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What bookworms need to thrive

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 February 2021

IOE Events.

The benefits of reading for pleasure are many and varied, from the development of comprehension skills and vocabulary, to the enrichment of imagination and empathy.

For younger children, reading for pleasure builds the proficiency in literacy that accelerates their learning across the school curriculum, and this becomes a virtuous circle as they move on to more demanding texts.  But not all children – or adults – view reading as a favourite pastime. For our latest ‘What if…?’ debate, we brought together children’s author and poet Joe Coelho, literacy experts Charlotte Hacking and Professor Gemma Moss, and social scientist, Professor Alice Sullivan, to assess the barriers and enablers to cultivating committed readers (you can learn more about our panel here).  Along the way, we were delighted to be treated to a poetic tribute to reading, books and libraries.

Our discussion highlighted how the way in which literacy is taught and assessed in schools can be as much of an impediment as an enabler. An over-emphasis on reading as a proficiency and a sorting mechanism, manifested (more…)

PISA 2018 suggests gender gaps in reading are closing. But I am not celebrating

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 January 2020

Francesca Borgonovi.

Results from PISA 2018 reveal a persistent gender gap in favour of 15-year-old girls in reading. On average, across 35 OECD countries with comparable data, this gap was 39 points in 2009 but ‘only’ 30 points in 2018 – i.e. the gap narrowed by 9 points. 

I should be celebrating, but I won’t. PISA results in fact suggest that, on average across OECD countries gender gaps in reading closed because the performance of girls declined, rather than because the performance of boys improved. Even more worryingly, the decline appears to be especially pronounced among poorly achieving girls. 

(more…)

Are all types of reading equal, or are some more equal than others?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 October 2019

John Jerrim.

It is widely considered important that children read regularly. A wide range of previous research has linked reading during childhood to improved language skills and higher levels of academic achievement more generally.

But does it matter what children choose to read? Does flicking through a magazine or reading a newspaper have the same benefits for young people as becoming engrossed in a novel? A lot less evidence currently exists on this.

In a research paper published earlier this year, my co-author Gemma Moss and I decided to explore this topic in detail.

(more…)

Personalisation in children’s reading: what do the literacy experts think?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 October 2018

Natalia Kucirkova.

With the advent of personalised news and algorithms automatically predicting what one should read, children’s own agency as readers is in peril. When this is coupled with a boom in the children’s personalised book industry, reading for pleasure is becoming reading about ‘me’ rather than ‘you’. It’s self-oriented rather than outward-facing. What can be done about it?
Personalisation is a buzzword in education, with a lot of confusion about what it actually means. UCL Institute of Education has a strong expertise in the context of children’s personalised reading, and last week, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11 years) and the International Literacy Centre hosted a one-day conference as part of my project on Personalised Stories.
The conference’s aim was (more…)

‘What works’ in education does not always chime with what Ministers want to hear

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 November 2017

Dominic Wyse. 
The present government in England says it wants to focus on ‘what works’ in education, backed up by solid research, especially research using randomised controlled trial (RCT) designs. Yet, the mismatch between Ministers’ curriculum policy for English teaching and the growing research evidence base is stark, particularly at primary level.
Especially worrying is the heavy emphasis in the curriculum and the SATs on traditional  grammar teaching. My latest paper (with my colleague Carole Torgerson at Durham University) published in the British Educational Research Journal today is an analysis of what works in education. The paper includes the evidence for a much more integrated approach to the teaching of grammar and writing.
We conducted a review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, RCTs,
and quasi-experimental trials, and concluded that the widespread use of traditional (more…)

How can digital library systems help teachers support children’s reading for pleasure?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 October 2017

Natalia Kucirkova & Teresa Cremin. 
Children need to be able to read well to function in society and their engagement as readers needs nurturing from birth. Digital library systems offer enormous opportunities to tap into children’s interests and enhance teachers’ skills as literacy mentors.
They can help teachers and children find relevant content, archive readers’ responses to individual books and share them with others on a large scale. These systems can support reading for pleasure, acting as free book depositories (e.g., International Children’s Digital Library), providing tailored recommendations for new titles on a regular basis (e.g., Epic!) and offering children multimedia story experiences as in a virtual library (e.g., StoryPlace). Teachers’ resistance or openness to the sustained use of such technologies dictates their potential to make a difference to children’s learning.
In our new paper in the Cambridge Journal of Education we explore (more…)

When reading turns from chore to pleasure

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 September 2016

Sally Perry.
Of the many roles performed by the children’s or school librarian perhaps the most mystical is that of matchmaker: matching books with readers. Joy Court*, reviews editor of The School Librarian, describes the specialist children’s librarian mantra as ‘The right book for the right child at the right time in order to achieve the aim of every child reading for pleasure’. In the US this process even has its own name – readers’ advisory – and has traditionally been taught in library schools.
And why is this pairing so important? Because the right book might be the one where you stop thinking about the process of reading or the number of pages you have to get through and read for the story, read for pleasure. It might be your ‘turning point’ book, (more…)

Reading Recovery: celebrating success

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 July 2015

RR
Janet Smith. 
“Reading has given you a golden ticket for the rest of your lives!”. These are the words the President and Provost of UCL, Professor Michael Arthur, used to welcome primary school pupils to last week’s Reading Recovery Awards at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). The annual ceremony, hosted by the IOE’s International Literacy Centre, celebrates the achievements of children, teachers and schools. (more…)

For literacy it pays to start early

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 June 2015

Guest blogger: Jerome Finnegan.
The Read On. Get On. coalition is working towards the ambitious goal of all children in England attaining a good level of reading by age 11, by 2025. Two new reports released by the campaign, for England and Scotland, featuring new analysis by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), highlight the critical relationship between children’s early language development and later reading and comprehension skills. So much so that the campaign has adopted an interim goal: ensuring that all children achieve a good level of language development by age five. (more…)

Reading Recovery: deprived 11-year-olds don't have to face a bleak future

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 July 2014

Julia Douëtil

The latest paper from the Education Endowment Foundation highlights the 25% of 11-year-olds in poverty each year who fail to reach national curriculum level 4, and the devastating impact that is likely to have on each of those children’s future. What if we could reduce that 25% failure rate to, say 7% – in other words, recover three out of four of those potential failures?
The good news is we can.
In 2012 we traced more than 1200 children who, at the age of six, had been identified as being in the very lowest attaining 20% of the age cohort and who had received Reading Recovery to enable them to catch up with their peers. Those children had just completed Key Stage 2 National Assessments and three out of four of them had achieved national curriculum level 4 in reading, and two out of three in writing (page 32).
In the EEF report, Professor Steve Higgins and his Durham University colleagues demonstrate the gap in attainment for children in poverty, and we see the same at entry to Reading Recovery: children entitled to free school meals are typically twice as likely to be among the lowest attaining identified for the programme at age six. At age 11, the gap between those in poverty and their peers attaining National Curriculum Level 4 had reduced to just 7%. At National Curriculum Level 3 the gap was just over 1% as 19 out of 20 of the previously lowest attaining children, those most likely to fail to reach level 3, reached level 3 or above.
The EEF report shows a grudging respect for one-to-one support over group teaching, but the evidence for intensive, high quality early intervention is compelling.
I would go further. If support offered to the lowest attaining six-year-olds is not enabling them to make four or five times the normal rate of progress, to catch up and stay caught up with their peers, we are not trying hard enough.