A new way of teaching Cooks Spinney pupils to read is exposing them to rich and varied knowledge.

A new way of teaching children to read is exposing them to rich and varied knowledge.

BY the time pupils leave Cooks Spinney Primary Academy, in Harlow, they will have read at least 36 full books, including the likes of Tom’s Midnight Garden, Iron Man, Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web.

The move to reading whole books instead of studying extracts is to broaden pupils’ understanding of writing styles, storylines, periods of time and real-life history and facts which shape a story.

The school has invested heavily in ensuring every child has their own copy of the books they are studying, rather than having to share.

Reading is no longer done individually, instead whole classes read the same book together at the same time. All ability levels literally stay on the same page and read in a book club style together.

The work is part of the school’s multi-academy trust BMAT’s mission to rewrite and modernise the English curriculum.

Headteacher Neil Stirrat said: “The way we taught reading before, pupils were taught in small groups and looked at extracts. They would read an extract and answer questions on that. Now they have a whole text, they can understand the structure of stories and character development and improve their vocabulary.

“This way is more challenging for children. It is really pushing them while giving them more knowledge. BMAT is taking us towards a knowledge-rich curriculum and this is part of that.”

The work, which started in September, is already having an impact on what pupils know and how they use that knowledge.

Mr Stirrat said: “We have seen a massive improvement in what pupils are talking about and writing. Instead of writing in a story style, they are writing more critically. They are being much more critical about what they are reading; they could not do that if they were just reading extracts.

“Everything we are doing is based on research and the books are being carefully selected to provide that rich knowledge. One worry was our lower ability children.
But, we have to be brave and all study the same text, answer the same questions and make sure nobody is left behind as we all read together. In fact, the biggest amount of progress we have seen has been from those who were making the least progress previously.”

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