Upper Batley High School is a secondary school for 674 boys, more than half of whom have English as a second language and with 90 per cent from ethnic minority groups. Following a 10-week intervention project called Love to Read, with pupils receiving one-to-one support, education leaders have said the impact has exceeded all expectations.
“It just shows that if you do something intensely, with quality support, it can really impact,” said headteacher Samantha Vickers. “Literacy is a crucial life skill, whether it’s a letter that’s come through the door or a job application.
“But it’s also about development of well-being, and inspiring a life-long love of reading and all the joy that can bring.
“The biggest difference though was in their confidence. I could see them, walking down the corridors or sitting in a corner, reading books in their social time. One boy, walking down the hill on the way home. It was phenomenal.”
Supply Desk, which ran the programme, sees a trained teaching assistant provide one-to-one support through 20 sessions, particularly focusing on vocabulary.
“We all have a shared responsibility to these children becoming achieving adults,” said Clare Othman, Supply Desk operations director, who developed the programme. “It’s really important as to how we all work together to ensure that all children can access the whole curriculum.”
The pilot saw students also encouraged to read at home between sessions and a supported after school reading club was opened.
In total, 28 pupils from Years 7 to 10 took part, with one pupil progressing by over three years in the space of that 10 weeks.
“The pupils who participated in the intervention have kept reading,” added Ms Vickers. “We now have a school-wide reading culture.”