Month: December 2016

Looking Back – old problems, new challenges

2016 has been a very challenging, but rewarding, year. Establishing a rigorous, powerful approach to reading intervention in secondary schools takes time to embed: There is a great deal for teaching staff to take on board, school systems need to be adjusted, and school culture must also begin to change. It has been very satisfying to work in schools across England, and to see the early evidence of impact. One of the major needs in education is for schools to accept the scale of the illiteracy problem, and to persuade them that it is necessary and possible for them to take responsibility for addressing this situation. These posts raised questions for school leaders: Accountability? A Scandal for Schools In what has been called the age of managerialism and accountability, schools seem to be measured for everything: not just GCSE grades, but levels of progress, Progress 8, EBacc results, value-added, attendance, exclusions, all within a wide range of ‘context’ measures. Addicted to Denial? When it comes to the reading problem there appear to be two forms of …

Literacy Leadership Part 3: Return on Investment

Smart leaders invest wisely. Investment in reading has long-term payoffs. Investment in turning around reading failure, especially at secondary school, is an intensive business. Consider this from G Reid Lyon, one of America’s foremost reading researchers: “We have learned that for 90% to 95% of poor readers, prevention and early intervention programs that combine instruction in phoneme awareness, phonics, fluency development, and reading comprehension strategies, provided by well trained teachers, can increase reading skills to average reading levels. However, we have also learned that if we delay intervention until nine-years-of-age, (the time that most children with reading difficulties receive services), approximately 75% of the children will continue to have difficulties learning to read throughout high school. To be clear, while older children and adults can be taught to read, the time and expense of doing so is enormous.” It is exactly this problem that Thinking Reading sets out to solve in secondary schools. We aim to ensure that struggling readers learn more in less time, that they catch up quickly and completely, and that intervention has minimum …

A New Channel

This term has been a time of significant development for Thinking Reading. James Murphy (@HoratioSpeaks) joined the team full-time, with a focus on supporting secondary schools to adapt their systems and resources to better target students in need of literacy help. We’ve also begun to scale up, with the support of the Teach First Innovation Unit, increasing the number of regions in which we are working: the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East of England, the South-West, the South-East and London. As the number of schools has grown, so has the need for a clear channel of news and information. We have set up a new Twitter account (@ThinkingReadin1) for this purpose. We would have preferred @ThinkingReading but that was taken some years ago by what now seems like an unused account. We’re hoping that Twitter will be able to release it. As well as keeping schools and practitioners up-to-date, there will also be a strong focus on research and its application, particularly with respect to the most effective ways to help students in need of …