St Josephs Reading Champions - A Reading Champions project in a Gateshead primary school

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This case study is taken from the reading events and groups section of Reading Champions. Read more case studies in this section

St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Gateshead

Bernadette Hirst, deputy headteacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Gateshead, explains how she got the boys in her school involved in the Reading Champions project.

We were introduced to Reading Champions in September 2007, when our school was working as part of an improvement foundation project to raise boys’ achievement. At this time many of our pupils were reluctant or disengaged readers, and being seen with a book was not perceived as “cool”.

As a solution to this problem, we decided to launch our Reading Champions project by talking to the older boys in Years 5 and 6 about reading. We explained that we were looking for children to encourage reading throughout the school and talked about why reading, and having good reading skills, was so important in life.

We shared with them the fact that generally boys did not achieve as well as girls in many areas of learning, especially reading, and asked for their help in boosting the literacy of children in our school. The boys were set the challenge of becoming Reading Champions.

The added incentive was informing the boys that they would be rewarded for their endeavours. The Reading Champions bronze, silver and gold framework was used, based around three defined levels that we constructed:

reading as frequently as possible

The boys not only receive certificates and badges in recognition of their efforts, but their photographs are also featured on a Reading Champions display in school. The opportunity to shine in the spotlight certainly triggered a positive response in the young boys as many ultimately volunteered to help with the project.

To maintain the boys’ interests, we set out on several trips to the library and a few local bookshops. While we were lucky enough to meet a handful of interesting authors, the boys’ favourite treat was the visit from Durham and England cricketer Graham Onions, who inspired our boys to read with his enthusiasm.

Now, we have a school where reading is a visible and important part of everyday life. Pupils enjoy the recognition they receive and are becoming more engaged with the Reading Champions project.

It has been an exciting and fulfilling 2008 National Year of Reading for our school largely because of the benefits we gained from taking part in Reading Champions.

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Reading Champions website

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