Withernsea High School seeks community readers

As part of its wider focus on the importance of literacy, Withernsea High School are looking for community volunteers to help support some of its youngest and more vulnerable students with their reading and comprehension skills.

In an effort to help inspire reading for pleasure, as well as learning, volunteers are being sought to listen to students read – to offer them help, support and encouragement as they progress.

Explaining the benefit of this for the students, Lead for Whole School Literacy and Reading, Laura Aldridge, said: ‘The main benefit of having someone there to listen to them is that it gives students the motivation and a purpose to read. This in turn helps make them more critically aware of how well they themselves are reading.

We are initially looking for avid and proficient readers who will support students in their Accelerated Reader lessons. This support will take the shape of two-way reading, allowing the students to both read and be read to, and may also include additional support from volunteers who will explain how to sound particular words out, or listen as students summarise what they’ve read and understood.’

As part of timetabled lessons in Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9), students take part in weekly Accelerated Reader (AR) lessons to monitor how well they are progressing. The computer-based AR programme tracks how much and how well students are reading. The process begins with a simple test that evaluates their level and delivers a score to identify each students’ reading range.

This range is then used to select suitable books from the school library. Each book is labelled within a particular reading range to guarantee that students are accessing materials that are suitable for their age and ability.

The AR programme works by monitoring students’ progress and testing them with a comprehension quiz at the end of each book. If the quiz is successfully passed, the system logs the number of words contained within the book and adds them to an overall total which helps students to monitor how many words they have read in a single year. It also monitors their ability and alerts them when they’re ready to move up to the next level.

This is a real motivator as it not only inspires further reading but also healthy competition amongst its participants. Students are regularly rewarded for their efforts and last year one student alone amassed an incredible 4,000,000 words read in a single academic year.

Commenting on the importance of reading, Laura Aldridge added: ‘Literacy is the master skill within schools and is the fundamental building block of academic success. If students can read well, the success of which comes down to a number of initiatives including our Tutor Time and Accelerated Reader programmes, they can access a wider curriculum with deeper understanding.

Through the use of community readers, as well as the continuing support from both teaching and support staff in school, we hope that our students will go from strength-to-strength and enjoy reading with a purpose.

Full training will be provided for any volunteers who are keen to support our work in this way.’

Anyone interested in becoming a community reader is welcome to contact Laura Aldridge via email at aldridgel@wscampus.net for an informal discussion.

Withernsea High School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, therefore all volunteers will be subject to an enhanced DBS disclosure.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Year 7 students pictured in a recent Accelerated Reader lesson.