As the term restarts and we look towards assessments in a couple of weeks, the focus at LECA is firmly on reading. Reading is the absolute cornerstone of education so being proficient and confident at reading is absolutely vital. Exam papers require careful reading and interpretation and students' ability to do this in timed conditions needs to be practiced all the time. We read every day in tutor time and, of course, in a variety of lessons too but it is the private reading in students' own time that will make the most significant difference to their learning. It is noticable which of our students read regularly at home. Their reading age is where it should be (or above) and they have a broad vocabulary to tap into whenever they need to. Their description is better, their punctuation is better and their spelling is better. The message: our students need to read more. It's that simple. Less simple is how to ensure it happens at home. Here are some ideas for parents to help us make this happen.
1. Use technology as a reward for reading. We know that students love their phones and consoles but make it a condition that they read for half an hour before they settle into gaming or networking. Some parents I know remove the controller or the phone to ensure that happens. That's up to you!
2. Create a treat or reward for reading for half an hour every day for a week.
3. Find books or texts they will definitely like. Play to their interests. Don't force them to read books they're not interested in. War and Peace is probably out.
4. Role model reading. If the TV is on, turn it off and read your own book for a while.
5. Create a 'device box'. Put all your devices in there for an hour and read a book instead.
6. Create a cosy reading area at home with books and bean bags or cushions. Make a space that your child will want to relax in.
7. Help them make a new habit of reading for half an hour before lights out at night. It will relax the brain and promote better sleep unlike devices which have the opposite effect.
8. Find a format they enjoy reading on. Some children like the feel of real books but others will prefer kindles or tablets.
9. Ask your child's English teacher for reccomendations and guidance so we can find the right book for your child.
10. Ask your child questions about what they've read and what they want to read next. Finding a good series of books is a great idea too.
Reading (or rediscovering reading to be more precise) is about forming good habits and routines. Once the habit is established, the hope is it remains a good habit for life. It gives you an extra dimension and makes you interesting; it gives you something to talk about; it teaches you new things. For us it's a non-negotiable - we have to work together now to make this happen.
Finally, this week we had our first meeting with Ofsted as part of their fact-finding 'visits' to assess the impact of COVID-19. This was not an inspection and as such we won't receive a report but I'm pleased to say the visit went smoothly and our actions and policies linked to the pandemic were recorded in full by the inspection team. These will be fed back to the Department for Education for research purposes and a letter outlining the key points will be available in a couple of weeks. We will, of course, publish it as soon as we have permission to do so. Thank you all for the support you've given us through the crisis and particular thanks to those who emailed us on the eve of the Ofsted visit to wish us luck - that was very much appreciated!
Take care during the lockdown, read lots and stay safe,