Pocklington Junior School
Reading is not only an essential life skill, but a gateway into a world of new experiences. With one in five children unable to read well by age 11, Britain’s primary schools are facing an overwhelming challenge.
At Pocklington Junior School, their mission is to foster a reading culture among all students. With 267 pupils aged seven to 11 years old, Pocklington Junior School specialises in numeracy, literacy, SEN and ITT. Based in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the mixed academy also supports pupils with ADHD, autism, and additional social and emotional needs.
Encouraging reading for pleasure…
The school has a higher than average percentage of SEND students. For this reason, staff are now focusing on making reading more accessible to all children. They’ve recently introduced a ‘reading for pleasure’ initiative, whereby they encourage students to go beyond schoolbooks and read anything, like magazines or non-fiction.
Likewise, teachers are encouraging parents to get involved with informal drop-ins. There are mini libraries and dedicated reading corners around the school to encourage further development.
Aimee Cave, SENCo and assistant head at Pocklington Junior School, says the new reading initiative is part of the school’s development plan. While it will make reading accessible to all students, it also addresses issues like higher student numbers.
“ There have been many housing developments in the village, which means more students enter halfway through the year. We need to make sure they’re progressing at the same rate as everybody else. ”
Lexplore: the solution to a ongoing challenge…
The digital assessment tool, which has been featured on media outlets such as BBC South Today News, gives teachers a new insight into children’s cognitive processes. It tracks the child’s eye movements as they read, analysing how long they fixate upon particular words, and how they move throughout the passage.
This helps teachers to pick up on the subtle nuances of how pupils process text – from a lexical, syntactic, semantic and structural point of view.
“We’ve already seen some astounding results,” says Aimee. “For example, we noticed that one student could read a word aloud quite confidently, but was struggling with comprehension. We realised she may have been using a masking strategy, perhaps using visual cues to help explain what was happening in a story. We would not have picked up on that with standard reading tests. It’s like we can see what is in their heads.”
The teachers aren’t the only ones thrilled with the results.
“ We’ve had great feedback from students, especially Year 6s. They actually think the testing is really cool! ”
By monitoring progress, teachers can see first-hand the effects of their new reading intervention schemes, and identify areas for improvement. The school is following the assessment guidelines, assessing all students three times a year. These progress reports help teachers to develop personalised plans, for example focusing on sounds or visual comprehension.
Aimee adds that Lexplore is instrumental in identifying problems early on. “The sooner we identify any issues with reading, the sooner we can fix them. If we don’t find out early enough, that reading gap gets bigger and bigger. We’re using Lexplore Analytics to point out struggles at the beginning of the academic year, so we can get students back on track.”
The school has also noticed huge time savings, allowing teachers to focus more on students and parents.
“ Our previous reading age tests were very time-consuming. Lexplore brings everything together in minutes, including reading ages and difficulties. I can get through two Year 6 classes in a day, and could manage the whole school in a few days. ”
Pocklington has noted an upward trend in student attainment and looks forward to taking this even further. “We’ve seen a big push on the reading side of things, and it’s noticeable to anybody who visits the school – in particular, Ofsted.”
The school looks forward to using the insights from Lexplore in every student’s personal development plan. Aimee says: “We believe reading should be accessible to everyone. By better understanding our students, we can all take our learning further.”