NEW habits are being cultivated in young people to give them access to a worldly-wise future.
The BMAT group of schools are working to create a more modern curriculum full of knowledge to enable young people to compete on the world stage.
At Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, Year 7 and 8 students start every registration with reading, they are challenged to put a Word of the Week into their communication and work and three days each week the Read to Succeed programme sees Year 9 to 11 reading leaders read with their younger peers for half-an-hour to improve ability.
Subject leaders across the school are ensuring homework is set that requires students to read more and students are filming videos to give parents tips on how to support their children with reading.
That work continued on World Book Day as Year 7 and 8 students were challenged to analyse an article from a national broadsheet newspaper.
Shaheen Khan, assistant headteacher responsible for reading, said: “Children will not improve the vocabulary they arrived at secondary school with unless we do this work. Most exams require a reading age of 15 to 17, so we must make sure our children’s vocabulary continues to improve, along with their ability to decode text and comprehend.
“Their careers from now are completely different to what we had. Everything is on the computer. If they cannot decode quickly and comprehend, they are going to be left behind in the workplace. It is absolutely essential we get children reading widely from a very young age.
“We are trying to build habits. We are starting with the younger year groups with the intention they keep it going.”
The work is already seeing a shift in culture and attitudes at the school.
Mrs Khan said: “If you stop anyone in Year 7 or 8, they will happily discuss the books they are reading, the storylines and characters. We are trying to break the ‘uncool’ stigma, so that it becomes socially acceptable to be proficient readers and to read widely.
“We want to be in a position that when we ask our young people if they read a newspaper that their reply is ‘of course I do’. We cannot make them world citizens if we do not give them the right tools.
“This is what we do at Burnt Mill.”
On World Book Day, students also took part in a book swap; teachers read paragraphs from their favourite books and explained why they loved them; each lesson in Key Stage 3 started with a Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) session; and students took part in quizzes.
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