Tag archives: Ofsted

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My final reading round-up of 2013

I’m busy planning inset days on reading for early January, and have been looking in depth at the new curriculum for England. I’m certainly not a fan of everything in it, but I definitely like the emphasis on reading for enjoyment and on reading across the curriculum. (It’s no coincidence that I’ve had two literacy-related enquiries from maths teachers in the last couple of weeks – great to hear of maths departments taking support for reading so seriously.) I am relieved that comprehension is given equal weighting to word reading – just this morning a literacy coordinator told me of year 6 pupils who can decode without problems, but simply don’t get the meaning. It’s good that teachers are strongly urged to read whole books to children, and that promoting wider reading is heavily stressed. This surprisingly poetic sentence especially pleases me: ‘Reading feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.’ UKLA has produced a very useful review and planning tool for the new curriculum for English.

Ofsted’s 2012/13 Schools Annual Report states that pupils don’t receive enough encouragement to read widely for pleasure, and that time needs to be made for the reading, sharing, recommending and discussion of texts. This is a particularly interesting statement, coming from Ofsted: ‘Schools can be distracted by national tests and examinations, which do not always assess pupils’ wider reading skills well.’ Ofsted also says older students need to see the practical benefits of reading, as something that affects their daily lives.

Lots of ideas for on reading promotion in this Guardian article.

The Kids Lit Quiz is a lovely way to build up excitement around reading. I felt very lucky to attend the UK final two weeks ago. My picture doesn’t adequately show the buzz in the room.

Great to see an article about DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), an excellent scheme, though I certainly disagree with the authors’ assertion that good school libraries are not a necessity.

I’m sure all readers of my blog are fully aware of the crucial importance of school librarians for reading promotion and lots more. Author Linda Strachan here makes a passionate case for them in response to Edinburgh Council’s discussions on cutting the number.

I enjoyed reading about this bedtime reading event.

Beanstalk volunteers work wonders with children’s reading. Crucially, they give lots of choice of reading materials. A volunteer at a workshop I gave this week told us about the dramatic change the Minecraft Annual made to one boy’s attitudes to reading.

This is an interesting piece by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick on graphic novels: why and how to read them and where to start.

Finally, Michael Morpurgo is the new president of Booktrust.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Ofsted and literacy

Literacy is featuring extremely highly in Ofsted inspections and reports now, with inspectors showing particular interest in reading across the curriculum and reading enjoyment. These are both issues that have been highlighted in a number of Ofsted publications over the last couple of years, in particular Moving English Forward, Reading, Writing and Communication (Literacy) and Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools: A Shared Responsibility.

I have recently checked out Ofsted’s grade descriptors in relation to literacy, to be found under various headings in the School Inspection Handbook. They are very interesting. Not all school staff are aware for example that a school is likely to be judged inadequate if inspectors judge pupils’ progress in literacy to be inadequate. Conversely, these are some of the grade descriptors for outstanding:

  • There is excellent practice which ensures that all pupils have high levels of literacy appropriate to their age. (Pupils whose cognitive ability is such that their literacy skills are likely to be limited make excellent progress appropriate to their age and capabilities.)
  • Pupils make rapid and sustained progress throughout year groups across many subjects, including English, and learn exceptionally well.
  • Pupils read widely and often across all subjects.
  • Pupils develop and apply a wide range of skills to great effect in reading, writing, communication.
  • The teaching of reading, writing, communication is highly effective and cohesively planned and implemented across the curriculum.
  • There are excellent policies which ensure that pupils have high levels of literacy, or pupils are making excellent progress in literacy.

Food for thought here for school leaders, teachers and librarians.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Policy and planning for the school library

Great to see Alan Gibbons’ Guardian article on school libraries. Good school libraries are the product of good policy and planning, and I was delighted to give training on this for Hillingdon Schools Library Service this week. There were excellent discussions about the aims of school libraries, and how to make sure they’re met through effective policy, planning and practice.

We explored the impact on library policy of Ofsted’s priorities, as set out in the Framework for Inspection, the School Inspection Handbook and Moving English Forward, particularly the emphasis on reading for enjoyment and literacy across the curriculum.

I’m always concerned when schools have no library policy or development plan. A policy document clarifies the role and aims of the library, helping the whole school community understand how it supports teaching and learning and aids attainment, while a plan identifies the actions required to accomplish the aims. The School Library Association has useful publications on policy and planning, one for primary schools, and one for secondary.

We talked on the course about what constitutes evidence of effectiveness. Quantitative measures (e.g. issue and usage figures) are needed, and qualitative ones too (e.g. the library’s contribution to promoting wider reading and developing students’ independent learning). Examples of work done by students using library resources are good evidence. Photographs and videos are very powerful.

Michael Rosen tells us the school library should be an ‘unmissable, unavoidable place’. In Gillian Cross’s view: ‘Anyone who has grasped the implications of independent learning will understand that the library is at the heart of the school.’ Ofsted says in Reading, Writing and Communication (Literacy): ‘Around the school, an attractive and well-stocked library is often an indicator of effective support for pupils’ wider reading and information retrieval skills.’ Yes to all of these. And yes to that inspirational educational thinker Stephen Heppell who believes that school libraries are more important now than ever, as ‘places where everyone can come together and learn’. The photo shows that happening in a great library lesson at Mayflower High School, where I enjoyed giving inset recently.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Reading for pleasure

I could not resist sharing this photo of two teenagers enjoying a picture book together.

Encouraging reading for pleasure is the focus of lots of my training, and a good deal of my voluntary activity, so I was delighted to read this erudite and impassioned plea by Graham Maslen, headteacher of North Halifax Grammar School. It contains an extremely useful round-up of research on the subject.

It is heartening that the latest guidance for Ofsted inspectors on reading, writing and communication makes a number of references to the importance of reading for pleasure. I blogged a few months ago about the DfE website guidance on fostering reading enjoyment.

Michael Rosen’s Reading Revolution website has some excellent ideas for creating a reading school. For some practical tips, take a look at his 20 point plan. It is well worth keeping an eye on Rosen’s blog too.

Both school and public libraries of course play a huge role in fostering reading enjoyment. For anyone who has not seen it, this is a recent article of mine on the role of libraries in encouraging reading enjoyment among teenagers.