By Shorny Malcolmson, PiXL Reading Lead
At PiXL, one of the missions we’re supporting schools with long-term is reading. We know that this is vital for students, both academically as well as for life beyond the school gates. But we also know that around a quarter of students start secondary school unable to read to the expected standard and that 1 in 6 adults in England has ‘very poor’ literacy skills.
Whole-school approach to reading
On 29th June 2021, we therefore launched the first phase of PiXL Reading: Creating Your Whole-school Approach, which focused on supporting leaders with the creation of a whole-school approach to reading including the wider community – such as parents and carers. PiXL Reading is the overarching project, which as we move forward will have numerous packages sat within, each reflecting one of the range of areas that need focus in order for students to become strong, fluent readers who have learned to read, and who are equipped to read to learn, to read for purpose and to read for pleasure.
Working with Oxford University Press
We are delighted to have worked with Oxford University Press (OUP) on a few of the key areas that have had significant impact for our schools. The Reading Canon Selection Guides were inspired by Doug Lemov’s book Reading Reconsidered, in which he advocates for the implementation of a school canon: a body of books that all students read during their time at school to enable them to explore high-quality texts about a range of important issues. To create these, we worked with publishers such as OUP to provide guides for each year group at Key Stage 3, as well as guides for Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. All texts featured are offered with significant discounts to support schools financially – all OUP’s Super-Readable Rollercoasters, for example, are offered at 50% discount to PiXL members.
Featured on the selection guides are classic texts taught on GCSE English Literature specifications so that schools can purchase these in an affordable way, as well as texts such as the OUP Super Readable Rollercoasters, which have been very popular in our schools. Glynn Palmer-Bell from Castle View Enterprise Academy has used Patrice Lawrence’s book Rat this year and he has shared the following:
In addition, half termly newsletters for parents and students provide a regular touch-point for tips to support students at home, as well as a wide variety of recommended reads so that new books are frequently shown to students. These cover a range of reading ages as well as interests – and OUP Super Readable Rollercoaster books such as Edgar and Adolf, Dark Peak and Lightning Strike have been featured on these too.
As well as this initial package, we also have a PiXL Reading Fluency package which has a wide range of CPD and teaching material to support leaders and teachers with facilitating students’ fluency development. Research suggests that for 75-90% of students who have comprehension difficulties, reading fluency is the obstacle and so this package is designed to help schools tackle this problem for their young people. And during the 2022-2023 academic year, we are adding further packages as well.
We hope that by working together in a cohesive manner, we can significantly reduce the number of students who leave school unable to read for purpose or for pleasure.
Shorny Malcolmson, Head of Curriculum for Secondary and Post-16, PiXL Reading Lead
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