Tag archives: reading attainment

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Children’s reading news – a summer update

reading mugs
Another round-up of recent reading news and articles, illustrated by my lovely reading related mugs, all given to me by my equally reading besotted daughter.

An important new study on teaching reading through synthetic phonics has found that this helps children from poor backgrounds and EAL children, but has no long-term benefits for the average child.

More new research tells us that boys who live with books earn more as adults.

Since my last blog on reading the National Literacy Trust has published its annual report on children and young people’s reading.  Reading enjoyment is going up, but the gulf between enjoyment at primary and secondary levels is sadly growing, as is that between boys and girls. In his foreword Director Jonathan Douglas points out the clear correlation between attainment and reading enjoyment, frequency and attitudes. ‘The more that can be done to develop and sustain children’s intrinsic motivation to read throughout their school journey, the more success they will enjoy both academically and in future life.’

Author Nicola Morgan has created a list of the benefits of reading for pleasure.

If you can’t imagine things, how can you learn? is fascinating. Significant numbers of people cannot conjure up mental images, and this impacts, among other things, on their ability to learn to read, on comprehension, on retaining and recalling information and on grasping abstract concepts.

A report about the age at which children start formal education identifies some key issues in relation to literacy. New Zealand research shows that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. ‘By 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later.’ A separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

It’s worth reading a head of English on the importance of schools making time for reading. ‘Schools being all about education, you’d think reading would be at the centre of the curriculum and school life. Wrong’ says Dr Kornel Kossuth.

Those interested in literacy across the curriculum may be interested in this article on literacy’s role in boosting maths outcomes.

It’s always good to hear young people’s perspectives on reading. I found Why teenagers are resistant to e-readers extremely interesting.

That article, along with many I’ve quoted in blogs about children reading, was published on the Guardian children’s books website. It’s always been a source of invaluable information and inspiration. Sad news indeed that it’s closing.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Literacy and gender – research, articles and training

msoD229AI was very struck by an article about gender stereotypes in the TES last week (not yet online). Five year-old children’s stories reveal considerable gender differences, and show that gender stereotypes are already ingrained by this age, with children believing that boys should be strong and brave, and that girls are more concerned with family and love. Boys are much readier than girls to see themselves as heroes of their stories.

Gender differences in literacy have been the subject of debate and soul-searching for decades. I have given training on children’s reading for twenty years now, and there has been no time in that period when I have not been asked for courses on boys and reading.

Latest available figures from the National Literacy Trust show significant gaps in reading and writing attainment and reading enjoyment between boys and girls. We know from Sutton Trust research that boys from disadvantaged backgrounds fare particularly badly.

I was fascinated to find out from the recent OECD report on gender equality in education, that while there is a gender gap in literacy in school years in all OECD countries, among 16-25 year-olds the difference all but disappears, suggesting that as boys mature and become young men they acquire some of the reading skills they hadn’t acquired at school through work and life experience. The report also discloses considerable unconscious gender bias in teachers’ marking. Girls are often given higher marks, even when their performance is similar.

I very much agree with children’s author Jon Scieska’s assertion that ‘one of the best things we can do to help boys is to expand the definition of reading.’ Boys often read more than they are given credit for. I love the photo here of a family member engrossed in his reading.

Boys can be chatterboxes too! explores ways to make sure boys are given appropriate language support in the early years. All activities can be language activities, the blog points out.

I started with the TES article. I can’t resist finishing with this story by a five year-old boy quoted in it. ‘Once there was an army man that was very brave until he became old, and he lived to be 33.’ Wonderful!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Reading in the new national curriculum for England, and other reading news

I blogged about reading only last week, but important new information has since emerged.

I’ve been looking at the language and literacy and English sections of the revised national curriculum in England framework document. It’s good to see the status given to spoken language (a glaring omission in the draft). Reading for pleasure thankfully remains a high priority. I am delighted that schools are told they should provide library facilities, and do everything to promote wider reading. Literacy is viewed as an integral part of all subject teaching, as it should be. The emphasis on comprehension is welcome, and the stress on sharing a wide range of books. The benefits of reading aloud throughout KS1 and 2 are rightly highlighted, with several references to reading whole books rather than extracts. I’m pleased that year 2 and lower KS2 pupils should have opportunities to exercise choice in selecting books and be taught how to do so, though I think this should start earlier, and continue later. The extremely prescriptive requirements relating to phonics, spelling and grammar are a much bigger concern. I also fear that the stipulation that two Shakespeare plays and pre-1914 literature are studied at KS3 may jeopardise the reading enjoyment goals in some schools. (There is also little space for studying post 1918 literature in the KS4 English programme of study.)

Today has seen the publication of disturbing research by the Sutton Trust about gaps in reading attainment in England and Scotland. The brightest boys from poor homes are two and half years or more behind those from wealthier homes in reading. For clever girls, the gap is little better. These are the worst figures among OECD countries. In general, the poorest teenagers in England lag two years and four months behind their richest classmates in reading.

This week we have also learnt the impact of irregular bedtimes on reading. At 7, lack of regular bedtimes is related to lower reading scores in girls, though not boys. Non-regular bedtimes at 3 are associated with lower scores in girls and boys. Girls who have never had regular bedtimes at 3, 5 and 7 have significantly lower scores, as do boys with non-regular bedtimes at any two ages (3, 5 or 7).

No absence of reading skills or enjoyment with these girls I met at Chadwell Primary School.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today

The National Literacy Trust has published its annual report Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today. Many of the findings are depressing.

  • Only 3 young people in 10 now read daily in their own time, down from 4 in 10 in 2005.
  • Over a fifth rarely or never read in their own time.
  • More than a quarter only read when they have to.
  • 17% would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading.
  • Reading across all formats has gone down since 2005.
  • Boys remain significantly less keen on reading than girls.
  • Only a third of KS4 students enjoy reading, compared with nearly three quarters of KS2 pupils.

There is a clear link between reading outside of class and achievement. Young people who read outside of class daily are thirteen times more likely to read above the expected level for their age. Conversely, young people who do not enjoy reading at all are nearly ten times as likely to be reading below the expected level for their age than young people who enjoy reading very much.

This report highlights yet again the importance of reading promotion.