Drive to improve literacy pays off for Hull's Parks Primary School
THE headteacher of a north Hull primary school says a survey of pupils' reading habits has revealed a major year-long drive to increase literacy has paid off.
Cathy Byrne, of The Parks Primary School, was left shocked by the results of a similar poll last November, which revealed some pupils had fewer than three books at home.
In addition, some children rarely, if ever, had a bedtime story and even went as far as saying they disliked reading.
As a result, each of the school's 300 pupils were given £20 out of school funds to buy books of their choice in March this year.
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Now, a repeat of the survey carried out this month has shown "overwhelmingly more positive" results, according to Mrs Byrne.
She said: "The big push on reading during the past year has resulted in more children taking responsibility for their own reading, both in school and out of school.
"There are now more books in children's homes and more children are reading for pleasure."
Other measures designed to improve reading habits included bringing in story- tellers and revamping the school library.
Yesterday, pupils were allowed to wear their pyjamas for Children In Need and were dished up hot chocolate while listening to stories.
The campaign has been welcomed by parents and governors.
Mrs Byrne, who intends to brief governors on the success of the push, said the importance of making strides in literacy early in childhood is reinforced by the results of research published yesterday.
Data on 29,000 teenagers in 1,100 schools in England suggests they have an average reading age of ten or 11, meaning they do not understand GCSE exam papers.
The tests were based on results of both struggling and bright pupils using Renaissance Learning software.
Children's literacy levels were checked by asking them 25 questions that required them to put words into a particular context.
The results were then combined with teacher assessments.
Mrs Byrne said: "Reading is crucial to all areas of learning.
"We are trying to make reading exciting and enjoyable for children.
"I saw evidence of the success of our focus on reading recently when I saw some children who were to be rewarded for improving their behaviour at lunchtime.
"They were asked what treat they would like.
"Instead of a McDonald's or something, they asked for a Roald Dahl book."