The result? Their SATs pass rate in Reading went from 60% to 93% in just one year. Folkestone PrimaryAcademy’s Acting Headteacher, Sarah Uden, explains how…
When the Folkestone Primary Academy opened in 2009, too few pupils were reading at the age related expectation. Over the years, we invested in reading resources and the pupils made good improvements. However, in 2016 when the new KS2 SATs Reading test commenced, we were very disappointed to achieve 60%. I was given a book called Reading Reconsidered written by Doug Lemov which prompted me to look further into how we were teaching our children to read. The book talked about ‘Lexiles’ and, upon further investigation, I found that Reading Plus gave an approximate Lexile Range as to where a pupil was reading at.
We started to map the Key Stage 2 children, understanding what their Lexile Range was. In Year 5, many children were working at a Lexile rate of 230-420 and gap analysis indicated that they needed to be higher than this. We then looked at the correlation of the children’s Lexile levels from Reading Plus with the results from previous SATs papers. That data gave us an insight into what level the children needed to reach to be reading at the expected standard.
For example, the data demonstrated that in order to be comfortably working at the new National Standard or above, children needed to get an old-fashioned ‘4A’ on an old SATs paper. From our analysis, we know that the children reading at a ‘4A’ minimum last year, were reading at a Lexile level of 950+, ideally 1000. To add further impact, we then tracked back through the year groups and have put milestones in place. This means that myself and our teachers know where pupils in Year 3, 4 and 5 need to be by the end of each academic year to be reading at their expected level for their age. This work has meant that we can really keep an eye on the progress of our KS2 children and are in a better position to identify and help those children that are struggling or falling behind.
We’ve used Reading Plus for a long time but now use it to far greater effect. Having made the Lexile analysis and correlation, we wanted to use the programme combined with other methods – specifically one-to-one reading with a teacher or TA.
We increased Reading Plus sessions in KS2 to three times a week and got teachers more involved – walking the room, looking over shoulders and really ensuring that the comprehension of each session they did was as good as it could be. We really bought into the concept that when it comes to Reading Plus, you really do have to be a cheerleader to get success. We also carried out frequent assessments and the teachers updated the spreadsheet with the Lexile levels termly. Anyone that hadn’t, at that point, moved forward were identified and given extra sessions or focus by the teacher.
In addition to the focused sessions we also created a Champion Board that was displayed prominently in school so that the children could see it when they came out of assembly. The teachers could nominate the ‘Stars’ of that week, whether they were someone that had got much higher percentages than before or had moved up a level etc. In addition, we also run inter-class Cupcake Challenges. This creates excitement and really encourages and motivates the children to want to do well. We even have children asking to do extra sessions and to go onto Reading Plus during wet play break times!
Our children hadn’t done any formal testing the year before as we had decided not to use the old SATs tests due to the new curriculum. We changed this so that the children get exposure to unseen texts. Every single time the children completed an old SATs paper, we put together a PowerPoint that demonstrated to the children why they had missed out on a mark, or why they got a question wrong.
Having had feedback from a marker of the new test, it was clear that they are extremely specific on vocabulary, and the definition and meaning of vocabulary. The children have to know the definition, without question, and they can no longer be vague about it. If the child cannot nail the answer, then they don’t get the mark. The vocabulary side of the Reading Plus programme has helped enormously with this element.
Advice to other schools? Every child reads every day – we really have built our reputation on this. We have reviewed the balance in terms of the children’s exposure to fiction/non-fiction and used Reading Plus to really enhance understanding of vocabulary and general knowledge of life which is so important for our children. Very often the SATs texts relate to experiences that children haven’t encountered, so by reading more non-fiction it expands their worlds and opens their minds to new knowledge and understanding.
Reading Plus stories are so varied, it is well worth 20 minutes a day. As much as we did one-to-one reading, there is always going to be a case of a child switching off and letting their mind wander when silent reading to themselves. With Reading Plus, they know they have to concentrate because they have to answer questions at the end and the teacher will know straight away if they have got a poor score from not paying attention. It focuses the mind better and the children are very competitive with themselves and want to get good scores.
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What a positive impact Reading Plus has had on our results! Out of our lower-ability Year 6 cohort, 66% achieved the Expected Standard, with 22% achieving Greater Depth. We are thrilled with this as all have made great progress and many have achieved ‘unimaginable targets’!
Danielle Brett, Head of Year 6
Ponteland Middle School
Reading Plus has been instrumental in raising the profile of reading further amongst our year 6 children. Most importantly, I feel Reading Plus has given our children greater confidence in accessing more challenging texts which have further encouraged a love of reading.
Emma Wake, Year 6 Teacher
Christ Church Primary School
Over my teaching career, I have never worked with such an effective, enjoyable and accessible intervention programme. The support from the staff at Reading Solutions UK, especially Jonny and Amanda, has been second to none. We look forward to continuing our partnership in years to come and to see many more of our children develop and sustain a life long love for reading.
Miss J. Parkin, Head of KS2
Dunston Hill Primary School
It is a really good resource and we have found that the after care service from the company is second to none in helping schools get it set up and interpreting what is happening with the children.
Beverley McCallion, Headteacher
Bede Community Primary School
Due to the increase in reading data this year, our combined scores have increased by 20%. Well worth the investment!
Claire Park, Headteacher
The Village Primary
I have been amazed at the impact Reading Plus has had on our SATs outcomes this year, our percentages of children attaining at the higher standard national standard have almost doubled
Caroline Taylor, Headteacher
Barley Fields Primary School
What is most encouraging is that pupils are now transferring the skills used in Reading Plus and approaching examination style texts with more confidence and determination
Sue Davies, Senior Teacher
Year 6 have loved Reading Plus and I strongly believe that it has fully prepared them with the stamina to get through their reading SAT. Previous to this year our children have really struggled with their stamina
Sinead Walsh, Deputy Headteacher
Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School
Reading Plus has given our children a hunger for reading success and they show immense pride when receiving their level up certificates in whole school assemblies
Nerys Thornton, Deputy Head Teacher
Thorntree Primary School
We have found that regular use of this program has significantly improved the reading levels of all our children. The Reading Plus team are extremely helpful and have been able to efficiently help us with any issues.
Martin Stamper, Teacher
Ludworth Primary School