "The reading framework: teaching the foundations of literacy" and investigated what it was that most impacted the ability of young people to learn to read.

With guidance for teachers, school leaders, reading and literacy leads, governing bodies, and initial teacher training providers, it focuses on the early stages of teaching reading and the contribution of talk, stories and systematic synthetic phonics.

It also supports primary school leaders in evaluating their teaching of early reading and best practice for improving early reading, especially in reception and year 1, and older pupils who have not yet mastered the foundations of reading.

"All educators have a fundamental role in ensuring all children learn to read, including headteachers and ITT partnerships," it read.

"Extensive experience in early literacy indicates that, if children are taught well, their backgrounds, ethnicity, level of disadvantage, their disabilities and other variables, such as being a boy or summer born, should rarely prevent their learning to read."

Headteacher at Westcourt Primary School Mags Sexton told The Parliamentary Review that by increasing the focus on reading at school, she saw results in other subjects improve.

"When I took over the school, our Key Stage 2 results did not reflect the ability of our pupils," she wrote.

"Through engaging with a range of initiatives we have been able to improve the teaching we offer and the education of our children. First, the deputy head redesigned the English curriculum with a focus on the power of reading. Through implementing a range of reading strategies, we immediately saw the impact on our children’s use of language. The introduction of language walls allowed our staff to introduce words that were new to the children, ensuring that they were challenged and encouraged in equal measure."

This approach has since evolved with the integration of high-quality texts, Sexton explained.

"Through using high-quality texts, our pupils were able to write more and were encouraged to read different books themselves," she said.

"Encouraging reading throughout the school saw an increase in the number of books our children engaged with, in addition to their complexity."

Meanwhile, Grove Road Primary headteacher Lyn Gray explained that a survey revealed to her that more reading needed to be done in school due to the lack of resources many children had at home.

"Reading has been an important focus since a survey we ran in 2017 revealed that many families lack reading resources at home," she wrote in The Parliamentary Review.

"We installed a new library and created weekly story time with staff to support bedtime or shared reading experiences at home. We have recently opened the library up to the community and have recycled fiction books in order that parents too can borrow something to read at home. Book Talk by Jane Considine was introduced to all classes in 2016 and is the only reading method practised in school to date. The method of teaching reading incorporates comprehension and vocabulary acquisition from early years and builds on these skills every year. Children achieve a new enjoyment of reading as well as a better analytical mind when discussing or dissecting texts."

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Authored By

Will Dodds
Senior Journalist
September 10th 2021, 2:02pm

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