Walthamstow primary innovatively tackles national reading decline

Pupils at Mission Grove Primary School have been motivated to ‘excel’ in their reading through an innovative rewards-based system, including badges, trophies, and local bookshop trips, reports Cosmic Thapa

Credit: Mission Grove Primary School

A Walthamstow primary school has said it is bucking the trend of a reading decline amongst UK children by means of an “innovative” rewards-based reading programme.

Mission Grove Primary School has committed to fostering a better reading culture through a rewards-based system, including badges, trophies, and local bookshop trips, which it says has contributed to motivating its students to excel in their reading. 

Leading edtech provider, Renaissance, has played a large role in supporting both pupils and teachers. 

Katie Jennings, head teacher at Mission Grove Primary School said: “Renaissance’s resources and the Accelerated Reader tests have embedded our pupil’s love of reading. Every classroom has a display highlighting how every child is doing. These displays are interactive and the children are very proud when they move around the display.

“The data enables staff to pinpoint the needs for the individual child and ensures they get the support and focus that they need.”

According to a recently published report that looked at the reading habits of over 1.2million UK and Ireland pupils, there has been a 4.4% year-on-year decrease in the number of books being read by children from Year 1 to Year 11. 

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Additional research from Renaissance and GL Assessment shows teachers believe a third (33%) of their pupils are weak readers and that children are struggling to keep up with the curriculum due to their reading ability. Meanwhile, there has been a 26% decrease in the number of children reading daily in their free time since 2005, while further data shows that pupils’ enjoyment of reading is lowest among those receiving free school meals (39.5%) compared to those who don’t (43.8%). 

However, this year’s new entrants to the list of children’s most read books reflected a trend in children turning to books to find more aspirational and more representative role models, Renaissance said. This includes Marcus Rashford’s book series, The Breakfast Club Adventures, and Bryan Patrick Avery’s Black Men in Science

Crispin Chatterton, former director of education at Renaissance, commented: “Despite the dip in overall reading levels, there is still much to celebrate in terms of the depth and breadth of the books being read. It’s great to see children turning to books to find more representative and aspirational role models in this year’s report.”

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